Did you know that 8 out of 10 Americans report feeling stressed every day? That level of consistent stress can cause many physical conditions, like high blood pressure, fertility issues, obesity, heart attack and stroke— and that’s just our bodies. When it comes to our minds— our mental health — stress can lead to depression, anxiety, insomnia and low self-esteem.
So what can you do to make your mental and physical well-being a priority? How can we better manage the stress that seems so ingrained in our culture?
Self-care is a simple concept with big results. Self-care shouldn’t be seen as being selfish, it’s about taking care of yourself so you can take better care of those around you. If you don’t make your health and well-being a priority, from getting good sleep to eating healthy meals, your ability to manage your other responsibilities will suffer. When you feel your grasp on self-care slipping, explore these four ideas to refill your cup and stave off burnout.
Clear Out the Clutter
When you live in a cluttered environment, it’s no surprise you can also feel overwhelmed. Piles of clutter can make it hard to get motivated to pursue your goals for the day. Studies show that a clean, minimalistic space leads to a soothing, serene state of mind. In addition to feeling more relaxed, eliminating clutter makes you more productive, which improves confidence and self-reliance by rewarding you with a positive sense of accomplishment. Start with one room by throwing out or donating items you no longer use and creating storage solutions that keep your counters free and clear.
Even as little as five minutes of daily meditation can make a huge dent in stress. From a 20-minute seated meditation every morning to five minutes of deep breathing throughout the day, meditation can calm the inner chaos and boost your willpower. It gives you a chance to let go of the little stressors that can pile up, so you can lower your heart rate and blood pressure. For example, when you are frustrated, close your eyes and take several long, deep breaths. In many cases, you’ll feel a bit better almost immediately, and progressively calmer the longer and deeper you breathe.
Schedule 15 minutes of R&R
Your schedule is packed already, but chances are you can carve out 15-30 minutes a day of uninterrupted relaxation time. It doesn’t have to be complicated; relaxation can be as simple as reading a book in the evening, taking your dog for a walk in the morning or soaking in a warm bath before bed. Relaxation breaks can not only help your mind release thoughts that get you worked up, but also permit your body to release the tension that arises when you’re stressed out. Self-care can also be boosted by prioritizing longer relaxing activities such as getting a massage or taking a restorative yoga class.
It’s hard to say no sometimes. But a big part of self-care is acknowledging the fact that when we are overbooked and overburdened, the quality of our work decreases. If you say yes to every request, you’ll fall behind on deadlines, forget important details and submit subpar results. This doesn’t just apply to work. This can be true for your commitments to family, friends and even yourself. When your plate is full, give yourself permission to say no or, at the very least, not right now.
Self-care is often the first sacrifice we make when our to-do lists become overwhelming. But research shows that it’s simply not sustainable— and it is taking a major toll on our mental and physical health. Carve out 15-30 minutes a day for self-care, and you’ll be able to prioritize the things that are really important, empowering you to take better care of yourself and others.
Visit Brad’s Self-Caring website here!