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How to manage your stress through self-care

Let’s talk about self-care and why it matters.

It matters for so many reasons. But it’s important to me to tell you more about it today because this is something I often notice with my clients when there is a lot of stress and a feeling of being overwhelmed.

I sometimes ask about self-care in a more or less direct way. And often, the answer is often the same. When there is stress and a feeling of overwhelming, there is a lack of self-care, if none at all.

That’s me going straight to the point. Now you know why self-care is important.

The benefits of practicing self-care

The one I noticed is that self-care helps you reduce your stress and balance your emotions.

Generally, and from my personal experience, when you practice something for yourself, no matter what you want to call it, it’s an act of self-care.

When you take time for yourself, you’re sending a clear message to your subconscious, that you matter. And this is powerful.

The problem with self-care, and any routine in general, is that it comes and goes. We may stick to a certain habit for a few weeks until something gets in the way, and the habit goes away.

Self-care routines are not set in stone

Speaking about my own experience, as you may know, in the past few weeks months, it has been a bit chaotic because I changed countries and lived in different places. So my routine was close to zero and almost disappeared.

Now that everything is falling into place, I can address this area of my life again. And I can address it because I’ve also noticed that there’s something missing. There’s always something missing, but at least I can act on this area of my life.

So what I did is that I sat with myself with a pen and paper and I had a closer look at what I do on a daily basis, without judgment.

Reviewing your own habits and routines

Although I already knew what lifts me up and what weighs me down, I also listed what I used to do, and used to bring me joy. Meditation is the only practice I’ve managed to maintain and I’m so grateful for it because this has been my anchor.

You may already have something like that, something that you do on a daily basis, whether you’re aware of it or not, that is anchoring a certain state of mind.

Listing what lifts you up

So listing all those things, I realised that I stopped moving my body. I used to walk to the office and that was a 30-minute walk. Sometimes I walked back, so some days, I would easily walk an hour. And I loved it. Today, because of where I’m living and now getting a car. I’m not moving my body enough. It was a gradual change and now I realise how much I miss it.

There are other activities that are not part of my daily routine but that I do on and off. They are in my toolbox and I use them depending on what I want to achieve. Journaling is one of these tools.

Listing what doesn’t serve you

Now moving to the activities that weighed me down, and I keep fighting with myself moving away from it.

Falling asleep with meditation or an interview on YouTube. I don’t watch television, but I watch/listen to YouTube. And I usually do it either when I can’t fall asleep, or when I go to sleep early, and I want to treat myself to listening to an inspiring interview or podcast.

This habit weights me down because usually, at some point, there is an advertisement or the level of the conversation changes, and it wakes me up. Falling back asleep is not easy, so it’s a kiss call effect.

Another bad habit that comes in phases is not eating enough fresh food. This has an effect I can notice after only two or three days. It really impacts my mood and my thoughts.

Of course, it’s okay to eat some comfort food. I’m not sharing this to tell you what you should eat or not eat. It’s personal, althought there are studies that have shown that some foods can trigger or lift your mood up. I also wrote a blog article a while ago about it.

You may want to try it out for yourself and see what happens.

Another one and these are part of the habits I managed to harness if I would say so.

Maintaining self-care habits is challenging

It’s always a push and pulls and it’s difficult to find balance. The more I think about it, the more I think there is really no such thing as balance because it’s always on the edge. And it comes with a certain awareness and effort. So it’s always either a bit too much or too little but having a perfect balance, at least for myself is really a challenge.

Drinking enough water is one of these examples. It’s been my other challenge lately, together with drinking too much coffee, so I switched to decaf.

That’s it for the things that are part of my self-care routine, some are good and contribute to my self-care routine, while others are playing against it. Just as I said, with balance, routines, and habit changes, nothing is fixed.

Life circumstances affect your habits, your needs and your priorities. So don’t blame yourself for not sticking to a routine or habit, I myself plead guilty. But I’m sure we can do this.

It’s really evolving. I don’t think we are meant to have routines that are the same over and over for 10 years. Life would be boring. Plus, it would mean that you’re not growing, you’re not changing. And that could be also suspicious.

Self-care is an everyday decision

Speaking about self-care in general: self-care is a daily practice. You could see it as a choice in everything you do, every single day. Just like my example with drinking coffee.

If I know that drinking coffee, too much coffee, triggers my anxiety or amplifies my anxiety, then choosing real coffee is not an act of self-care. It’s an act of pleasure, that it comes with consequences.

When we think about self-care, usually we have the image of luxury bath, skincare, me time. And it’s true, it’s part of it. But self-care also goes back to taking care of yourself. That’s just what it is.

And you can take care of yourself in so many ways. You can take care of your physical body, as I mentioned earlier, moving your body to eat food that your body needs, but also taking care of your emotions.

Managing your stress and emotions is a self-care practice

How do you regulate your emotions? How do you balance them? There are many tools out there, I mentioned a few, either on my podcast or on Instagram, and also do it with my clients, you can use those tools to regulate your emotions and trigger the relaxation response.

For example, meditation can be seen as a way to take care of your spiritual self. But if you are not into spirituality, and if you practice meditation, that’s also a way to regulate your emotions.

Journaling is another one to reduce your stress and your emotions by writing down your worries, for example. So give yourself some time to be with yourself and do what’s good for you.

You may see or look at self-care as something very selfish, because you may think you don’t have time for this. It’s not.

If what you need, for example, is to spend time with your loved ones because this is exactly what lifts you up at a certain time of your day, then please do it.

Self-care doesn’t have to be something that you do on your own and you have to feel guilty about. This is also a very important thing. Don’t feel guilty about taking care of yourself. I probably mentioned it before, but you can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself first.

Your loved ones, your friends and your family want you to be energised and happy and laughing. Because this is just an energy that everyone wants to benefit from and wants to be around.

So please, by all means, prioritise yourself.

I shouldn’t give you specific orders or advice, but I highly recommend it.

Self-care coaching prompt

I will just finish this article by prompting you: the famous next step in coaching. Using the example I mentioned, in this article, you could sit with yourself, and review what you do in a day, whether it’s a habit or not a habit, because it can also take different forms.

List what makes you feel good in general, list what you’re currently doing that makes you feel good, and you’d like to keep.

Basically, what you’d like to integrate and what you’d like to keep in your life. Then, list what weights you down, what you’d like to remove and move away from in your life.

As often, don’t try to do it all at once. Don’t try to do it perfectly either. Start to be aware and from this awareness, just pick maybe one activity, one thing that you do or you want to do, and try to introduce it into your life without any pressure.

There’s enough pressure like this in your life, I’m sure. Be kind to yourself, because this is also what self-care is about.

I mentioned taking care of our body, our emotions, and our thoughts. But there is also the way you speak to yourself. Pay attention to your thoughts and how you speak to yourself, your inner-critic. This is also on its own an act of self-care.

I hope there are some insights you can take away and start applying to your own life.

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