Stress. That is a small word, but it can do so much to us both physically, and mentally. Stress is our body’s natural response to danger, it is the fight or flight mechanisms that we all have to either prepare us for battle or flee from danger. Years ago this did exactly as it was meant to do; our stress was minimal and useful when needed. Today stress is constant on us, we live in a world where stress is either placed on us by work, family, and lifestyle, or we place it on ourselves (which happens way more often than we think). We need to realize though that stress is not the situation or incidents themselves, rather, real stress comes from the way we react to these events or experiences. Stress is a natural part of today’s busy lifestyle—but it doesn’t have to control our lives.
When you feel stress creeping into your life, there are steps you can take to find your peace, so you don’t burn out. We want our self-care to leave us rejuvenated and ready to take on our day, not feeling more exhausted. Healthful self-care when we most need it takes time and practice, and it will get easier to give to yourself the more you do it. It shouldn’t be boring or uninteresting to you, but something that will make you feel amazing and glad you took this time for yourself. And who doesn’t need that?
Here are a few self-care tips and ideas for you to think about, and then take the time to try something that will work for you:
Make time for self-care, and let others know it
Make time to do the things that nourish you the most by putting them on your calendar; even 5 minutes can be enough to boost your mental health. This could be as simple as having some quiet time for yourself, as much as we love our family, it’s important to take this time for just you.
Maybe having a bath, enjoy a comforting cup of tea, reading something you like, listening to a podcast, or just sitting in silence. AHHH!
Let others know that you need some time for you, it isn’t being selfish, it allows you to take a few minutes to renew yourself and come back more refreshed. Then when you return you may have more focus to give to family or work. And who knows, others in your life may need this too, but didn’t know how to try it. You may give them the motivation to try self-care as well!
Think about your breath, it is your life—literally. It keeps you alive! When we’re stressed or anxious, we hold our breath or breathe in short, shallow bursts. Breathing deeply when you find yourself feeling stressed is so beneficial. Next time, stop what you’re doing and breathe deeply—in through your nose, and out through your mouth—for as long as you need to. This will slow your heart rate, get rid of the noise in your head and help you to find the clarity you need to deal with what was bothering you.
Finding your own self-care to reduce stress
Make sure you find what is best for you, there isn’t one size fits all. Try a few to see which is yours.
- Have more fun-do things that you enjoy and help you to relax.
- Learn a relaxation method, or maybe just sit in silence.
- Take a hot bath
- Exercise-movement helps to get rid of stress. Try yoga, Pilates or going for a walk in nature
- Listen to music or a podcast
- A favorite hobby like knitting, baking or whatever takes you to your happy place.
- Unplug from the computer + social media
- Writing or journaling to express your feelings and emotions
- Take a nap-make sure you are getting a good night’s sleep, if not have a quick nap
- Eat dark chocolate (OK, this is mine!) Dark chocolate is full of minerals and has beneficial benefits to controlling many diseases.
Good food feeds the body and soul
Self-care is really a process for the mind, emotions and our soul. But it is also important to make sure you are eating and drinking good quality foods and herbs, to help support the mental processes as well. There are many foods from nature that can nourish and relax us from the inside out.
Try to include in your diet wholesome, natural foods like:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Nuts and seeds
- Beans and lentils
- Healthy fats like grass-fed meats, grass-fed butter, avocados, and coconut oil
- Drink lots of water to keep us hydrated and the digestive tract moving.
- Try herbal teas such as chamomile, licorice root, or peppermint. Some tea companies even make a blend called Relax or De-Stress teas that help to calm you.
When we take care of ourselves, we feel better physically and mentally and are then more prepared to take on what life has in store for us.