I think everyone can identify with the feelings of being pulled in different directions. In this demanding world, it’s easy to get in the habit of reacting to whatever is most urgent like a frazzled, human pinball machine. Living life on the rebound drains our reserves until we stop putting ourselves last.
Often, the things we are struggling to keep up with have nothing to do with personal wellness, health or happiness. Self-care can feel like a low priority in comparison to meeting work deadlines, paying bills, washing clothes, parenting our children and taking care of our parents. The list of demands goes on and on.
We don’t get well-being without self-care.
It’s time to make a commitment to improving balance in your life. When we neglect our self-care, we give ourselves the message that we don’t matter, we aren’t worth the effort, and we don’t deserve better.
These recommendations aren’t rocket science. They are reminders about the importance of self-care and options to help you balance stress and optimize your life.
Source: Stainless Images/Unsplash
1. Make positive choices and say yes to things that nourish you. Have more fun!
Take a break and choose to do positive and fun things. This can cause a shift in your outlook and help you relieve stress. Sometimes, if we take a break from our to-do list we can go back to it and be more efficient. An enjoyable life can’t be “all work, no play”.
- Go have lunch with a friend
- Watch a funny movie or tv show
- Play a game with your kids, friends, or family
- Play with a pet
- Listen to music, dance
- Read a good book
- Get out in nature and look at the beauty
2. Get enough sleep
Focus on getting restorative, quality sleep. It is hard to feel upbeat or be productive when you are sleep deprived.
If you are struggling with sleep, review these tips about how to sleep better.
3. Eat healthy foods
Eat healthy and nourishing foods. Sometimes people use food as a way to self-soothe and distract from stress but that never works out well in the end. The cycle of stuffing emotions feeds into negative self-worth.
Using food as an attempt at self-soothing can result in unwelcome weight gain. As weight goes up, stress often goes up, continuing a negative cycle without any real relief.
4. Avoid alcohol and drugs
Avoid things that make stress worse. Alcohol is a depressant. Alcohol is not going to help you feel balanced and less stressed in life. It will also negatively affect your sleep, further depleting your emotional reserves.
Drugs and alcohol don’t help people feel powerful or in control of their life especially when they are used for a temporarily escape. What happens after they are out of the system? Do people generally feel better and less stressed, more hopeful about their future and their ability to withstand the pressures of life?
Instead of reaching for something outside of yourself when you are overwhelmed, look for answers within.
5. Exercise is a great stress reliever
Exercise is a powerful and extremely effective method to help yourself feel better. Exercise doesn’t have to mean running 10 miles each day. Small amounts of exercise, even one hour per week, can make a difference in mood.
6. Mantras, mindfulness, and meditation are effective tools for resetting mindset
Mantras can be used as reminders to yourself about what you want to focus on and can help shift thoughts from the negative to the positive. Positive thoughts help breed positive feelings and the opposite is true also: negative breeds negative.
There are many free apps that make it easy to give meditation and mindfulness a try. Many apps allow you to choose the number of minutes you have available and the desired focus (sleep, stress, etc.). This allows guided meditations and mindfulness exercises to be fit into the busiest of days.
7. Go to therapy
It is hard to figure out life balance on one’s own. A therapist is a neutral party that can help you refine your life focus and stay accountable to the goals you set out for yourself.
They can also help you work through the areas that you are getting stuck. Processing emotions in a healthy way can decrease reactivity and allow you to be more mindful of the choices you are making.
You can’t come last on the list!
Prioritize health in the same way you prioritize other responsibilities and you will see stress diminish despite a to-do list that doesn’t get shorter. Make sure to put yourself on that list or it is too easy to always run out of time for self-care.
What self-care goals will you put on your list this week?
Copyright Melissa Welby.