Stress has a split personality. On the one hand, it can help you perform. It can get you motivated, and give you the inspiration that you need to accomplish a task. It gives you boost of energy and it keeps you on your toes, awake and alert.
But is also has a dark side. If you experience stress for extended periods it can overwhelm you. It can steal your sleep. It weakens your immune system and leaves you vulnerable for disease. Your body struggles to cope with the amount of cortisol that floods it, as a result of stress, and it can lead to high blood pressure, mood swings, anxiety and depression.
Practising self-care is one of the most important things to do, to counter the effects of too much stress. Unfortunately, self-care is also one of the first things to go when we are in survival mode.
I differentiate between “done-for-you” and “do-it-yourself” self-care. “Done-for-you” self-care is where you go for a pedi, mani, haircut, you buy yourself something nice or spoil yourself. “DIY” self-care is when you clean out your emotional closet by talking about the stuff that bothers you, when you shine a light on the fear and limiting beliefs that you have, and when reduce the volume of the noise inside your head.
Today, I want to tell you about 3 keys for practising DIY self-care.
You need to teach yourself to differentiate between the two sides of stress. This can be hard because the nature of too much stress causes you to be blind to its effects until it’s too late. So you need develop your awareness muscles, so that you know when you are entering into the dark side of stress.
Make a list of things you know you do when you’re stressed out, which you can then use as awareness triggers.
Here are some ideas:
- Anger responses that are totally out of proportion to the situation.
- Feelings of resentment towards people and events in your life.
- Feeling overwhelmed and not knowing what to do first.
- Developing tunnel vision where you are only focused on the thing that is occupying most of your time.
- Unable to sleep because you keep on playing the same thoughts over and over in your mind.
#2 Interrupt yourself
Next, you need to break your own pattern. As soon as you recognise the warning signs of dark stress, shift you focus. Choose do take a different action or think a different thought in the moment which will shift your direction.
Come up with at least 5 things you can do to take back control.
Some ideas are:
- Go for a walk
- Phone a friend
- Get a hug
- Talk about what is going on for you
- Take a nap
- Dance to your favourite music
- Do tapping
- Read a book
- Cry or shout for a bit and then move on
#3 Make self-care a habit
Practising self-care is both a habit and a mindset. If you normally practice self-care, it is easier to start doing it again when stress stops you. When you consciously decide on your priorities and what is important to you, it helps you to take better care of yourself.
Everybody has their own set of self-care rituals and practices that works best for them. You can figure out what yours is by making a list of things that make you feel good, motivated, rested and peaceful.
These are some of the things I like to do:
- Taking a power-nap
- Reading a crime thriller or fantasy novel
- Sitting in the garden and looking at flowers and butterflies
- Relaxing in a bubble bath
Decide on your Self-Care Practice Go To Guide. Write down your list and select at least 1 thing to do each day. (One of the easier ways to build new habits is by consistently doing it at the same time, every day.)
When you take care of yourself, you are better able to take care of the rest of your life.
What self-care practices do you have? And what do you do when you get stressed out? Let me know in the comments below.