It’s been a hectic week for you. You feel drained and exhausted. You’d love to just curl up with a book but you. have. no. time. It feels as if everyone needs something from you and the truth is, you only have so much to give. When your life looks like this, self-care is the first thing to go. You can change this by making self-care a way of life.
Stress is bit of a two-faced devil.
On the one hand, it can help you perform. It can get you motivated, and give you the inspiration that you need to accomplish a task. It gives you boost of energy and it keeps you on your toes, awake and alert.
But it also has a darker side. If you experience stress for extended periods it can overwhelm you. It steals your sleep. It weakens your immune system and leaves you vulnerable to disease.
Your body struggles to cope with the amount of cortisol that floods it, as a result of stress, and it can lead to high blood pressure, mood swings, anxiety and depression.
You find yourself making poor decisions. You snap easily at the people you love and some mornings you wish you could just pull the covers over your head and stay in bed.
Your creativity slumps and every task on your list feels like such a drag.
Self-care will save your sanity
That is not an exaggeration (ok maybe a touch). But. It is one of the most important things we can do for our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing (yes alllll of those).
Unfortunately, self-care is often one of the first things to go when we are in survival mode.
Two kinds of self-care
I differentiate between “done-for-you” and “do-it-yourself” self-care.
“Done-for-you” self-care is where you go for a pedi, mani, haircut, you buy yourself something nice or spoil yourself.
“DIY” self-care is when you clean out your emotional closet by talking about the stuff that bothers you. when you shine a light on the fear and limiting beliefs that you have, and when you reduce the volume of the noise inside your head.
Make self-care a way of life DIY style
Step 1: Identify your stressors
You need to teach yourself to differentiate between the two sides of stress.
This can be hard because the nature of too much stress causes you to be blind to its effects until it’s too late. So you need to develop your awareness muscles so that you know when you are entering into the dark side of being too stressed.
Do this: Make a list of things you know you do when you’re stressed out, which you can then use as awareness triggers.
Here are some ideas to get your started:
- Anger responses that are totally out of proportion to the situation.
- Feelings of resentment towards people and events in your life.
- Feeling overwhelmed and not knowing what to do first.
- Developing tunnel-vision where you are only focused on the thing that is occupying most of your time.
- Unable to sleep because you keep on playing the same thoughts or conversation you had with someone, over and over in your mind.
- Feeling lethargic and uninspired.
Step 2: Interrupt yourself
Next, you need to break your own pattern. As soon as you recognize the warning signs of dark stress, shift your focus. Choose do take a different action or think a different thought in the moment which will shift your direction.
Do this: Come up with at least 5 things you can do to take back control.
Some ideas are:
- Go for a walk
- Phone a friend
- Get a hug
- Make yourself a cup of tea
- Talk about what is going on for you
- Take a power nap
- Dance to your favorite music
- Read a novel
- Cry or shout for a bit (and then move on)
- Write in your journal
- Meet a friend for lunch
- Have a virtual coffee with your business bestie
- Organize your cupboards ( oh clearing-out, how I love thee)
Step 3: Develop some self-care rituals
When you consciously decide on your priorities and what is important to you, it helps you to take better care of yourself, your loved ones and your biz.
Everybody has their own set of self-care rituals and practices that works best for them. You can figure out what yours is by brainstorming a list of things that make you feel good, motivated, rested and peaceful.
A good way to build new habits is by consistently doing it at the same time, every day.
My self-care ritual is yoga. I have been doing yoga every morning for more than a year now. I started out by doing a basic set routine of 15 minutes until it became a habit. I have since moved to
Weekdays, I get up before anyone else in the house so that I can have this me-time. It grounds me, I use it as a moving meditation and when I skip a day or two, I start to miss it!
- Create a list of self-care actions
- Choose ONLY ONE that you and start doing right now
- Commit to a set time every day when you will take care of yourself
Have you considered how you can make self-care a way of life? You will thank yourself when you do!