Raise your hand if you’re guilty of this – putting your needs on a back burner to take care of work, family, or friends first. It’s in our DNA, but doing it repeatedly is suffocating and will slowly suck the life out of you.
News flash: "If you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will. It’s that simple."
So, what are some easy and inexpensive ways to begin to incorporate self-care into your life so that you can manage your stress before your stress manages you? Read on to find out, because it's all about making time.
Improve Your Sleep
Create a nightly routine to calm down all the activities of the day. Don’t eat heavy meals at least two hours before bedtime; dim the lights, put away your phone and turn off the TV. Getting good quality sleep will give your body and mind a break from the day’s hectic routine. It’ll also give you a chance to rejuvenate and get ready for the next day. Per psychology today, a good night’s sleep will strengthen your concentration and memory skills. It also increases your energy levels so you don’t feel wiped out by lunch time and you’re able to get things done.
Relaxation generally improves one’s outlook on life. By bringing in a sense of optimism and possibility into your life. Just try closing your eyes for 2 minutes while focusing on your breathing. It’ll do wonders for your physical and mental states. You can also do yoga or tai chi, which can considered meditative activities, especially if you do them outside where you can be one with nature.
Talk to Family and Friends
Research shows that when connecting with others, especially those close to us, our brain releases “happy” hormones, which lower stress and blood pressure levels. It also gives us a sense of bliss and peace, even if it’s just talking on the phone for a couple of minutes.
Having that sense of belonging is crucial to a healthy, well-balanced existence. Volunteer work is a great way to connect with people. Or consider, joining a club that matches your interests or taking a class. You’ll achieve similar results, and you’ll meet new people while learning something new, so it’s a win-win!
“One of the joys of reading is the ability to plug into the shared wisdom of mankind.” — Ishmael Reed
Pick up a magazine, follow a blog, or sit down for at least 10-15 minutes each day to enjoy a good book – a chapter a day if you’re really pressed for time.
Reading allows our minds to do two things:
· Free itself from the daily, tiring thoughts that clutter our minds and exhaust us
· Spark up your imagination because reading can transport you to another place and time.
Both of which are crucial for healthy living.
Keep a Journal
Set aside at least 5-10 minutes each day to write down the day’s events and your feelings about them. If it was a bad day, then writing it down on paper will relieve you of the burden of carrying around all that negative energy in your mind and body which can help lower your stress levels. If it was a good day, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and pride when seeing the day’s events on paper as you’re reliving those positive moments. Either way, it’s a therapeutic way to get in touch with your inner self. You can also write down your goals to help you stay focused on what you really want out of life.
Explore - Have an Adventure
Schedule personal development into your calendar so that once a month at a minimum, or more often if you can manage it, learn something new about a topic you’ve been thinking about, learn a new language or even become a tourist in your own city or town. The point is that there’s a wide world around you, filled with exciting and new things you haven’t seen or tried before. It’ll keep things into perspective and give you a chance to see what your true goals and priorities are. You can think of it as some much-needed “me” time because you get to do something you enjoy.
Successful and well-balanced people know that if you don’t speak up about what you do and don’t want, there are some people who may try to take advantage of you. We’re often so afraid of not fitting in or upsetting our loved ones that we don’t speak up about our true thoughts and feelings. However, keeping quiet can cause things to fester and ultimately might make you resent those loved ones or even yourself, which will only add to your stress.
We usually associate speaking up with being rude or selfish, but when done right, saying how you truly feel is actually very healthy and therapeutic. Moreover, if it’s done with the right intent and in a respectful manner, people on the receiving end will appreciate it because it lets them know where they stand. It also shows your confidence and stability. And who doesn’t want that in their lives?
Eat and Drink Right
We’ve all heard this because it’s true, maintaining a balanced diet is necessary to live a long, healthy life. Taking care of yourself requires hard work and discipline, but once you start, if you keep at it, it quickly becomes a lifestyle and you’re easily able to make conscious decisions about what types of food and drink you want going into your body. If you haven't been attending to what has been going into your body, it can be a challenge. To make it easier, don't try to completely overhaul your entire diet all at once. Start simple, one change at a time. Maybe you'll drink a glass of water as soon as you get up, or maybe you can try having one green smoothie each day or have veggies at each meal, whatever it is, make sure that it's something easy for you to do and do it.
Maintain High Self-Esteem
As I discussed in my positive self talk post, Nothing can be more important than how you think and feel about yourself. It helps bring inner stability while reducing attempts of self-sabotage, which we’re all guilty of. Enjoying high self-esteem will make you happy in all of your relationships because you're confident in your own skin, and you know exactly what your likes and dislikes are.
Stopping your inner critic takes time and practice, but by using affirming self-talk, you’ll be able to have a more positive outlook. Appreciate everything that makes you YOU and learn how to stop the myth of perfectionism. Instead, focus on your strengths and all you’ve accomplished in your life - even the small things, because they’re part of what makes you special. There’s never been another person exactly like your on the planet and there never will be again.
Surround Yourself with Supportive People
Having people who know and love us for who we are, without judgment or negativity is a form of self-care. If there are people in your life who bring you down, try to limit your contact with them as your piece of mind is paramount.
Which of these 10 methods are you going to use to improve your self-care and manage your stress before your stress manages you? Let me know in the comments section.