How many times have you heard your doctor say, “You have to manage your stress before it manages you.” or something to that effect? If you don’t believe them, just wait until stress really does start managing you!
What is stress anyways?
Stress isn’t always produced from the perceived ‘bad’ things we experience in a day, a week or a month. Stress can sneak up on us when we are experiencing the very things we hoped and prayed for. The dictionary defines stress as a state of mental or emotional strain from demanding circumstances.
Taking care of ourselves isn’t exactly as easy as it sounds, especially when you have little ones under foot, a taxing job, a million different roles that we as women play on any given day, but with a little practice, it can become easier or at least more of a good habit than a mad scramble when the last straw has broken our already bending back, from the pressures of life.
Here are 8 things you do in this minute to give yourself a little lovin’ that doesn’t require you to plan ahead or even scramble to find a sitter.
- Breathe. Everything in our body is built on a rhythm. Our hearts beats to a steady rhythm, brain waves create a pattern of rhythm, our breathing is rhythmic too. When we can stop for a few minutes and focus on breathing, we re-establish a pattern of calm that got washed over in a flood of anxiety provoked adrenaline. Concentrate on deep, slow breaths. Try to inhale for 3 seconds and exhale for 6. The inhale helps to lift and energize us, while the exhale stabilizes us.
- Be kind. We are much better at being kind and forgiving to total strangers than we are to ourselves. What’s up with that? It’s okay to have an ‘off’ day. It’s okay if the kids stay in their pajamas all day long. It’s okay if maybe you weren’t as productive at the office as you were hoping to be. When we cut out the negative self talk, we make more room to see the good things we do in a day. Be your own best friend.
- Check your perspective. When stress creeps in to our life, it’s easy to lose our focus and we can’t see the forest…you know how that goes. Maybe you had a bad day. That doesn’t mean you have a bad life.
- Unplug. This is not just a trendy thing to do. It’s an important, even critical thing to do. Technology and social media creates a stress that we don’t often notice. Checking in on Facebook every hour, literally creates new pathways in your brain and soon enough, before you even realize, your brain needs that ‘fix’ to keep the pathway strong. Unplugging isn’t easy for this very reason. Your brain thinks you need it but it really just feeds your stress. When you can unplug and place a new, healthy, self care habit in it’s place, you will find your levels of stress diminish somewhat because the pressures of the world will weigh less upon you and take up less space in your daily ‘To Do’s’.
- Be still. Just sit. When was the last time you just sat and did nothing. You can call this meditation if you want but that word seems to conjure up it’s own agenda of stress. Just sitting can be refreshing and break the cycles of anxiety and worry that often accompany stress.
- Reach out. When we feel stressed or even anxious, it’s easy to isolate. Sometimes, the very thing we need is connection. A soft place to land. A friend to talk things out with and witness the comings and goings of our life. There is great healing power in being witnessed and feeling like we have a place to belong. Stressful events can take on a life of their own when they remain stuck in our own heads. When you share your thoughts and get them out, they lose their steam and momentum.
There are countless ways and means to take care of ourselves. It’s crucial to our overall well being. You can’t run on empty forever, no matter how much you enjoy living in denial. One way or another, you will be forced to slow down. It’s always better to make a conscious choice now, than to be surprised on a day we least expect it all to catch up with us. When women neglect their own care, they become sick, overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, and suffer unhappiness and low self esteem.