In an age of stress, it’s more vital than ever to develop and maintain a self-care practice. It not only strengthens your resilience and capability to handle the highs and lows of life but is beneficial for your physical health, too.
Because of the stigma that surrounds the term ‘self-care,’ many people think of it as a luxury rather than a priority, or worse, as selfish. This may also be why anxiety, fatigue, and burnout are still prevalent in our modern and rapidly advancing world.
Life is always going to present challenges, but when you have an arsenal of self-care practices to turn to when things get stressful, you will be better equipped to cope with it and even thrive. Here are 5 ways to take care of yourself in an age of stress:
- Exercise regularly and eat a balanced diet. There is an increasingly undeniable link between your physical health and mental health. If you look after your body well, by implication, your mind will also benefit. Good physical self-care means establishing a regular sleeping pattern, eating plenty of natural, unprocessed foods like fruits and vegetables, and drinking an adequate amount of water. Furthermore, exercising regularly, whether that takes the form of a long walk, yoga, or running, is vital to optimum well-being and has been proven to be a major stress-reliever.
- Practice meditation and mindfulness. Being aware of your breath as it comes in and out of your body, scanning your body parts and feeling each of its sensations, and listening to guided meditations are all ways of investing in good spiritual and mental self-care. Meditation has been shown to help control stress levels, decrease anxiety, and promote relaxation. It equips you to make healthy decisions, regulate your emotions, and stay present and engaged with the task and people at hand. On top of that, it’s beneficial for your cardiovascular health and lowers your blood pressure.
- Talk it out. Bottling things up inside, especially when it’s causing you stress or frustration, is only going to harm you in the long run. Speak to a trusted friend about how you are feeling and lean on them for support; simply talking out loud can alleviate anxiety, provide a fresh perspective on the situation, and help you gain clarity on your thoughts and feelings. If this is difficult for you to do, online therapy services like
https://www.betterhelp.com/therapists/ provides professional, affordable, and confidential counseling services with therapists who are trained to listen and support you through stressful times.
- Honor your feelings and needs. What this means is allowing all your thoughts, emotions, and needs to be as they are. They are all OK—really! When you learn to acknowledge and express them as they come, you will feel less out of control and strengthen your emotional resiliency. Moreover, honoring your inner process means not judging or criticizing yourself; many of us are our own worst enemies, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Life is challenging enough as it is without self-loathing, so remember to be gentle and kind to yourself—you’re doing the best you can, and that is enough.
- Get out amongst nature. Being surrounded by Mother Earth is a big mood-booster and stress-reliever. Even if you work indoors most of the day, make it a priority to get outside during your break, breathe in some fresh air, and soak up some sunshine. It’s also a good idea to go on hikes when you can. The Japanese term ‘shinrin-yoku’, or forest-bathing, is a practice which involves spending time in the woods and connecting to your senses as you ‘bathe’ in nature. Amongst many other benefits, it is claimed to counter illness and disease, reduce feelings of depression and anxiety, and improve sleep.
- Do things you love. Every day, do something that you enjoy and that is intrinsically motivated. This could be reading a book, watching a movie, or nurturing your creativity through painting, woodworking or dancing. These mental self-care practices will greatly influence your psychological well-being and, if you do them regularly, will help you maintain a sense of balance and equilibrium in life. Make sure that you set it as a priority and as an important part of your day as you’ll be more likely to stick to it this way. Remember: self-care is a priority, not a luxury.
It’s important to assess how you are taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally, especially when things are challenging. These are just suggestions and guiding posts to help you experiment with and create your own self-care plan. Once you develop one, you’ll be more equipped to live your best and most fulfilling life with as little stress as possible.
Marie Miguel Biography
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.