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Stress is a killer. It can lead to inflammation throughout your body, triggering the onset of several undesirable health conditions. It also attacks your emotions and mind, which can lead to neurological disorders, emotional eating, detachment from friends and family, anxiety and depression.
Unfortunately, it is also unavoidable. Stress happens to everyone, regardless of age, sex, culture or any other demographic.
The only way to avoid, or at least minimize these health hazards is by learning how to care for yourself during times of great stress.
Contrary to what you may think, Self-Care Isn’t Selfish. It’s Necessary! At. All Times. But even more so during stressful times
Self-care has been shown to strengthen our immune system so we are less likely to fall ill. It also helps to center the mind and help us stay more emotionally balanced. All of these together can help us get through those stressful times more gracefully and minimize the negative impact the stress.
Self-care during stressful times may seem like a luxury you can’t afford. After all, isn’t there a fire or several fires that you need to put out? Taking a moment to care for yourself when there is chaos all around may seem like a waste of time. Believe me, it isn’t. What’s more, by self-care I’m not suggesting taking a week-long vacation or even a weekend at a spa. The tips you’ll find below are simple, easy tips that anyone can definitely fit into their day.
1. Practice Meditative Techniques
Meditation has been proven to be very effective in reducing stress and anxiety. The idea is that the stillness helps to center your mind and make you feel more balanced.
Meditation and mindfulness play a huge role in helping you to maintain your mental and emotional health, even benefiting aspects of your physical health. Here’s what meditation can do for you.
- Greater outlook on life (positivity)
- Increased feelings of calmness
- Greater self-awareness
- Reduced levels of anxiety and stress.
- Improved focus
The best part is, there are several different types of meditative techniques that you can try out. You don’t have to be in a particular physical environment or area to meditate either.
You don’t have to spend hours meditating either. Even a few minutes a day can help you feel calmer and less stressed.
Close your eyes, calm your mind, and focus on your breathing. It takes time to get into that zone where you start to feel the stress slipping away. Don’t give up too soon. Keep at it and you WILL start to get the benefits of meditation for stress relief.
If you find yourself struggling to stay focused, try using a Tibetan Singing Bowl. The pure sonic waves emitted by a Tibetan Singing Bowl generate soothing sounds that work as a type of natural energy medicine. These unique sounds create the ideal create for deep meditation that alleviates stress and anxiety.
If you need help getting started with meditation, there are plenty of free and paid meditation resources online that you can refer to. Daniel Laporte’s Meditation Kits are a great place to start.
2. Create a Relaxing Atmosphere At Home
There’s no denying that your environment can impact your mood. A messy home or cluttered workplace can leave you feeling completely overwhelmed and stressed.
Take a few minutes to clear up your home and your work space. Keep surfaces clear with only a few select objects that enhance the space without making it look too cluttered.
Add pictures and decor items that soothe you and make you happy. This is a place where you can mentally reset your emotions, minimizing the impact of stress.
Diffuse relaxing essential oils or light aromatherapy candles in whichever room you’re in. How to Use Aromatherapy For Relaxation – Top 10 Relaxing Essential Oils & How To Use Them
Listen to soothing classical or jazz music.
End the day, at least one day a week, with a soak in a warm tub to which you’ve added relaxing essential oils.
3. Keep a Journal
Keeping a journal is an excellent and easy to start practicing self-care during stressful times. And it’s so easy to do too.
What’s interesting is that you’ll find different types of journals that you can choose from. Some journals are designed to relieve stress through gratitude, others are filled with profanity so you can swear your stress away and still others are designed to calm you down. Feel like punching something when you’re stressed? This journal’s for you – Wreck This Journal: Now In Color.
Check out my top choice for Stress-Relief Journals on Amazon and pick one that resonates with you. Don’t forget to buy a high-quality pen for your journaling practice. You’ll enjoy writing in your journal while also getting the stress-relief benefits of the act.
When journaling for stress relief, don’t worry too much about what to write. Just let your thoughts flow. You can write about what is bothering you, what happened during the day that stressed you out or just about anything that you want to. Writing down your thoughts and feelings gives you a space to vent and release those pent up emotions, which can be truly cathartic.
Also, definitely don’t stress over achieving perfection in your grammar or flow of writing. This will only add to your stress and cause you to give up. A journal is meant to be a non-judgmental place to write down your thoughts.
If writing is not something you enjoy, go ahead and doodle in your journal. Doodling is a fun way to relieve stress.
Digital journaling is another great option. Just open up your laptop and start typing away to vent your feelings.
4. Indulge In a Creative Activities
Another way to practice self-care is to indulge in creative activities or spend time on a hobby that you enjoy. Get out those knitting needles or crochet hooks. Bring out your painting supplies and sketch away. These types of activities offer multiple benefits. For one, the repetitive actions help to calm you down. Secondly, after you’re done you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment that can be truly satisfying.
Get a couple of these and some colored pencils and bring them you everywhere. Spend some time coloring during your lunch break or any time you are feeling particularly stressed at home. These adult coloring books are easy to keep in your bag for use during long commutes or while waiting for an appointment.
5. Make Healthier Comfort Food Choices
Do you crave rich sweet foods when you’re feeling stressed? Most of us do. French fries, rich velvety chocolate pastries, creamy cheesecake… these are the favorite foods for most people when they’re going through a bad patch. While indulging in these foods do instill the feel-good factor in you, that euphoria is only short-lived. As you continue to indulge, you will start to experience the negative sides of it, from weight gain to heart problems. Ultimately, that will only cause more stress.
The solution? Look for healthier alternatives to your traditional comfort foods.
Craving chocolate? Switch from sweet milk chocolate to dark chocolate.
If you absolutely must have a sandwich, use multi-grain instead of white bread.
These small changes make a huge difference.
Include these superfoods in your diet:
• Dark leafy greens like kale and spinach
• Strawberries and blueberries
• Almonds, cashews, walnuts
• Chia seeds
• Pomegranate seeds
• Wild salmon or tuna
All of the foods on this list work great as comfort foods without adding on calories to your diet.
Additional resources on Superfoods for Self-Care During Stressful Times
7. Indulge in Fun Physical Activities
The last thing you may feel like doing is being active but it is a crucial aspect of self-care for stress relief.
Physical activity promotes the release of endorphins, which are feel-good hormones. Elevating the endorphin levels in your body increases the feel-good factor and reduces stress levels. Getting physical also helps you feel fitter and more energetic, which boosts confidence and self-esteem, so feel better about yourself.
This does not mean you need to sweat it out in the gym or do gut-busting crunches every day. When you are exercising for stress relief, the key is to do something fun.
Consider these easy and enjoyable fun physical activities:
- Dance like nobody’s watching! Dancing to your favorite tunes is the best stress-busting exercise ever. Just put on the music and let your body move to the music to release the pent-up stress.
- Learn new dance moves. This is a great idea when you’re looking for fun physical activities for stress relief. Think about which dance form you want to learn and look for online classes or free YouTube videos.
- Gardening is great for stress relief. Pottering around in your garden just feel so relaxing. And as an added bonus, you will enjoy the fruits of your labor in the form of fresh herbs, nutritious vegetables or colorful flowers.
- Take a walk outdoors. Better still, walk outdoors barefoot, whether it’s on the beach or in your garden. Forest Bathing, which is the practice of walking barefoot and feeling the earth under your feet has significant stress relieving benefits.
- Plan a short or long hike over the weekend so the whole family is exercising more.
In the best-selling book, Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness Dr. Qing Li, the world’s foremost expert in forest medicine explains beautifully how spending mindful, intentional time around trees–what the Japanese call shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing–can promote health and happiness, reduce stress levels, strengthen your immune system, and boost energy levels.
Shinrin Yoku: The Japanese Art of Forest Bathing is another interesting book that delves into the benefits of Forest Bathing.
7. Look at Things More Objectively
Stressful situations may not always as full-blown as we think they are. We sometimes tend to exaggerate a situation.
Look at your circumstances as if you were a nonjudgmental outsider. This allows you to identify the real cause of stress, and then you can act accordingly.
8. Start a Gratitude Practice
Practicing gratitude helps you to focus on what you have instead of what you don’t have.
Some days it’s just too hard to see the wood for the trees. You’ll find yourself focusing on something that has upset you and that troublesome thought will nag away at you constantly. Taking some time to sit quietly and think about something you are grateful for will help reduce the negative thoughts and feelings and replace them with positive ones.
Starting a gratitude practice is easy. Every day, either after you wake up or just before you go to sleep, make it a habit to write down three things you are grateful for. There’s always something to be grateful for but sometimes we just forget about it.
Keeping a gratitude journal helps you focus on the positive. It fosters optimism, boosts self-esteem, and helps you feel calmer and ready to face whatever is yet to come.
Good Days Start With Gratitude: A 52 Week Guide To Cultivate An Attitude Of Gratitude. With over 4,400 ratings on Amazon alone, this is the top-rated gratitude journal.
9. Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
No, I’m not talking about clean sheets, though that helps too. Sleep hygiene refers to the nightly routine that helps you prepare for sleep.
Some things you can do:
- Keep the room as dark as possible
- Keep all electronics out of the bedroom
- Add a few drops of any one of these Deep Sleep Diffuser Blends in your diffuser and place in your bedroom.
- If you don’t have a diffuser you can make your own relaxing pillow spray using any of these essential oils for sleep.
10. Spend More Time With Friends
Socializing has been proven to reduce stress levels.
11. During Situational Stress, Change Your Environment Even If Just For a Few Minutes
Doing times of situational stress, simply putting some distance between you and the situation can help you feel calmer and more in control.
If you can, go outside and take a walk. Forest bathing works wonderfully during these times of high stress.
It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you decide to walk, just keep a pace that works for you. Some prefer a brisk pace to work the stress out of their system, others prefer a slower pace to catch their breath and slow their racing mind.
If you cannot go outdoors, at least go to another room and spent time reading a light-hearted book or get a few laughs watching popular stand-up comics.
Sometimes, when your environment is causing your stress, getting away for even just 5 or 10 minutes can help you come back feeling refreshed and ready to tackle any challenge in front of you.
12 – Consider Getting Yourself a Stress Toy
Check out these stress relief toys that are surprisingly effective at alleviating stress levels and making you feel calmer.
Further Reading – Excellent Books on Self-Care During Stressful Times
12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos – This best-selling book has earned more than 11,200 reviews on Amazon
All of the books mentioned above are available in several formats so you can choose one that best aligns with your reading style. There’s hardcover and paperback if you like the traditional feel of flipping the pages as you hold the book in your hand.
Prefer reading on your Kindle? Get the Kindle version of your favorite book on self-care.
If you like reading on the go, you can choose from Audio CD or Audible Audiobook. If you haven’t used Amazon’s Audible Audiobook before, you can get a one-month trial here. Just pick the book you like and read it for free during your trial period. It’s a great way to listen while you’re cooking, sewing or crafting.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to serve as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before using any natural medication or if you experience any unusual symptoms. See Full Disclaimer here.