Is your life like a never-ending Bangles song? One Manic Monday after another with no end in sight? Then this post is for you. Stress and poor work/home life balance can cause a lot more harm than just a tension headache, sore muscles, or relationship problems. High stress is linked to heart trouble, stroke, and even early death. YIKES!!
By adding these simple self-care strategies to your daily routine you can lower your stress levels and even possibly prolong your life!
Self-Care Tip #1: Create distinct boundaries
So many of us continue to answer email, respond to phone calls, and otherwise work for free when we are off the clock. STOP doing this! You are only hurting yourself. Instead, create good boundaries between your work time and your home life. Don’t answer those emails or phone calls after hours. Clearly articulate that you can be reached during work hours only. Free yourself from any feelings of guilt because you are helping yourself as well as others learn how to treat and respect you.
Self-Care Tip #2: Exercise
Okay, I personally suck at this one. I’m just not into running, getting hot, or sweaty even though I know it’s good for me. I have learned, however, that yoga and Pilates really help me de-stress and unwind. The deep breathing combined with somewhat less strenuous movement are more relaxing. Plus the bonus is increasing your flexibility and core strength. I strongly encourage some type of exercise at least 3 times a week. Go for a walk in your neighborhood, ride a bike, go to the gym, do yoga at home using YouTube. There are even great apps that will help you work up to exercising more often or doing short workouts when you can squeeze them into a busy schedule. I like couch to 5K, seven minute workout, and simply Yoga FREE. (Insert links)
Self-Care Tip #3: Make time to do something you enjoy
This sounds like a no brainer, but a lot of the time we don’t make FUN a priority. It gets bumped off the list as frivolous to make room for other things that feel more important. I can promise you, fun is extremely important! We need this in order to refresh, enjoy life, and remind ourselves why we do all the other stuff. Make time to do the things you love; go shopping, build something, plant a garden, arrange flowers, go out with friends, attend book club, play video games, cook/bake, watch a movie or tv show, etc. I know a lot of people probably want to add drinking alcohol to this list. I don’t blame you at all, but be wary of using alcohol as a self-care method. It should not be used as one. Since alcohol is a depressant it will often times leave you feeling worse in the long run than better, healthy, or productive. I’m not saying you can’t drink of course, just don’t use drinking as self-care. I personally enjoy watching movies/tv shows, gardening, and shopping. I also love the spa!!! Hello massage and facials
Self-Care Tip #4: Meditate
It might sound hokey to some, but I believe this can be the key to creating peace in your life. You can call it whatever you want if Meditation sounds too weird, but crave out 5 to 10 minutes a few times a day to just be. Use an app like Calm to get started. This will help you clear your mind, reset yourself, and after consistent use you will definitely feel much more relaxed and at peace with things. Another benefit of using the Calm app is that you will get access to other helpful tools like sleep stories, sleep sounds, and body scan. Some of the app is free and others are locked and require you to purchase the app, but either way you still great benefits. I encourage you to try meditation three times a day; once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once in the evening (before bed). If that is too difficult, try once a day and build up from there.
Self-Care Tip #5: Eat well
Again, I’m not so great at this one but I know the better you eat the better you feel. I just can’t seem to say no to sweets! UGH! Therefore, I go with the moderation approach. I can have a little bit in small amounts. I try to be diligent about balancing meals; protein, veggies, fruits, carbs, etc. About a year ago I severely cut back on my caffeine intake by cutting out most soda. I drink Green Tea, Sprite, and other low caffeine options plus tons of water. I can’t really say enough about drinking LOTS of water other than it makes a HUGE difference. My skin is clearer, I have less headaches, I have more energy, and I sleep better. All because I drink more water. I encourage you all to really try it. I also would recommend you eat something high in protein before doing anything mentally or physically strenuous. Big tasks require more fuel. Treat your body well and it will repay you later.
I hope you enjoyed these tips/tricks. Where just one of these could start to change your life; they are much more effective when done together. Make a few changes, add these to your routine, and enjoy your new peaceful existence.
-Amelia Worthen LPC-Intern supervised by Meredith Ivey LPC-S, RPT-S