Good morning and Happy Monday everyone! I hope everyone’s weekends were restful and you’re prepared for the coming week. Mondays can be stressful! I get it. I have always dreaded Mondays. Especially if I didn’t take the time during the weekend to get some good quality rest and relaxation in!

I was recently told I don’t know what stress is. I mean, what is stress anyways? Stress is something in your life that causes strain or tension. When this person said I didn’t know what stress is, it originally made me frustrated. Frustrated because even if this person was just trying to keep things light-hearted, it was upsetting because they weren’t considering the different parts of my life that I don’t share with the world that do cause me stress. And that’s the thing, isn’t it? Stress looks different for everyone and it weighs on you differently. The things in my life that cause me the greatest stress may not affect you, and vice versa. However, everyone has stress. We are human and therefore we have things in our lives that cause us strain or tension. So I wanted to put together some ideas that I’ve come up with for myself and for my clients over the past few years to help make the stress bearable. This isn’t to say that these tips will necessarily SOLVE your problems, but they may just make it easier to face the problems and deal with them. So let’s roll right in, shall we?

Be in Nature

We are a part of the natural world, so it’s only natural that we can feel a sense of calm when we step away from our screens and concrete jungles, and take even just half an hour to walk or sit in nature. And if you live nowhere near a forest, mountain or field, that’s okay! Walk to your nearest park or greenspace, take off your shoes (if it’s nice enough out), and sit and listen. Listen to the sounds around you. Do you hear birds? Wind? Leaves in the trees rustling as the wind passes through? It’s okay to let your mind wander while you listen. When it’s sunny out, I like to lay down in the grass and feel the blades of grass tickle my skin while I listen to my breathing. If there are clouds in the sky, I watch them pass. And I contemplate.

Get Ready as if you’re Going Out

This one applies for all of you homebodies out there. If you’ve been lounging around the house for the last several days in your sweats and hoodie, you may be feeling down. I know how this can feel and for me it feels stifling. Taking a shower, getting dressed up, doing my hair and a little makeup (even if I don’t have any intention of leaving the house) sometimes just makes me feel human again. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, your physical and mental health are intertwined, so good hygiene can play into our emotional health as well.

Call (Insert Name here)

I hope you are reading this before things become unbearable. Because if so, I want you to think about who you would call in a situation where you feel your stress has become unbearable. We’re making a plan now so you know what to do if/when it does. So, for me, I know when the stress is too much for me, I call my husband. If he doesn’t answer, I call my mom. And if she doesn’t answer I call my grandma. This is my list. One of those three people will answer. I know it. This list is going to look different for you. But make your list. List three people right now in the order that you would call them. Save that list on your whiteboard, in a notebook or in your head (if you’ll remember it) and if things get to be too much, look at that list and use it.

There have been times that I have met with a client that tells me they literally have no one they can call. No one they can trust to talk to about their problems. So what I’ve done with them is make this list with community supports instead of friends and/or family. If you are in a similar situation, please google the phone numbers for the community supports in your area. Maybe it’s Mental Health and Addictions. Maybe there is a Crisis Hotline you can utilize. The important part I want to emphasize is to make sure you have this list of people on hand before you’ve hit a crisis.

Exercise

This one seems so cliche, doesn’t it? But exercise takes your mind off the racing thoughts for 15, 30, 60, 90 minutes that you exercise. And it doesn’t have to be a specific kind of exercise. Do what it is you love and/or have the capability to do.

Let’s look at some examples: kickboxing, running, walking, dancing (Popsugar fitness has some amazing fitness videos available on YouTube), yoga, jujitsu, boxing, body groove, lift weights, bodyweight exercises, HIIT. Does anything on this list interest you?

And guess what? Exercise is going to be good for your mind and your body. Double whammy!

Listen to Guided Meditation/Music

Have you ever tried Guided Meditation? You can find a lot of really great meditation sessions of varying lengths (from 1 minute all the way up to an hour if you want) in Apple or Android podcasts. They’re totally free and are easy to access. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it! Meditation is so hard to do if you have no experience to do it. That’s why Guided Meditation is so helpful! It literally guides you through your meditation session.

If you have tried meditation and it wasn’t for you, listen to your favourite music. I have a playlist that I created that starts off with really slow, lyrical music, which transitions to more upbeat music near the end. For me this playlist gives me permission to feel sad for a while, but eventually encourages me to feel calm, at peace, and happy.

Talk to a Professional

Therapy has been a lifesaver for me over the years. There’s nothing shameful about it. Sometimes there are things you don’t want to share with your family or things that you’ve shared with them and they just don’t seem to understand. That’s where therapists come in. They are professional listeners with the benefit of actually knowing tested techniques to help you get through whatever problem it is you have. One such technique that was shared with me was called a “grounding practice”. When you notice your thoughts “spinning” (as in you’re replaying the same thought over and over in your mind), take a few minutes and look around you. Say out loud what you’re looking at: I see a desk. On that desk is a lamp. That lamp has wooden bird carvings on it. And so on and so forth. Then say out loud the different sensations of your body: my right foot is asleep. It feels tingly and somewhat painful. I am tapping my foot on the floor to try and wake it up. The floor feels cool. It feels smooth. And so on and so forth.

Listen, I’ve heard the excuses before: “I tried therapy before and my therapist sucked”, “therapists don’t get it”, “they’ve never had to live my life so they wouldn’t understand”. The problem is you don’t know anything about these therapists because they don’t share their personal life or past struggles with you. So don’t ever assume they don’t get it. And sometimes therapists do suck. Or you don’t connect or “click” with them. But there are LOADS of them out there. If you have one you don’t like, find a new one. Shop around. Trust me, when you find one you like, you’ll never look back! This is someone who will never be annoyed or hurt by what you say. And they won’t turn around and tell the whole world.

Create!

Get a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. Create something. A poem, a short story, a doodle. Who cares if you aren’t a writer or an artist? There’s no law that says you have to show your work to anyone. It’s not about that. It’s about distracting your mind from whatever it is that’s weighing it down. And when we create something, a different part of our brain lights up and we can’t focus on the thing that we were stressing out about. So even if you want to shred or burn the thing afterwards, go ahead and create something for yourself!

I’ve always loved to write. I would write stories, poems, random words. I would write about my day and then rip it up later. That’s ultimately why I started this blog, too!


So there you have it – some nifty ideas to try out to de-stress or to keep yourself sane.

I do want to make one final note: A lot of people will tell you that sitting down with a glass of wine or a can of beer, or a cigarette are great to de-stress. The problem with that is you don’t want to become dependent on a substance (especially one that is highly addictive and terrible for your body) to manage stress. It’s so easy to begin using it as a way to escape, rather than to deal. So please, be creative when trying to de-stress and avoid any substances when trying to destress.

I hope this list helped! Do you have any Self-Care tips you use that you want to share? Let me know in the comments!

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Ciao for now!

Posted by:Prairie Chick

Wife and a mother to two children living in the Canadian prairies. In constant pursuit of mental and physical health through diet, exercise and self-care.

12 replies on “7 Self-Care Tips for when you’re Stressed

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