Life can be so hectic, with us juggling so many different jobs, responsibilities, and obligations. Meeting the needs of everyone else, yet neglecting ourselves is, unfortunately, a common occurrence and can lead to illness or to using unhealthy habits to relieve the pressure. Knowing healthy ways to reduce our stress can have such significant impact on our daily lives, allowing us to be more fluid, flexible, and resilient.
I went to a stress reduction workshop a few years ago, and one of the points they made really impacted me. The workshop speaker talked about how everyone has a toolbox for dealing with stress. Some of those things in the toolbox may be helpful in the long run or detrimental (i.e. meditation, drinking, excessive eating, etc). We can all learn new, better tools for dealing with our stress. To get started here are some ideas for self-care. Try one or several as they appeal to you. Remember that you deserve it. Make taking care of yourself number one on your to-do list.
Sleep. Do you regularly get 6-8 hours of sleep? Try to make the time. I could write a whole post on sleep, which I probably will do in the future.
Meditation. Simple breathing meditation, performed regularly, can help one gain new perspectives on stressful situations, increase self-awareness, focus on the present and reduce negative emotions. It can also help with physical disorders, such as anxiety, asthma, depression. To get started here is a very nice article. Remember to start small; even five minutes is beneficial. 1
Aromatherapy is the use of the pure essential oils from plants for a therapeutic effect. When inhaled, essentials oils directly affect the brain. The 'smell' receptors in your nose communicate with your amygdala and hippocampus that serve as storehouses for emotions and memories. Stimulating these parts of your brain can influence physical, emotional and mental health. Some essential oils known for their relaxation benefits include: Lavender, Cypress, Clary Sage, Geranium, and Tangerine. You can add a few drops to an aromatherapy diffuser or add a few drops to a handkerchief and inhale the scent. 2
Exercise. Not exercise that is like work, but physical activity that is fun. Try something new: dance at home to your favorite music or commune with nature by taking a nature walk.
Book a massage! Massage is a wonderful way to take care of yourself. Studies have shown that massage therapy is a means by which stress can be reduce significantly on physical and psychological levels.3
I hope you find these ideas a good starting point in adding some time for yourself. Think about what brings you rest and relaxation and remember to add it to your life on a consistent basis. Even when life is calm, it is important to practice self-care, so when the going does get tough, you have the tools to fall back on.
2 Shutes, Jade and Weaver, Christine Aromatherapy for Bodyworkers Pearson/Prentice Hall 2008
Louden, Jennifer The Woman's Comfort Book Harper San Francisco 1992