We may be living in the prime of our lives, but none of us are immune to stress. Even in this age of technology and connectivity, it’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed or isolated.
When we start to feel stress bubbling up inside, it’s important to have healthy outlets to act like release valves, allowing us to let off steam or just decompress. Not only is that good practice for overall mental health, but it can also benefit our physical health.
Five Ways to Take Care of Yourself
What calms you down may be different than your best friend or family member. Explore these areas of self-care and find what works best for you:
- Make Time for ‘Me Time.’ Just as you do for doctors’ and dentists’ appointments, schedule time for your mental self-care. Block time in your calendar for mood-boosting activities, like:
- Moving your body. Dancing, swimming, walking, tai chi and other types of exercise are great for both physical and mental health.
- Reading a book. When our own world seems to be a bit much, escaping into a story is a nice diversion.
- Working on your hobbies. These are things you love to do, so carve out some time and do them!
- Taking a bath. Luxuriate in the tub. For added relaxation, light some scented candles or use aromatherapy.
- Journaling. Writing down your thoughts which may help clear your mind.
- Prioritizing sleep. Get good quality sleep so you can feel mentally clear and refreshed each morning.
- Surrender to Forces Bigger Than You. Think of when you were a child. It felt good to be enveloped into an embrace, cared for and protected. We can get the same feeling in a variety of ways as an adult:
- Get outside and commune with nature. Feeling the warm sun on your face or the wind in your hair can be rejuvenating, refreshing, even soothing. For indoor days, listening to nature sounds on your electronic device is a good substitute.
- Pray or seek spiritual guidance. For some, spiritual activities and rituals can be a powerful source of comfort and connection.
- Meditate or do yoga. Simply listening to the sound of your own breath or trying to clear away thoughts through meditation can be an effective way of calming the mind.
- Spend Time with Others. ‘Me time’ is great but connecting with others can help stave off loneliness. Here are some things you can do:
- Call a friend. Better yet, meet up in person.
- Volunteer. Helping others helps us feel better. Find opportunities near you and do things you enjoy.
- Cuddle with an animal. Having a pet can reduce stress and anxiety. No pet at home? volunteer at an animal shelter, offer to care for a friend’s pet or see if there’s a cat café nearby to visit.
- Take Out Your Stress. Let’s face it – there are some days when that stress bubble grows so large that you just want to explode. Channel that energy into something constructive, like:
- Using a punching bag. It’s a terrific upper body workout. No bag? Try shadowboxing or throwing darts at a dartboard.
- Pumping iron. Lifting medium to heavy weights or doing some kind of high intensity, vigorous activity like running or power walking gets your heart pumping.
- Baking. Punching dough when baking bread or whacking cake pans to get the air bubbles out of the batter not only helps bring your stress levels down, but you’ll also have something delicious to enjoy later!
- Get a massage. Unknotting tense muscles can be a powerful stress reliever. You don’t need an expensive spa day – even a chair massage kiosk in the mall or a drop-in session at a reflexology (foot massage) clinic can be just what you need.
- Seek Professional Help. It takes considerable strength to reach out and ask for help from a licensed professional. That first step is always the hardest, but the benefits are well worth it. If you don’t know where to begin, start with your insurance to see which healthcare practitioners are covered by your medical plan. You can also find out if you qualify for telehealth services.