What to do When Stress Takes Over, Part II
In Part I of my stress management series, I talked about how breathing techniques and meditation can help you regroup when you’re under stress. Now, I want to show you why proper self-care is absolutely critical in helping you manage stress successfully.
This isn’t the first time I’ve written about the importance of self-care – in the past, I’ve explained why self-care is the foundation of true success. Self-care is equally as important when it comes to conquering stress.
Why Self-Care Matters
Why is self-care so vital? Think about the last time you were really stressed. I bet you felt like the situation was overwhelming you – it might have been difficult to see a way out or to focus on anything but the stressor.
Therein lies the problem. When you become overwhelmed and begin to focus primarily on the stressful situation, you essentially become like a hamster in a wheel, spinning around and around, never really getting anywhere. This approach will quickly take you to one destination – burnout.
Elements of Self-Care
The basic elements of self-care that you should be incorporating in to your life include:
Eat right to live right. Nutrition isn’t just a component of stress management, it’s essential to leading a healthy life. Pay special attention to how you feel after consuming certain foods. Sometimes, the very foods you think you enjoy the most are the ones you’ll find aren’t the best for you. Choose foods that make you feel well, and avoid those that don’t agree with you.
Exercise. You’ve heard how exercise can help ward off serious diseases like cancer and diabetes, but did you know exercise is one of the best things you can do for your mood? John Ratey, a Harvard Medical School psychiatrist, says that exercise is the #1 thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory, and learning. So get out there and work up a sweat!
Socialize. Make time for socialization – it’s your chance to connect with others. Plus, socialization has some surprising benefits. The University of Rochester Medical Center says socialization is important to keep your mind sharp and healthy – and it can possibly ward off dementia in later life! Those who continue close friendships and find other ways to interact socially tend to live longer than those who do not.
Enjoy your hobbies. Hobbies are more than just taking some fun time away from it all. Enjoying your hobbies can also help you build confidence as you become better and better at something. Some hobbies allow you to spend time alone, while others give you a chance to get together with people who share your interests. Perhaps best of all, hobbies can help you lower stress by helping you feel more like yourself again.
Indulge in Yourself. Take an unplugged vacation (if you can) to get away from it all. If now isn’t the right time for a getaway, find other ways to pamper yourself. Get a massage, schedule a spa day, do some golfing or play your favorite sport, go shopping or plan a girl’s night out. If you’re on a budget, no problem. You don’t have to spend anything to pamper yourself – play hooky for a day, relax at home, or tinker in your backyard. Go ahead, indulge!
One of the best ways to empower yourself is to celebrate the accomplishments you’ve already made. Many people focus so much on doing more and being more, they forget to give themselves a pat on the back once in a while. If you’re one of those people, you might be missing out on a key way to manage current stressors.
Stop to embrace all the achievements that have brought you to where you are today – and use this as a positive momentum to propel you forward. Take a five-minute breather and think about how you’ve overcome stressful circumstances in the past. Really remind yourself of how good it felt to conquer an obstacle.
As you begin to incorporate more of the elements of self-care into your daily life, you’ll notice how you’re better able to cope with – and conquer- the stressful situations you face.
Which one of the elements of self-care that I discussed above do you have the hardest time with? Is it tough for you to eat healthy, do you have a hard time committing to exercise, or do you forget to give yourself a pat on the back every so often? Share your thoughts with us below!