Stress, we all have it, but we don’ have to let it consume us. Reducing the amount of stress you have can have a huge impact on your health. My husband Matt and I have been under quite bit of stress recently with all that’s been going on with his health. It’s been a slow process back for him this time around after surgery but our self-care plan has been helping, a little bit every day. Remember it’s not about being perfect at it, just the act of doing it can be incredibly healing and get you out of a funky headspace. I hope by sharing what’s working for us will help you create a self-care plan for yourself.
1-Less is more
If your body is telling you to slow down and rest , listen to those signals. Do you have to do everything on your list today, or can some of it wait for tomorrow? Write a list of the most important things you have to accomplish and do those things first. Take a nap, watch the sunset, declutter your life and slow down. Doing less and having less “stuff” is healing on so many levels.
Put away your phone and connect with nature. Just being outside in the fresh air and sunshine can reduce stress in the body. When sunlight hits your skin, it begins creating Vitamin D in the body which can naturally help lower depression and anxiety. Think about how you feel when you’re walking out in the woods or a natural environment, the smells, the air, the water, the sounds, the wildlife. It really is magical and when you take it all in, you begin to forget about the stressful things in life and can focus on the beauty life has to offer. There is also evidence from Medical Researchers in Japan (where the practice became part of their national public health program in the 80’s) that it can help boost immunity, your mood and help with reducing stress. In our neighborhood there are many wooded places to walk and we try to do it daily. Even if you just go to a nearby park and take a walk, it can really make a difference!
Whatever you want to call it, closing your eyes, taking deep breaths and connecting with a higher power can slow down your heart rate and create a calmer sense of well-being. I like to hold my hand to my heart, connect with myself and tap into what really matters in the moment. Even if it’s just for 5 minutes, it can be so helpful. A lot of times we have so many thoughts and worries rolling around inside of our heads that it’s hard to concentrate and slow down. Meditating can re-connect us to our higher self and quite down all the noise in this over stimulating world we live in. It can be hard to hear our own voice most times, and meditating can help us get back to ourselves. Re-align us to our purpose and release the things that we no longer need to hold onto and stress over.
In Sweden they take multiple breaks to have tea/coffee, it’s called Fika. Fika isn’t just about the tea or coffee, it’s about taking the time to slow down and appreciate the good things life has to offer. You can take a Fika alone or with a friend(s) but the key here is really to carve out that time for yourself. I choose to slow down with a cup of tea because it’s really relaxing and not as stimulating as coffee. My husband and I are really into this and it’s become such a part of our routine that we have a specific type of tea that we really adore, so much so that just the mention of it brings an instant smile to our faces. That alone is such a stress release!
Write down your feelings daily in a book. Often expressing yourself on paper can release tension building in your body that you may be holding on to. It can help you reset your thinking and perspective on things. When I write something on paper it has a different effect than just thinking about it. I also like going back and seeing my thought process and feelings I was having and how I worked through them. I also like to draw and express myself with artwork, watercolors, pastels. Drawing can provide insight and healing where words fall short. Also writing what you are grateful for each day can really shift your way of thinking and is wonderful for your mental health. You don’t have to be perfect about this either, if you miss a day, just start again when you can. No need to stress about a tool used to help you get rid of stress ;)
6-Move your body/Exercise
It doesn’t have to be anything over the top, just taking a walk can be helpful. Moving your body is the key component here. Moving your body is good for more that just your cardiovascular health, it’s great for your mental health. When you exercise your body releases endorphins or feel good chemicals that create a positive feeling in the body. Matt and I always feel better after a short walk/hike or exercising when we are stressed out. It re-balances us and our perspective, it’s good old fashioned medicine!
These are just my tips that help us reduce stress but keep in mind, a self-care plan is not one size fits all. Everyone is different and your self-care plan may not look the same and that’s ok. We are all unique individuals with different schedules and we each respond differently to stress as well as techniques to reduce it. The important part is that you have a healthy way that works for you to alleviate the amount of stress in your daily life. Wishing you peace and harmony on your life’s journey!