Ahhh, stress. The bane of my existence (and it is often self-inflicted). As someone with an anxiety disorder, I am no stranger to the effects that stress can have on a person’s body, mind, and spirit. Stress will never be completely gone in life, but there are ways to deal with it better and since April is Stress Awareness Month I thought it about time I write a post on the importance of self-care.
The concept of self-care used to be foreign to me. During the past year however, one of the most difficult years of my life, I became acquainted with the concept and it has made a world of difference. My therapist introduced me to the concept and suggested I look up Dr. Kristen Neff’s work on the subject.
*Side Note: I cannot recommend seeking out a therapist enough. In the midst of health issues, career changes, and relationship upheaval it was one of the best things I could have done. But you don’t have to have some major “life issue” to go to therapy. I used to think if I went to therapy it meant something was “wrong with me” but it isn’t like that. Therapy is different for everyone but it doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you. It just means you care enough about yourself to improve your life and self. You are worth it.
So, back to Dr. Kristen Neff – a major advocate of self-care and pioneer of Self-Compassion. Watch her videos here. You won’t be sorry.
“Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?” – Dr. Kristen Neff
Since I was very young I was a perfectionist and very hard on myself. Self-Judgement is something I’ve dealt with for a long time in other words. And though I might outwardly brush off the criticisms of others, I’ve taken some things pretty hard. But over the past year I have tried to have more compassion for myself. When the horrible, “I’m not good enough, I’m a failure” thoughts start pouring in, I try to say, “wait a minute, would I talk this way to someone else?” Changing your thought process takes time, and it’s never perfect. And accepting that is part of the process too! : )
Dream bedroom from Zara Home… I wish!
Here are a few things I like to incorporate in my life to help reduce stress and create moments of self-care:
- Guided Meditations – I have a hard time meditating on my own which is why I LOVE the Insight Timer App. You can choose from tons of guided meditations on every subject and even see that other people in the world or in your area are mediating too!
- A bath with essential oils, candles, etc. Sometimes I even sit my laptop on a chair next to the tub and watch Netflix from the warm bath! Use those special bath salts, that sugar scrub, or a silky face mask. Luxuriate. Even if only for 10 or 15 minutes. Make those minutes count.
- My cats. Pet therapy is the best! Cuddle those fur babies and know that when you are, you are not supposed to be doing anything else in that moment.
- Get out and go for a walk.
- Stand in front of the mirror. Give yourself a genuine smile and say, ” I love you.” Then wink and walk away. This might sound narcissistic, but sometimes there’s no one else there to say it and you’re brain will appreciate it, trust me.
- Create your YOU space. Whether it is your bedroom, a corner of your shared space, or part of your living room, make it yours and practice using this space during self-care. For example, use your bedroom for a guided meditation before you go to sleep, but do not contaminate this sacred space by bringing your laptop to bed and working until Midnight (I’m so guilty of this).
- Reading. Reading of all kinds. But here are a few of my favorite self-help, feel good books: The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein, Miracles Now by Gabrielle Bernstein, Rise Sister Rise by Rebecca Campbell, Light is the New Black by Rebecca Campbell, Warrior Goddess Training by Heatherash Amara, Power Your Happy by Lisa Sugar, and Wabi Sabi the Japanese Arrt of Impermanence by Andrew Juniper.
- Release the resistance. Lay down on the floor, earth etc. where you can feel grounded. Take a big breath in and release. Witness where you are feeling resistance in your life (if you aren’t feeling good you are resisting somewhere) and then set it aside as you consider how you might see things differently. This is a little something I learned from Gabby Bernstein. Resistance happens when we put our attention on something we don’t want. If you are ill for example, focus on your wellness, not your illness. You might say something like, “I witness that I am resisting my desire to be __________, with thoughts like ___________, but I am willing to see it differently.”
*You may also be interested in EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique).
Now, I’m certainly not an expert at self-care. But I’m learning and trying, and hopefully this post can help someone out there who could use a little less stress ; ) Remember, you are beautiful, magical, and soooo worth it. xo – Naomi