by Joy Stone
Over the past 22 years, I’ve read hundreds of books on mind-body health. I’ve spent thousands of hours and thousands of dollars studying with some of the best yoga teachers, happiness educators, and spiritual leaders in the world today.
The one message they all have in common: Self-care is necessary for living a fulfilling, healthy, meaningful, and happy life.
Yet, when we’re stressed, self-care is usually the first thing we push aside—and our lives eventually suffer.
Insomnia, depression, anxiety, lethargy, digestive issues, communication difficulties, resentment, anger, craving, avoidance, loneliness, and relationship issues are among the many signs that we need self-care strategies—but, too often, we tend to ignore these symptoms and they become chronic.
Yet, with just a little willingness, and a few simple and sustainable choices, we can get to the cause of these issues. We can begin to heal our mind, body and heart—and discover how to bring our best self to any day, even the stressful ones!
Start with these five simple self-care strategies for stressful times.
1. Know Your Why
Instead of self-care becoming just one more thing you have to pack into your already busy schedule—make it meaningful. Make it powerful. Know why you do it. Know the benefits of doing it and what it’s costing you not to.
When we practice self-care, we’re working toward a larger purpose. We’re doing the one thing no one else can do for us.
Remember, in part, you’re committing to be your best self and take back control of your mind, body and life. You deserve some self-love.
My daily practice helps me to be a more in-the-moment and playful mom to my 4-year-old son. I’m a better coach/teacher to my clients. I am filled up to serve and help more people (which I know is my calling) and I have a LOT more energy.
2. Fill Your Own Tank First
Self care isn’t a luxury, it’s necessary. In our Western culture, we’re often encouraged to be rat-racers. We put our happiness off in some distant future after we reach our goals. But the problem is, another goal pops up and we miss out on the joy right here, right now. And this outlook creates a life in which we neglect ourselves in the moment, where life is actually happening.
Let go of the idea that it’s self-care is selfish. It’s actually the exact opposite! When we don’t take the time to fill our own tank first, we’re much more likely to be all we think about … We become distracted by our overwhelm, frustration and even resentment, which interferes with our ability to be fully engaged with life and our loved ones.
You wouldn’t go on a fun and adventurous road trip without filling your car up with gas. The same is true for your body and mind.
3. A Little Goes a Long Way
You don’t have to spend hours a day on self-care. A little goes a long way. Start by committing to just 10 or 15 minutes a day meditating, breathing, or journaling—or something else that feels nurturing to you and your soul.
For example, I get up one hour before my son so that I have quiet time to do my inspirational reading, journaling, and meditating. The key is to create a daily practice that you can sustain and really experience the benefits.
4. Create a Sacred Space
This is simple, but really makes any self-care strategy special. I use essential oils like peppermint, lavender, and lemon. You might play soothing music or light a candle.
It’s also helpful to find a space or place that is comfortable and calming. This can be as simple as a seat in your favorite room.
When the weather permits, I like to go outside and listen to the birds as I do my morning journaling and reading. Some people like to have one spot they practice all the time and this builds positive energy in that space.
These simple rituals will prompt your mind and body to prepare for the practice.
5. Schedule It
Put it on your calendar and commit to it for at least 21 consecutive days. Remember, keep it sustainable and you’ll be able to create this new habit with more ease.
Think about how you show up for everyone else. Imagine you are keeping a commitment to someone you would never let down.
Take advantage of that energy and quality to keep this commitment to yourself.
You can do this! I often teach my clients to build their calendars around their priorities, rather than trying to fit their priorities into their busy schedule.
Meditation is one of my favorite self-care practices. I’ve created a free five-part meditation seriesthat includes a short talk from me, followed by four guided breathing and visualization meditations—one for balancing the mind, two forgiveness meditations (one for self and one for others), and one loving-kindness meditation. Download it free here.
Joy Stone is a Positive Psychology Life Coach and a yoga teacher. She combines the yoga tradition with modern positive psychology to help people move beyond anxiety, fear, and overwhelm, without medication or traditional talk therapy, so they can move forward in life and thrive. Joy works with individuals and groups from all over the country via phone and Skype, and locally in the Nashville area. Find out more at joystonecoaching.com.