Recently, I declared a self-care day.
I woke up when my body felt rested, ate breakfast, saw my son off to pre-school, and headed to my yoga class. The instructor reminded me to focus and breathe. After a rejuvenating practice, I headed home for a leisurely lunch with my husband. Later that afternoon I enjoyed an hour massage and then treated myself to a nourishing vegetarian meal of soy tempeh with kale, red onion, beets and brown rice at a favorite local eatery. My body thanked me for treating it well. I completed my self-care day with a session of acupuncture. After a full day of nurturing myself, my mind felt clear and focused. My mood was calmer. I now felt like I could tackle the week ahead of me.
I attempt to balance work and home life but often feel like I’m trying to keep a ball on top of a triangle. Inevitably it slides down one side or the other. It’s difficult to find time for myself. After an entire week of juggling these responsibilities I feel irritable, anxious, angry, and depleted. However, over the last two years, I have been making an effort to consciously practice the art of self-care. This means that I can’t rely on finding time to care for myself; I have to make time for it.
Recently on a plane ride home from a fabulous weekend of sister bonding, I was reflecting on how I manage to do what I do every day, and still stay sane.
I came up with a list of strategies that have helped me to overcome major stress in my life (past and present). I am finally learning what it means to take good care of myself. So can you.
Below is a list of 10 strategies to conquer stress and feel inspired instead:
1. Nourish yourself daily – physically, emotionally and spiritually. Eat a healthy meal. Take time to eat breakfast in the morning. Take a leisurely 10-minute stroll around the block. Notice your surroundings. Take a lunch break. Talk to people who are friendly and kind. Say a prayer or start the day with an intention or mantra. Be kind to yourself. Listen to your body. Take a lot of breaks. Drink a lot of water. Don’t forget to breathe.
2. Seek out healthy supports when you need them. Don’t wait for others to offer help. Ask for it. Say yes to offers of assistance, friendship and support. Feel good about it. Accepting help is a sign of strength. It means you can trust yourself to make decisions that will improve your life. Sometimes, we need the help of close friends and family to lift us up and keep us moving.
3. Let go of people who are not available. Sometimes, there are people we care about who are not emotionally available. Don’t take it personally. Often, when we know the full story, it turns out that these people need help themselves. Sometimes, unfortunately there are people who are just not interested in helping and we have to accept that. We can’t make others be there for us the way we want them to be. All we can do is focus on the people who are able, willing and available in their own way. Thank them, love them, and give only when you are well and able.
4. Declare a self-care day! Take time off from work and home responsibilities at least once a month, if possible. Visit a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Drive to the beach. See a movie by yourself. Get a massage. Go to yoga. Take yourself on a picnic. Spend the day in your pajamas eating your favorite food and watching movies. Be creative. The options are endless.
5. Be kind and patient with yourself. Notice your self-talk (in other words, the thoughts you pay attention to in your mind). Are they harsh and critical or comforting and supportive? Give yourself time to get tasks done. Do them mindfully. Focus fully in the moment. Savor it. Don’t rush through your activity or worry about what’s next. That moment hasn’t arrived yet.
6. Do what matters to you. Don’t worry about other people’s opinions about it. Have confidence in yourself that you will make the right decision. Use your wisdom. Seek out information from credible sources when you need it. Knowledge is power. Our hearts feel the truth, and our minds see the truth. Use them wisely.
7. Seek out friendships with people who are like-minded and share similar values in terms of integrity, respect, compassion and kindness. We can agree to disagree with people whose values don’t match our own. We can provide empathy to others, but we don’t ever have to compromise our own integrity in the process.
8. Do something you feel passionate about. Think of what you like to do that seems to make time fly by and leaves you feeling energized and motivated to do more. Try to spend at least one day a week doing that.
9. Be there for yourself. Give yourself what you need. Don’t wait for others to fulfill your needs. You are the only one who can take care of yourself. Remember to take good care of you.
10. Slow down. Enjoy your life. Notice what you have, not what’s missing. Be patient with yourself on difficult days, because there will be many. Rest. Sleep. Nourish your body. Feed your soul. Say kind words to yourself daily. Give yourself the love you deserve. You are amazing!