You are at work…and it is crazy busy. Important meetings to attend, looming deadlines, loads of paperwork, emails to read and act on. The list is endless, and your calendar is jam-packed with tasks and events. Time at home doesn’t look so rosy either – kids need to be ferried to activities, dinner needs to show up on the table, and aging parents need attention.
So, how do you react and how do you make room for all these things? If you are a typical person that this blog post is addressed to, you overwork, cancel your yoga class, work late into the night, cut back on family time, lose your cool at the slightest provocation, and maybe even skip a few meals.
To keep up with this roadrunner form of living, one of the first things we do is to put self-care on the back burner. More often than not, it takes a wake-up call – likely a serious health issue – to notice the toll this kind of lifestyle takes on our lives.
As indulgent or fancy as the term may sound, self-care is critical for our physical, emotional and mental well-being. Why? It is because the mind and body are intrinsically connected. When one suffers, the other follows suit. Likewise, when you are proactive in caring for yourself, your effort is beneficial to both your mental and physical health. All those little things you do to keep your body healthy — exercising, eating a wholesome diet, getting enough sleep — also help to keep your mind fit as well.
This is important to remember when it comes to self-care. There are many self-care practices a person can do that focus specifically on caring for the mind and soul — not just the physical body. And it’s important to incorporate these practices into your lifestyle as a means of caring for your mental health. Here are some ways to do that.
The truth is, we need a certain amount of stress in our life. Eustress is a driving force that helps us reach our goals and overcome challenges and keeps us healthy and happy. But if your life is full of chronic stress, you risk becoming psychologically and emotionally drained. You can’t control life in a manner that will eliminate this type of stress altogether — but you can manage it.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, the first thing you must do is determine why. Identifying the source of stress takes away its power over you. Consider your coping strategies. What healthy choices can you make to reduce the stress you’re feeling? Mindful breathing is one of the most effective ways to lower everyday stress levels. If you can, get moving. Go on a walk outside and let the endorphins and fresh air relieve the tension you’re experiencing. However, if you’re tired, feel free to get some sleep and let your body recover through rest. Take care of your body with nourishing foods that support your well-being. Never underestimate the power of positivity and smiling. Finally, don’t be afraid to say no to things when you feel overwhelmed. Your time is your own, and you have the freedom to use it as you want.
Read our blog Stress – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly here.
The conveniences of modern life make many things easier. However, they also encourage us to move at an increasingly faster pace. It’s important to take the time to slow down every so often. As fast-paced modern society is, your life is a short blip on the cosmic scale. You have to savor it and enjoy the blessings you have, while you can. When you slow down, you are able to act from a place of love. You are better able to listen to your intuition and build self-esteem. Slowing down means not taking your life for granted. When this becomes a habit, it makes you better at accepting your life as it is, which makes you feel more grateful and fulfilled overall.
Slowing down can mean different things to different people. It could be stopping and taking a breath on a street corner or sitting on a park bench observing the people walking by. It can be a formal meditation practice. It could be meeting a good friend to enjoy a stroll or a cup of coffee together. It could be lying on your back and watching the clouds float past. It could be heading to the local library and browsing through books. It could be making eye contact with people you meet. Don’t allow yourself to get caught in the trap that it has to be this big, mega production. Instead, sink into just slowing…down…
Self-care doesn’t always have to be so, well, selfish. One of the best ways to tend to your own soul is through an act of goodwill. Studies show that helping others makes you feel happier. Helping others builds a stronger community and increases your social connections. It enables you to grow into a more resilient person as you work on adapting to stress and adversity. Best of all, helping others gives you the opportunity to create a sense of meaning in your life.
Our own self-care is an essential component of being able to help others. If we are become exhausted and depleted ourselves, we will have less to offer someone else. Over time, this could turn into “compassion fatigue,” – symptoms that can affect our health, emotions, thoughts, relationships, behaviors, and even how we feel about the world in general.
Helping roles in any capacity – as a volunteer, a paid professional or even as a family member – are most successful for the recipient and for us if we have good coping skills and if we actively address our own needs to “refill” our storehouse of energy.
Self-care is an essential aspect of nurturing your mental health. While many of the physical self-care practices we do also benefit the mind and soul, it’s important to incorporate practices that focus primarily on mental well-being. Stress can really take its toll and leave you psychologically and emotionally drained. Take actions to reduce stress, such as identifying the source and utilizing healthy coping methods. Slow down and enjoy your life. While we may move faster in this modern era, your time on earth is actually really short in the grand scheme of things. Finally, feed your soul with acts of goodwill. Helping others makes you a happier person, while creating a deeper sense of meaning in your life.
Brad Krause graduated from college in 2010 and went straight to the corporate world at the headquarters of a popular retail company. But what started as a dream job soured quickly. After four years of working 15-hour days and neglecting his health, he decided enough was enough. Through aiding a friend during a tough time, Brad discovered his real calling-helping people implement self-care practices that improve their overall well being. He created SelfCaring.info to share his own knowledge and the many great resources he finds on his self-care journey.