By: Lauren Wallen
It’s 2016 and we are more stressed out than ever. Whether it’s school or work, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with projects and assignments. A lot of the time we end up cutting out things like sleep, meals, exercise, and socialization to try and catch up on work; basically our self-care goes down the tubes and actually makes us more stressed out. It’s important to learn how to balance hard work with some self-care methods to help us regroup and reset.
For the Mind
- Make a to-do list. It can be overwhelming to contain everything you need to get done in your head, so invest in a notebook or planner and make lists of things you would like to get done for the day or week. It can also be super satisfying to cross items off your list and it helps make the day a little less stressful.
- Start a new (healthy) habit. Think of it like a New Year’s resolution, minus the new year. Want to floss more? Read more? Listen to new music? The choice is yours, but make a deliberate effort to follow through.
- Schedule leisure time. Binge that Netflix series you’ve been eyeing, or just take a nap. It’s important to make time for activities that will help lower our stress and boost our mood.
- Manage your social media. It seems petty, I know, but considering many of us spend a lot of time scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, it’s important to manage what information we are taking in. Unfollow that weird page that only posts click bait; unfriend that racist kid from high school; weed out the negative posts!
- Do a mini declutter. I am definitely someone who lets my room get hella messy when I’m stressed. Pick one thing in your house/apartment/room to clean or organize, whether that’s your desk, the bathroom, or even just making your bed.
For the Body
- Get on a regular sleep schedule. Let me say it louder for the people in the back: GET ON A REGULAR SLEEP SCHEDULE! In a perfect world, we’d all sleep for at least 8 hours a night. Life is hard and busy and it’s not always possible to go to bed at the same time or get as much sleep as we’d like, but making a conscious effort to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day will help regulate your body and make you feel alert and energized.
- Exercise. If you’re not into the running thing or going to the gym, there are some awesome alternatives out there. Maybe walk to work or school instead of driving, or take the stairs instead of the elevator. Look up a yoga or pilates routine on YouTube (which you can do in the privacy of your own home). Find something that is realistic for your abilities and time constraints.
- Breathe. I know, duh, but listen: oxygen is the best (free) natural medicine. Whether or not you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed, taking three deep breaths is energizing and the perfect way to reset.
- Take a nap. Remember when I told you to schedule leisure time? There are amazing apps out there for power naps that analyze your sleep cycle and wake you in your lightest stage of sleep, and some are even customizable to however much time you have to nap. You’ll never have to worry about waking up groggier than you started!
- Stand in a superhero pose for 2 minutes. This is something I’ve been told by my counselor that sounded super weird, but totally worked. If you stand in a position of power (shoulder width stance, hands on hips, chest up, head up), it increases your testosterone levels; you physically become more self-confident and aggressive.
For the Spirit
- Commit a small, random act of kindness. Compliment a stranger, hold the door for the person behind you, offer to help someone in need. It doesn’t have to be big but helping someone else almost always makes us feel better.
- Do something you’re good at. It’s important to remind ourselves of things we are good at and make the time to continually improve. It can often be relaxing and comforting to just remind ourselves that we are more than just slaves to our work.
- Ask for help. This can be scary and can feel like a defeat to turn to outside people for help, but there is nothing wrong with needing help. Chances are that your support system is a lot stronger than you may realize.
- Three good things. This is something that has been proven to improve people’s baseline moods. Before bed, write down three, specific, good things that happened to you during the day. This helps adjust our minds to focusing on the positive influences in our lives instead of the negative.
- Spend time with someone you care about. Significant other, best friend, mom, dad, brother, or sister, it doesn’t matter. Pick someone who is important to you and spend some quality time with them doing something you both enjoy.
This is by no means a complete list of ways to practice self-care, but it could be a great place to start. Find something in each category you would be willing and able to try, and don’t be afraid to experiment in order to find what works best for you.
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