Stress happens to all of us – whether we are looking for it or not, whether we are ready for it or not, and whether we know how to handle it productively or not.
Throughout our lives 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, what we can control is how the stress affects our lives, and what we do to practice good self care, because workable, do-able 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, subjected to stimuli and information from a myriad of directions at once, and we might neglect our self-care because of it.
The average person tends to wear many hats on a daily basis: homemaker, spouse, parent, employee, friend, counselor, sounding board, etc. Actively participating in self-care activities helps us avoid spreading ourselves too thin and helps avoid overtiring ourselves.
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:
Stressed or not, the basic three – Sleep, Nutrition and Exercise – should be top priority. Without the basic three elements of self-care we can’t possibly expect ourselves to live a DivaStyle life – being our most Dynamic, Intriguing, Vivacious and Authentic selves.
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. Make sure you are comfortable – temperature-wise – and that you have good quality bed coverings, pillows and a mattress or mattress cover.
Investing in yourself and the quality of your sleep pays big dividends.
A balanced diet is going to make a world of difference in how your body handles stress. Obviously, healthy meals are ideal, and we should plan ahead for them, but there are things you can do immediately to increase the health-boosting effects of what you eat.
When you need a snack, opt for something that isn’t loaded with useless carbs, like nuts, berries, yogurt, jerky, etc. Ensure you are getting good protein in every meal, and track both the quantity and quality of your food. A fast-food diet simply won’t cut it, but making better choices if you have to eat fast food is a great first step.
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, which could be walking, climbing stairs at your home or apartment, or finding a favorite exercise video and making time for it at least 3 times a week.
Start slow if you haven’t been using a regular routine, and give yourself opportunity to stretch and recover between workouts. Once you get moving, you’ll find that it gets the blood pumping, loosens up your muscles and joints and is a great way to free the mind and release stress.
Holding everything inside affects virtually every aspect of your life. 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 and space to process unpleasant emotions, and choose methods of stress relief that work for YOU.
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 involves creating meaningful social connections. Join a book club, a fitness class, or have a brunch date with a buddy; we are talking real, in-person, face-to-face conversation. Cultivate meaningful relationships that support you and your goals.
A 10-minute meditation session first thing in the morning is an incredibly helpful, effective and powerful self-care technique when practiced consistently. This is easily incorporated into a daily routine as it doesn’t take long, but it’s 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.