At this time in our lives, there are higher levels of depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses than ever. So, it is crucial that we remember to take care of ourselves to manage stress.
Self-care is important for your personal health and well-being. Consider your physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental health. Keeping these elements balanced requires some consistent self-love. Self-care is essential.
Although it’s sometimes viewed as a luxury — like trips to the spa, retreats, and getaways, it’s really made up of small, everyday steps you take to enhance your overall well-being. Remember that one of the best self-care strategies is sticking to a routine and making these actions part of your everyday life.
Here are 10 areas to focus on during these difficult times:
It can be tempting to turn to convenience food to save time, but in most cases, these are not healthy options. Take time to cook a meal, even if it is only something simple. This is helpful in relieving stress because it makes you feel better. Avoid stimulants as much as possible. Excess caffeine can make you feel anxious or on-edge. Eat a well-balanced diet that includes whole foods, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and protein.
Pay close attention to hunger cues, and only eat when you’re hungry. Eat slowly so you can savor each bite and give your body time to send signals of feeling satisfied. Recognize those signals and stop eating when you start feeling satisfied.
Try to do at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. Exercise makes the brain secrete chemicals that help keep neurons healthy. You can do something fun like go for a jog, walk your dog, ride a bike, gardening, lifting weights, -you name it! Moving your body is the key.
You also need to ensure that you get at least 7 hours every night. Don’t try to work or do things right up until you fall into bed. Instead, take half an hour or so before you go to bed to relax a bit. Without enough sleep, you face an increased risk of issues like depression, increased weight gain and inflammation, and decreased attention span.
4. Relax and Have Fun
Many people do not include relaxation or ‘fun’ time in their schedules, but both are extremely important for reducing stress. Taking in a full deep breath helps calm you down and helps control your stress levels. Get outside. Being outdoors boosts mood, eases anxiety, and reduces stress. Soak up the vitamin D. Spend time on a hobby you enjoy: painting, gardening, sewing, cooking, home improvement projects, whatever brings you joy. Play a good old board game with your family.
5. Focus on the Positive
Watch a funny movie or TV show. Laughter is good medicine! When we are stressed, it is tempting to focus on everything that is hard, or that is going wrong in our lives. However, thinking more positively—for example, by looking at what has gone well that day or week, or even over a longer period—can have positive effects on your mood. Your mind is a very powerful thing. It can drag you down, and it can also build you up.
6. Keep a Diary
Keeping a diary is an effective stress management tool as it will help you become more aware of the situations which cause you to become stressed. Note down the date, time and place of each stressful episode, and note what you were doing, who you were with, and how you felt both physically and emotionally. Give each stressful episode a stress rating (on, say, a 1-10 scale) and use the diary to understand what triggers your stress and how effective you are in stressful situations. This will enable you to avoid stressful situations and develop better coping mechanisms.
7. Keep in Contact with Friends/Family
Engaging in face-to-face interactions allows us to build positive, meaningful connections, however right now when we can’t necessarily physically be with someone, use video apps instead. Practice small acts of kindness with others. A little kindness goes a long way! Send notes of encouragement to others. Who doesn’t like to receive mail? Especially when it’s a note of encouragement from loved ones.
Do not feel that you have to cope with your problems alone. Asking for help is often hard, but it is a very good first step towards managing your stress better.
8. Keep Your Mind Active
Do crossword puzzles, word searches, Sudoku, and other brain-training activities.
9. Take a Break from the News, Social Media, and TV
The currency of ‘likes’ supplies external validation and releases various chemicals in our brains that make us feel good. The rapid changes in content and ability to just keep scrolling also discourage time-bound use. It is important for anyone using social media to understand that it is designed to be addictive. There is growing evidence that it is important to get into the habit of switching off your Smartphone periodically—and not just at night. Try taking time out from technology: spend time outside, or perhaps, reading a book instead.
And last but not least, actually, this is the most important one:
10. Spiritual Health
Listening to and singing worship songs can really uplift your spirits. Pray, taking time to talk with God can really help bring peace and wisdom not only during stressful times, but anytime! Praying is very powerful and has a positive impact on our mental and physical health.
Participate in online church services. One of the most positive things about the pandemic is that so many churches have put their services online via mediums such as: YouTube and Face book Live so you have a lot of options to stay connected and hear God’s Word, and participate in Worship.
Final Thoughts, when life gets chaotic and stressful, it can be easy to forget about the importance of self-care. Remember, Self-care isn’t a once-a-month trip to the spa, it involves taking care of yourself every day, without fail. Creating a self-care checklist is an easy way to outline your physical, social, mental, spiritual and health needs. I care about you and I hope these tips will help you to navigate these difficult times in a more positive, stress-reduced manner.