By: Suruchi Saini MA, LPC, NCC, CCTP
A large part of Stress Management is practicing “Self-Care”. This concept of focusing on treating ourselves well many times gets lost as we tend to put the needs and wants of others before our own.
Self-care is incredibly important for mental, emotional, and physical health. Neglecting our well-being can negatively impact the well-being of those around us like our friends, our family members, and our colleagues. While some people might claim that practicing self-care is narcissistic, it has been proven that benefiting our own state in turn benefits others.
If you’ve ever flown in an airplane, you’ve likely heard the pre-flight announcement that says, in so many words, “In case of an emergency, an air mask will fall down from the compartment above you. Please adjust your own mask first before attending to the needs of your children or seatmates.”
If you attempt to help your children before your own mask is in place, you might pass out before you get theirs on. If, however, you calmly secure your own mask first, you will then be conscious and able to assist your children with theirs. If we are coming apart at the seams mentally and emotionally, we will not be best able to help those whom we love and care about. Showing ourselves love will allow us to show others love, and it will set a good example for our children, who learn a great deal from us and tend to copy our behaviors.
The following ten habits COST NOTHING, and I have found many of my clients have continued success with these lifelong investments of little time and effort:
- Take a timeout. Spend thirty minutes, by yourself, doing something you enjoy that’s in no way related to work, family, or social obligations. If you are a very busy person then you need to practice this for 40 minutes. Yes, that’s what’s needed.
- Find a quiet place, either at home or in nature, sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and focus solely on your breath. If you feel distracted, redirect your mind by saying “Oh Well” as many times as you need to. With the time, the gap between “Oh Wells” will decrease just keep trying.
- Write in a journal. Take few minutes daily to write what ever come to your mind without stopping the pen. No need to articulate or correct yourself, just keep writing your thoughts/emotions/words. Also, jot down something you like about yourself, something you accomplished, and something for which you are grateful.
- Power nap. Lower the lid on your laptop, turn your cell phone to silent, and snooze for twenty to thirty minutes. People who take power naps, process information better; have better memory, focus, and are less stressed.
- Escape in the latest fantasy book, romance novel, or an autobiography of a person you admire, your local library recently added to its shelves. When we read something that we enjoy, various parts of the brain get activated which release the “happy chemicals”
- De-clutter your internal & external environment. Since external seems easier for most people, let’s start with your pocketbook/wallet; your kitchen; your car; your desk and then of course select a few items from your closet or your drawers that you haven’t used in a year or two and donate them to Goodwill. For internal cleansing Meditation is a good start, it’s totally worth it.
- Practice yoga in its completeness. Yoga has eight Limbs. However, you may start with the third limb as it is more popular in the West, called Asnas, the physical/exercise part of Yoga. It is important that you do under a guidance of a Guru or a teacher. If you don’t know about sun salutation or downward facing dog, YouTube is a wonderful source for information.
- Give yourself credit. When you succeed at something, major or minor, pat yourself on the back and tell yourself you did a great job, start talking to your brain.
- Go for a stroll. Whether it’s around your block or through the woods, walk at a pace that’s relaxing and comfortable. Make sure your head is straight while walking and that you are wearing appropriate shoes. Walking posture needs to be accurate.
- Watch the sunrise/sunset. Life depends on the Sun. Wherever you are, try to observe the sunrise, it gives you energy to go on with the day. When Sun sets, it calms you down and prepares your body’s natural rhythm to go back to sleep.
Self-care is the best investment that we can make in order to to live happily and the best antidote to rising stress. Yes, there are daily stressors in our lives, and that’s why it’s even more important to have self-care routine/options to use just as frequently.