Self-care often gets placed on the back burner when more pressing concerns dominate our lives. When you’re worried about work, kids, school or family, it’s all too easy to skip a meal, forget your workout regimen or even neglect your personal hygiene. Unfortunately, letting these elements of wellness fall to the side is not good for you in any sense of the word.
While it’s often easier said than done, wellness should be a top priority as you navigate a stressful period. Here are some tips to help you make that happen.
Why everyone needs some TLC
During periods of stress, many people have convinced themselves that the most effective way to get work done is to hunker down and get work done! Breaks might sound like a waste of time, but that’s simply not the case. In fact, carving out time for self-care and wellness will make you more productive and reduce your risk of burnout and stress-induced health problems. Simple practices like taking a shower, going for a walk or observing your body during mindfulness make it easier to notice when you’re stressed and find solutions.
Self-care is an investment in your physical and mental health and the people around you. If you’re drained, you won’t have the energy to nurture your relationships with loved ones. There’s an adage that says, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” What you put in is what you put out, and self-care creates the right mindset that will enable you to move forward with confidence.
Self-care does more than make you feel good in the moment, though. Multiple forms of self-care have been linked to a longer, healthier life. People who follow a healthy diet and exercise routine on are less likely to develop heart problems and typically experience lower mortality rates. This goes to show that self-care isn’t just about indulging in a bubble bath—it’s a lifestyle that promotes health and ensures your body is receiving the care it needs.
Easy tips for prioritizing self-care during stressful times
One of the reasons people put off self-care when they’re stressed is because they don’t know where to start. However, you don’t have to plan an expensive trip to the spa or spend large chunks of time away from work. The best self-care practices are simple, free and only take a couple minutes. Here are a few ideas that work great for everyone.
- Set your intentions for the day: When you first wake up, think about what you want to accomplish and the energy you want to put out into the world. Intentions will differ from person to person and can range from successfully pitching a business proposal at work to simply getting out of bed. Whatever it may be, positive thinking will set the right tone for the rest of your day.
- Schedule breaks: Stepping away from a stressful task allows your brain to recharge so that you can accomplish more tasks in the long run. When you’re on that grind, it’s easy to let the hours fly by without stopping to take care of yourself. That’s why you should plan ahead and incorporate breaks into your schedule. Set an alarm or leave notes on your desk that remind you to grab a healthy snack, stretch or get in your steps for the day.
- Go for a walk in the park: To some, exercise sounds like a drag. However, a bit of light exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress and can be fun when you choose an activity that suits your interests. You don’t have to spend money on a gym membership, either—walking outside is free, and green spaces promote a sense of wellbeing much better than a treadmill!
- Practice bodily awareness: The mind and body are intimately connected. Stress manifests physically in various parts of the body, and where you experience stress might be different than your peers. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to close your eyes and focus on your body. Pay attention to where you feel pain or tension, whether that’s your chest, shoulders, stomach or anywhere else. If your muscles are tense, progressive muscle relaxation can help you let go of tension and, in turn, your stress.
Remember, you can’t light the way for yourself or others if you’re burned out. Never let anyone make you feel guilty for taking care of your physical and mental wellbeing. Sit back, relax and enjoy the me time you reclaim for yourself—you deserve it!