24 Aug Reduce Stress: Start a Self-Care Practice
No matter who you are, practicing self-care is important for your mental and physical health. It can be hard to shift the focus from family and friends to yourself, and it’s necessary. In fact, if you want to be the best for everyone else, you’ve got to spend some time on yourself first. Self-care doesn’t mean avoiding your work to go to the spa or a fancy dinner; it’s more about adding in activities each day that help you feel good.
When you practice self-care, you become more resilient and manage stress more effectively. Actions that relax your mind or increase positive feelings can help prevent chronic stress. As you practice these activities, you become more aware of increased stress, and are better able to address it before it takes over your life.
I schedule time during the day to turn off my phone and tune into my body. A simple five-minute meditation, a quick trip to my favorite lunch spot or a funny video remind me to slow down, relax and to focus on me.
Now, I know many of you are reading this and thinking, “Yeah, right! How can I possibly think of self-care when I have a million things to do, a child screaming at me or a huge project due tomorrow?” Self-care does not mean avoiding your life. It means adding in small things to fuel your mind and body, so you can more effectively manage everything going on. The key to taking care of yourself is to regularly schedule some time for YOU.
First, ask yourself what your needs are. What would make you feel better right now? What is something that your brain and body need from you today? A few minutes a day, just for you, can create a huge change.
- Go to bed 20 to 30 minutes earlier. The extra rest will do your brain and body good!
- Take a break to call a close friend. Spending several minutes with someone in person or on the phone can create more “feel good” neurotransmitters and improve your mood. Try to do this when you have a moment to really be mindful of the conversation.
- Take a midday break and walk around outside. Try to stay off your phone and notice the sights and sounds in your neighborhood.
- Make that doctor’s or dentist’s appointment you’ve been neglecting. Get something off that to-do list that improves your health.
- Listen to a meditation or TEDx talk on YouTube. Put your social media away and phone on silent. Just listen and notice how you feel.
- Get organized, just for a few minutes. Do something today that will help you tomorrow. Pack your bag for work the night before, make your lunch, organize your planner. It may seem like work but it’s actually going to help you feel more at ease and relaxed the next day and moments after it’s done.
- Put your favorite food on the shopping list. You do enough for others; why not get that package of cookies you love? It doesn’t have to be expensive or exciting to anyone else, but buy something you’re looking forward to eating.
- Drink more water. Instead of beating yourself up for never drinking enough, remind yourself that water is something your body and brain love and need. The benefits are endless.
- Edit your newsfeed. Block or hide people who bother you on social media. There is no shame in blocking people who may cause you to feel badly about yourself, who’ve hurt your feelings or who are filling your social media with annoying comments or pictures. You’ll feel better, and they don’t have to know.
- Get creative. When you were a kid what did you love to do? Paint, draw, sing, dance? Do it in the privacy of your home or take a class. There was a reason you were called to these activities. They re-energize you and I’m sure they will help you clear your mind.
Allowing the time to do for yourself allows you to be more available to others. The small investment in YOU can increase your ability to manage the stressors that are bound to come your way on a daily basis and will help you feel more balanced and positively about things.
Authored by: Emily Roberts, MA, LPC