Stress: The final frontier.
There's something about the way I deal with stress that is the absolute worst -- essentially I don't deal with it and then it manifests itself within me as physical pain. It seems this is pretty much my M.O. I am often stressed and don't realize it, or assume that what I'm feeling is just "normal every day stress" (and what even is that, anyway?! #workaholic), and then the next thing I know I'm debilitated by a migraine or a belly ache or something funky. The past week has been pretty awful in the way of my stress-pain. I wake up and have to literally unlock my jaws from how tightly I've had my teeth clenched all night. I'm getting brutal headaches. I felt like I had the flu on Friday. It sucks. So I'm making an effort to practice a little extra self-care.
And so should you. It's ever so necessary right now.
I've listed some ideas below for practicing your own self-care, as well as a few uplifting links. And of course, I'll happily accept any recommendations!
- Get outdoors. Go cloud-watching. Walk your dog. Lie on your back, relax, and watch the sky.
- Watch something that makes you laugh. I've been playing stand-up and Parks and Rec, in particular.
- Punctuate your day with a mini-meditation with one minute and awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations, and one minute of focused attention on breathing; and one minute of awareness of the body as a whole.
- Be selfish! Do one thing a day just because it makes you happy.
- Do a mini-declutter. Clean up that junk mail pile that's been building, fold that mess of laundry, or just change the sheets on your bed. Your exterior space is a reflection of your inner-space (aka your brain), so make it more peaceful and reap the rewards!
- Unplug for an hour. Switch everything to airplane mode and free yourself from the constant bings of social media and email.
- Turn off the TV. Keep it off. And definitely don't watch the news.
- Talk to a stranger. Nicely. Make a connection, even if it's just with your barista or mail person.
- Edit your social media feeds, and take out any negative people. Just do it, and don't allow yourself to feel guilt. You don't owe them anything, and if they're toxic, get those suckers out! (I am a particular fan of this type of purge).
- Oxygenate by taking three purposeful, focused deep breaths and fill out your lungs and belly.
- Get down and boogie. Put on your favorite upbeat playlist and shake that booty, even if it's just in the shower.
- Allow yourself a few comfort food indulgences (oh mac and cheese, how I love thee), but focus on filling your body with healthy choices--mostly plants, no processed crap.
- Activate your self-soothing system. Stroke your own arm, or if that feels too weird, just moisturize.
- Make yourself a cup of hot tea as an afternoon pick-me-up. Slow down and breathe in its vapors. Enjoy that moment (this also tricks you into taking those deep breaths).
- Give your body a treat. Pick something from your wardrobe that feels great next to your skin.
- Be still. Sit somewhere green, and be quiet for a few minutes. (check out this bit on forest bathing)
- Get some sun, especially if you’re in a cold climate.
- Light a candle that smells lovely to you, or spray your pillows with some lavender or vanilla.
- Take a nap. Even just ten to twenty minutes can reduce your sleep debt and leave you ready for action.
- Be kind to yourself. Imagine you are your own best friend. If you were, what would you tell yourself right now? Make that your mantra.
- Use your commute for a “Beauty Scavenger Hunt.” Find five unexpected beautiful things or people on your way to work.
- Help someone. Carry a bag, open a door, or pick up an extra carton of milk for a neighbor.
- Choose who you spend your time with. Hang out with “Radiators” who emit enthusiasm and positivity, and not “Drainers” whose pessimism and negativity robs energy.
- Stroke a pet! If you don’t have one, go volunteer for an afternoon at the animal shelter and find one to snuggle.
- Have a self-date. Spend an hour alone doing something that nourishes you (reading, your hobby, visiting a museum or gallery, etc.)
- Exercise a signature strength. Think about what you’re good at, and find an opportunity for it today.
- Take a home spa. Have a long bath or shower, sit around in your bathrobe, use aromatherapy, and read magazines.
Here are a few uplifting links:
Wait, what exactly is self-care?
Heal from within with this golden milk elixir.
Surround yourself with the beauty of joy. The smile project captures the moments photographer Mehmet Genç tells his subjects they are beautiful.
"There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in". Leonard Cohen on democracy and its redemptions.
Browse on Instagram with hashtag #selfcare.
More simple ways to practice self-care.
A self-care guide for when you feel like doggie doodoo.
TED talks on the importance of self-care.
And of course, understanding all this through the science of stress.