What types of self-care are best for stress relief?
Do not buy into the idea that you are selfish because you take time to exercise, rest and relax as needed. Downtime is the key to a happy and productive life. If your current financial situation demands that you work two jobs, it is even more important that you have ways to care for yourself, relax and decompress.
One of the things that happens when we have too much going on in life is that our stress levels increase but we never find the time to offload that stress. Self-care is essential, especially in this busy tech-driven world that we can get so caught up in that we never find a moment for ourselves.
So many people make a big deal out of cardio and as a result, there’s too much buildup which makes them just avoid doing it altogether. You do not need to commit to a gym membership or purchase expensive workout equipment and exercise clothes to get some cardio in. Just throw on an old pair of jeans and a sweatshirt and run around the block a few times. Put on music that you love and dance around. Get a jump rope and do some jumping jacks. Jog in place or find a good exercise tape to follow along with and work up a sweat in the comfort and privacy of home.
How much cardio can help you relieve stress? A brisk walk will raise your heart rate, and a slow jog will help shake the tension out of your body. Aim for one or the other of these at least three days a week. You won’t believe how much better you feel, how quickly your sleep improves, and how less stressed you become.
Stretching works amazingly to rid your body of stress. We talked about how tension accumulates in the muscles. If you’re unsure of how to start a stretching routine, go research some easy yoga poses on Youtube. Get the basics down. Flow through a stress-relieving evening asana before settling down to bed. Your sleep will improve greatly and in fact, you won’t quite believe what’s happening to your body, as stress leaves and makes room for vibrant health.
Refuel with healthy protein
If you live a fast-paced life then you probably tend to grab sustenance on the go. Lunch could be anything from a greasy slice of pizza to a sugar-covered doughnut (most people don’t even know that donuts are fried in oil which makes them extra fattening and bad for you).
While these foods might initially make you feel good after eating them, the lack of nutritional value takes its toll. You may find yourself stuck in a vicious cycle of feeling stressed and foul-tempered and needing a quick fix, followed by a slump in energy levels… then the cycle repeats itself.
Instead of reaching for that high-carb or high-fat snack or meal, choose a healthy protein. Protein keeps your blood sugar on an even keel which will help you to feel less stressed. Did you know that protein feeds the muscles which is very important, especially if you lead a high-stress lifestyle?
Try pairing a healthy protein with a complex carb. Complex carbs digest more slowly because they contain fiber. This could be a snack like whole-grain crackers and natural peanut butter, apple slices and a couple of cheese cubes, trail mix with a variety of nuts and fruits, carrot sticks, and a healthy yogurt-based dip.
Sleep studies have been conducted revealing that even something like a 15-minute catnap has an incredibly positive effect on cognitive function. Even people who were sleep-deprived from the prior night experienced dramatic improvement in their cognitive function after a short nap.
Power naps work because they allow the body to slow down and take a rest so the nervous system can reset itself. If you can’t manage to get some actual shut-eye, at the very least give your mind and body a break by taking some time away. Reduce sensory input. Close your eyes, and allow yourself some slow and relaxed breaths while you assume a resting position.
Want to take your rest to the next level? Meditation is a known self-care act that works to relieve stress. You don’t need to attend an expensive meditation class or always follow along with an instructor. Try to meditate by focusing on one simple thought in your mind. If you can slip away to a dimly lit, quiet space by yourself, you can light a candle and meditate while gazing at the flickering flame and focusing on stilling your mind.
Again, self-care is necessary if we are to restore balance to our lives and ease the stress that builds up over the course of our busy day. Do not let anyone tell you that you are not worthy or deserving of self-care. Do not let anyone convince you that taking a short nap is an act of laziness, assuming that your day is otherwise filled with productive moments. Often, a short break can actually help us become twice as productive as we were before.
Whatever self-care you may need, give yourself the gift of personal attention, a rest, time away from responsibilities, and a break from the constant stimulation of your phone with all of its alerts and updates.