Self-Care Helps Cope With Stress
When we become stressed out, our self-care is often the first thing to go. This is true for a couple of reasons. First, our brains go into fight-or-flight mode, narrowing our perspective.1 We have options to cope with stress, but we are unable to see them—and the options are often self-care.1 Second, we are so concerned with solving the problem that is causing our stress that we get tunnel vision and don’t recognize when we need a break to eat, sleep, or relax.1 Our self-care habits are put on the back-burner and we forget to do them.1 However, there are several self-care options that actually help us cope with stress, and none of them are difficult or take much planning.1
When you are overcome with stress and need to calm your mind, focusing on the sensations around you—sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and touch—help you to focus on the present moment, allowing for a break from your worries.1 Focus on those sensations: breath in some fresh air, listen to running water, sit outdoors for a few minutes, take a hot shower or a warm bath, get a massage, burn a scented candle, or listen to music.1 Pull yourself back into the moment, away from panic mode.
Another way to take care of your stressed self is to do something enjoyable.1 You need to eat, so take yourself out to dinner.1 Tour your community or city.1 Garden.1 Watch a movie.1 Journal.1 Go for a walk.1 Just take a little break and let yourself smile.
If you are looking for a boost of motivation, complete a task that you have been avoiding or challenge your brain in a new way.1 For example, clean out your junk drawer (and see what treasures you find), try a new activity, drive to a new place and explore, make a list, read a topic you wouldn’t normally read, do a puzzle (crossword, word search, Sudoku, etc.).1
In stressful situations, it is easy to lose touch with the values that allow you to keep a calm mind.1 Activities we define as spiritual are very personal and help combat stress.1 Attend church, read poetry or inspiring quotes, meditate, write, spend time surrounded by nature, pray, or make a list of what you are grateful for.1 Take a minute to unwind and regroup.
Our emotions can be challenging during times of stress, and they can’t be avoided.1 Accept your feelings, write them down, cry if you need to, laugh when you can, and have self-compassion.1 Your emotions are important.1
Being physical is also a great way to deal with stress and care for yourself.1 Try yoga, go for a walk (or a run!), dance, stretch, go on a bike ride, and remember to rest.1
Last, but not least, connecting with others is extremely important.1 Don’t isolate yourself in times of stress.1 Have lunch with a friend, call someone and catch up, join a club, or host a get-together.1 Everyone goes through similar stressful situations, and it is good to remember that you are not alone.1