Stress happens to all of us. Throughout life undoubtedly there will be stress related to any number of things, such as family issues, work-related stressors, financial problems, illness or the loss of loved ones.
While we cannot control what the world throws in our direction, we can control how the stress affects our lives. Self-care strategies are an excellent way to do just that!
Self-care, in a nutshell, is the act of being good to yourself. Self-care strategies are meant to replenish and nourish the inner and outer “you”. Let’s face it, we are busy people.
The average person tends to wear many hats on a daily basis: homemaker, spouse, parent, employee, etc. Actively participating in self-care activities helps us avoid spreading ourselves too thin.
Have you ever felt like you’re at the end of your rope? Drained? Exhausted? Irritated? Overwhelmed and stressed? If so, it would behoove you to incorporate any or all of the following self-care strategies on a routine basis:
The Basic Three
Stressed or not, the basic three should be top priority. Without the basic three elements of self-care we can’t possibly expect ourselves to live our best lives.
- Sleep – Our bodies require 5-8 hours of sleep to recharge and prepare for the next day. Just getting the recommended number of hours isn’t enough, though. We need to focus on quality sleep as well. Get rid of distractions. Turn off the TV and put your smartphone out of reach.
- Nutrition – A balanced diet is going to make a world of difference in how your body handles stress. Obviously, healthy meals are ideal. When you need a snack, opt for something that isn’t loaded with useless carbs, like nuts, berries, yogurt, jerky, etc.
- Exercise – Don’t let exercise scare you! You don’t have to become a gym-rat and join all the HIIT groups. Simply add in a regular exercise routine that increases your heart rate for about 15-30 minutes. It gets the blood pumping, loosens up muscles and joints and is a great way to free the mind and release stress.
Holding everything inside affects virtually every aspect of our lives. Instead of alleviating the stress caused by an emotion, it actually causes more stress. Picture a volcano filled with boiling lava, waiting to explode and destroy everything in its wake. Don’t be a volcano. Allow yourself time to process unpleasant emotions.
Opt for Positivity
Make it a daily goal to refrain from negative self-talk. Look for the positives in all situations and people. And most of all, don’t ever allow another human being enough control over your attitude and mood to ruin your day.
Believe it or not, it’s okay to say “no”. You don’t have to be everywhere all the time for everyone else. Establish priorities and boundaries regarding time invested in your professional life and personal life.
Delegating tasks to other family members or coworkers also helps reduce stress. It’s not about giving up control; it’s finding balance by making good use of your resources. This way, things get done and you don’t self-combust.
A great self-care strategy for stress management is in creating meaningful social connections. Join a book club, a fitness class, have a brunch date with a buddy; we are talking real, in-person, face-to-face conversation. Cultivate meaningful relationships.
Meditation & Relaxation Techniques
A 10-minute meditation session first thing in the morning is an incredibly helpful self-care technique. This is easily incorporated into a daily routine as it doesn’t take long, but its effects can last throughout the entire day. Relaxation techniques are especially useful right before bed, as well.
And last but certainly not least, get in some pampering time. Getting massages and enjoying the massage chairs during a pedicure are fantastic, but don’t believe the myth that all self-care costs a pretty penny.
There are plenty of self-care ways to pamper yourself for free. For instance, a bubble bath, a homemade facial mask, mani-pedi at home, burn a candle, a glass of wine and a good book, write in a journal, a guilt-free TV binge, or sleep in and then fix your favorite breakfast.
Self-care strategies should be part of a daily routine. It may seem selfish on the surface, but it’s quite the opposite. When we take care of ourselves, we have more of ourselves to give.
Life is demanding and sometimes it seems to pull us in all directions all at once. Prepare yourself mentally and physically to endure the daily challenges with self-care techniques for stress management.