Stress and Self-care

LettingGo

With the elections coming up, I have become more and more aware of the state of the world, or at least the state of these United States. Who would have ever though that Donald Trump with be a candidate in a presidential election with a possibility to win? Certainly not me. Just watching these debates and thinking about how much life could possible change if presidential hopeful Donald Trump is elected puts me in an area of fear and stress like no other. Which brings me to my point. In this fast paced rapid world that we live in stress has become a ritual. Being under stress has become as routine as taking a bath or brushing one’s teeth. I can’t tell you the amount of coffee consumed each day or the amount of cigarettes that are smoked each day in an effort to relieve stress. It is important that people understand that stress is just as deadly as any other disease. It is known as the silent killer. Stress will eat away at a person until there is nothing left. Too much of anything can lead to depression and stress is the number one culprit. Having to live with these levels of stress daily make it important to have the tools for self-care and stress management. Self-care includes any intentional action you take to care for your physical, mental and emotional health. We tend to only think about self-care when our body are telling us that it is tired, and even then we only focus on the physical. The truth is self-car should be a daily venture and has to very well-rounded in order to be effective. I found and article with some self-care tips that can be done daily in order to relieve stress. This list is below broken down into the three major areas of self-care; self-care for the mind, self-care for the body and self-care for the soul. The list can be viewed below.

Tiny Self-Care Ideas for the Mind

1. Start a compliments file. Document the great things people say about you to read later.
2. Scratch off a lurker on your to-do list, something that’s been there for ages and you’ll never do.
3. Change up the way you make decisions. Decide something with your heart if you usually use your head. Or if you tend to go with your heart, decide with your head.
4. Go cloud-watching. Lie on your back, relax, and watch the sky.
5. Take another route to work. Mixing up your routine in small ways creates new neural pathways in the brain to keep it healthy.
6. Pay complete attention to something you usually do on autopilot, perhaps brushing your teeth, driving, eating, or performing your morning routine.
7. Goof around for a bit. Schedule in five minutes of “play” (non-directed activity) several times throughout your day.
8. Create a deliberate habit, and routinize something small in your life by doing it in the same way each day—what you wear on Tuesdays, or picking up the dental floss before you brush.
9. Fix a small annoyance at home that’s been nagging you—a button lost, a drawer that’s stuck, a light bulb that’s gone.
10. Punctuate your day with a mini-meditation with one minute of awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations; one minute of focused attention on breathing; and one minute of awareness of the body as a whole.
11. Be selfish. Do one thing today just because it makes you happy.
12. Do a mini-declutter. Recycle three things from your wardrobe that you don’t love or regularly wear.
13. Unplug for an hour. Switch everything to airplane mode and free yourself from the constant bings of social media and email.
14. Get out of your comfort zone, even if it’s just talking to a stranger at the bus stop.
15. Edit your social media feeds, and take out any negative people. You can just “mute” them; you don’t have to delete them.

Tiny Self-Care Ideas for the Body

1. Give your body ten minutes of mindful attention. Use the body scan technique to check in with each part of your body.
2. Oxygenate by taking three deep breaths. Breathe into your abdomen, and let the air puff out your stomach and chest.
3. Get down and boogie. Put on your favorite upbeat record and shake your booty.
4. Stretch out the kinks. If you’re at work, you can always head to the bathroom to avoid strange looks.
5. Run (or walk, depending on your current physical health) for a few minutes. Or go up and down the stairs three times.
6. Narrow your food choices. Pick two healthy breakfasts, lunches, and dinners and rotate for the week.
7. Activate your self-soothing system. Stroke your own arm, or if that feels too weird, moisturize.
8. Get to know yourself intimately. Look lovingly and without judgment at yourself naked. (Use a mirror to make sure you get to know all of you!)
9. Make one small change to your diet for the week. Drink an extra glass of water each day, or have an extra portion of veggies each meal.
10. Give your body a treat. Pick something from your wardrobe that feels great next to your skin.
11. Be still. Sit somewhere green, and be quiet for a few minutes.
12. Get fifteen minutes of sun, especially if you’re in a cold climate. (Use sunscreen if appropriate.)
13. Inhale an upbeat smell. Try peppermint to suppress food cravings and boost mood and motivation.
14. Have a good laugh. Read a couple of comic strips that you enjoy.
15. Take a quick nap. Ten to twenty minutes can reduce your sleep debt and leave you ready for action.

Tiny Self-Care Ideas for the Soul

1. Imagine you’re your best friend. If you were, what would you tell yourself right now? Look in the mirror and say it.
2. Use your commute for a “Beauty Scavenger Hunt.” Find five unexpected beautiful things on your way to work
3. Help someone. Carry a bag, open a door, or pick up an extra carton of milk for a neighbor.
4. Check in with your emotions. Sit quietly and just name without judgment what you’re feeling.
5. Write out your thoughts. Go for fifteen minutes on anything bothering you. Then let it go as you burn or bin the paper.
6. Choose who you spend your time with today. Hang out with “Radiators” who emit enthusiasm and positivity, and not “Drains” whose pessimism and negativity robs energy.
7. Stroke a pet. If you don’t have one, go to the park and find one.
8. Get positive feedback. Ask three good friends to tell you what they love about you.
9. Make a small connection. Have a few sentences of conversation with someone in customer service such as a sales assistant or barista.
10. Splurge a little. Buy a small luxury as a way of valuing yourself.
11. Have a self-date. Spend an hour alone doing something that nourishes you (reading, your hobby, visiting a museum or gallery, etc.)
12. Exercise a signature strength. Think about what you’re good at, and find an opportunity for it today.
13. Take a home spa. Have a long bath or shower, sit around in your bathrobe, and read magazines.
14. Ask for help—big or small, but reach out.
15. Plan a two-day holiday for next weekend. Turn off your phone, tell people you’ll be away, and then do something new in your own town.

Bard, E. (2015). 45 Simple Self-Care Practices for a Healthy Mind, Body, and Soul. Retrieved 2016, from http://tinybuddha.com/blog/45-simple-self-care-practices-for-a-healthy-mind-body-and-soul/

Self-Care for Parents

Self-Care for Parents

Parents are professional care-takers of their children but often fail at taking care of themselves.  Some parents even feel guilty if they spend any time honoring their own desires and passions.  They may spend all their energy investing in their children’s passions and interests even at the expense of their own well-being.  The truth of the matter is a child’s well-being is directly related to a parent’s own well-being.  If parents take time for themselves — to refuel, to seek out their own passions and desires, to meet their own needs — their capacity to connect and take care of their children will be maximized.  By taking time for themselves, they not only model for their children the value of self-care but will be re-energized to  give their best to their children.

Look back at your list of dreams and wishes today and give yourself permission to do something just for you.

Watch Your Mouth

Watch Your MouthOne of my favorite things Jesus ever said was, “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34). Now, whether you find yourself leaning towards the camp of Christianity or more towards thinking “the Bible… Psssssh” you have to admit that what He said does make a good deal of sense. Seriously, think about it. The premise behind His remark is that our speech is motivated by something internal. Have you ever told someone, “I wish you would think before you speak”? Have you ever been told that? Of course the answer to both is yes, and sometimes we have moments brilliance where we do pause to reflect on what impact our words will have in the moment. However, those times where we just say something or respond instinctually to a given situation with our mouth… that speech is not random… it comes from somewhere.

The question then becomes, “If the words that come out of our mouth have an origin, what then produces them?” The short answer to this question is our character drives our vocal responses. Earlier in that Matthew 12 passage Jesus uses the fruit analogy in that trees produce specific fruit (good tree good fruit, bad tree bad fruit). Basically, if our natural response to situations is to say something negative, bitter, hurtful, or the like I am not going to say in a “matter-of-fact” sort of a way that is who we are, but maybe those tendencies are there in us. On the flip side, if our responses are filled with optimism, hope, encouragement, and the like then perhaps our character has been shaped to reflect such.

The overall challenge of this post is to take some time for internal perspective. Our thoughts and our attitudes are most assuredly reflected in our speech. Are we happy with the way we talk to, about, and around people? All of us could us improvement (especially me), and so what I am not saying is the answer is simply “if you don’t have anything nice to say blah, blah, blah.” What I am saying is that improvement starts with us changing our character, and then our mouth will follow suit.