Being stressed-out, overly busy or overwhelmed happens to a lot of us these days, and unfortunately, one of the first things that goes straight out the window is self-care.
We’ll make sure the laundry is done or the dishes are clean or dinner is cooked and served or the kids are doing their homework or whatever, and we’ll take on all kinds of other roles and responsibilities (which really just pile the stress on) and completely forget about taking care of ourselves.
This is completely illogical. When we’re stressed out, the very first thing we need to do is start implementing some self-care practices.
Because when we’re drained and exhausted and spent and just over it, our abilities to take care of others is lowered significantly as well. We need to be functioning at our best to be able to care for others. One analogy I like is what they tell you to do with oxygen masks on airplanes if you’re traveling with a child: put yours on first, then help your child with theirs. Because if you’ve got little Katie’s mask in place but then you pass out, you’re not helping anyone. In fact, you’re creating a much, much bigger problem: staff is trying to revive you, little Katie is freaking out & someone is trying to help her…you get the point.
So, here are seven different types of self-care and some strategies to try within them. These are all simple, and don’t require a lot of planning or difficulty:
Care for yourself and de-stress by indulging your senses. Some things to try: cuddle up with a pet, take a long hot shower, listen to running water, burn a scented candle, walk through grass barefoot, stare up at the sky, spend time outside at night by a fire pit and enjoy the heat and flames. And these are just some ideas to get you started.
Care for yourself by doing pleasurable things. Take yourself out to lunch or make some art. Create a new craft or scrapbook. Journal. Garden. I personally LOVE to bake; it’s one of the ways I meditate. How can you do something pleasurable today to care for yourself?
Sometimes tackling a project we’ve been putting off for awhile or challenging our brains in unexpected ways can be so rewarding. So go ahead and clean out that junk drawer, tackle that crossword puzzle, or just drive to a new place and spend some time there. Read up on a topic you wouldn’t normally.
These can be great ways to self-care.
For those who have a spiritual nature, a close relationship with a higher power or a religion they’re steeped in, spiritual ways of self-care can be extremely positive. Some of the things you might think to do are pray, meditate, attend a service, make a gratitude list, spend some time outside in nature, or simply journal. All of these methods can bring spiritual peace and are great means of self-care.
Being emotional can be challenging when we’re stressed out, but it doesn’t have to be. Our tendency to label emotions as “right” or “wrong” is unfair to ourselves and also untrue. Here are some ways to get in touch emotionally: cry when you need to. Write your feelings down. Accept ALL of your feelings. They are all okay. Really. Practice self-compassion. And most of all, laugh anytime you can, as much as you can, as loudly as you’d like.
Exercise ups serotonin levels in the brain, making you happier and more balanced just by doing it. Try going for a walk, jog, cycling, kayaking, rock climbing…whatever you love. Now, on the other side of the coin: don’t skip sleep just to get things done. Take a nap if you need one.
Connecting with others is a great means of self-care.