The following article, written by Elizabeth Scott, has some great suggestions for overall self-care. This article was originally published on VeryWell.
You can’t always control the circumstances that life throws your way, but you can control how well you take care of yourself. Taking proper care of your body, soul and mind can keep you in optimum shape for handling stress, which gives you as much resilience as possible to help you manage those uncontrollable things in life. The following are some important basic self care strategies that can keep you functioning well and ready for life’s challenges.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is very important for your emotional and physical wellbeing. Lack of sleep can negatively impact your ability to handle stress, be productive, and function properly. Unfortunately, busy schedules and stress can make sleep more elusive. Between having too little time for sleep, having a hard time falling asleep, and getting poor-quality sleep from stress, getting adequate shuteye isn’t always easy, but it is vital.
Fortunately, there are many things you can to to support your sleep habits, from using time management strategies to carve out more time, to finding relaxation techniques to help you fall asleep and get quality sleep all night. Here are some important ways you can make sleep come more easily. And if you really aren’t able to get enough sleep at night, don’t underestimate the value of a power nap!
Maintain Proper Nutrition
Many people aren’t aware of the extent to which this is true, but a poor diet can actually make you more vulnerable to stress! Ironically, stress (and the things in your life that cause it) can make it more difficult for you to maintain a healthy diet, which can contribute to more stress! If you’re too busy, you may find it more difficult to find time to cook healthy meals, and you may be more tempted to eat unhealthy ‘convenience’ foods, which can exacerbate stress. Being too busy can also create stress, and feeling stressed can make you crave unhealthy foods as well, contributing to a vicious cycle. While hectic schedules can make it harder to get proper nutrition, a poor diet is not inevitable!
Exercise can be great for you physically and mentally. It provides a stress release and keeps your body healthy. It also helps your body release endorphins, which increase your feelings of overall wellbeing. Read more on the positive effects of exercise, and find resources for getting started with an activity that suits you.
Maintain Social Support
Having the support of a good friend can help you to cope with just about anything. Social support can keep you healthier and happier, creating a buffer against stress. Friends can pick you up when you’re sad, provide insights when you’re confused, and help you have fun when you need to blow off steam. Learn how to cultivate supportive friendships and expand your social circle so you’ll have someone to lean on when stressed. (Don’t forget, it’s important to provide a supportive ear when your friends need it, too! Find out how to develop effective listening skills.)
Drawing is a great hobby that helps you to express your creativity and relieve stress. Having some down time is important, and hobbies can provide a nice distraction from stress and help you stay in the moment, which is also a great way to relieve tension. I recommend drawing and gardening as great stress relievers, but just about anything you enjoy can work.
Taking care of your body on the outside with a spa treatment, for example, can work wonders for your internal state. Don’t overlook the importance of pampering yourself on a regular basis, to feel great about yourself and feel ready to take on the world.
Keep Your Mind Sharp
If you maintain the attitude that stress is a challenge—rather than a threat, you are better able to handle it. And by keeping your mind sharp, you are more equipped to solve the problems and take on the “challenges” that life presents. Fortunately, games like The Stress Relief Memory Game, Affirmations Hangman, and The Inspirational Quote Daily Cryptogram can be fun to play, and also provide you the tools to manage stress in your life!
Have The Right Attitude
Much of what you experience in life can feel more stressful or less so depending of your point of view. Looking at things from an optimistic frame of mind can not only decrease your stress level, but bring you more success in life and more. You can become more of an optimist by following these tips. You can even change ingrained negative thought patterns to more positive ones by using positive affirmations.
Process Your Emotions
Keeping your emotions bottled up usually leads to an emotional explosion later on. It’s generally healthier to listen to your feelings, process them and try to understand them. Consider them messengers that tell you when something is not right with your world. A great way to process emotions is the act of journaling. When you write about your feelings, and potential solutions to your problems, you can reduce stress in your life and even see some health benefits!
Maintain a Spiritual Practice
Research shows that a lifestyle including religion or spirituality is generally a healthier lifestyle. Many people, especially seniors, use prayer as a major stress reliever and strategy for emotional health. You can use prayer to enhance your spiritual side, or use meditation of you don’t feel comfortable with prayer. Spiritual practice is deeply personal, and whatever your practice, it should nurture your soul.