Often times, keeping up with the daily demands of work, home and loved ones can contribute to increased stress. Like laughter, devoting time just to yourself is a good way to relax and rejuvenate. Taking a few minutes each day to make yourself a priority is a great strategy to manage stress.
Use this time to do something you enjoy—read a book, go for a walk, spend time with friends or family, daydream, listen to your favorite music or some other activity that is special to you.
- Mix it up! Variety is the spice of life.
- Simplify — look for simple pleasures that don’t require a lot of preparation or money.
- Taking as little as 5 minutes for yourself to unwind each day can make a difference.
Make yourself a priority (Click each item to find out how)
It takes courage and bravery to look within oneself. The first step to making yourself a priority is to understand the underlying reasons why you don’t.
- Are you too busy?
- Do everyone else’s needs come first?
- Do you have to make sure you get your full to-do list checked off before you can relax?
- Is there an underlying emotion that comes up at the idea of self-care such as guilt or selfishness?
Once you understand why you’re not making yourself a priority, you can work with it. Next time you really need some rest, self-care, or alone time, simply notice the thought or feeling coming up.
Notice the way it feels in your body and simply be with this feeling as you gently let go of the story you’re telling yourself in your head. Stay with it and notice as it dissipates.
When stress makes you feel bad, do something that makes you feel good. Doing things you enjoy is a natural way to fight off stress.
You don’t have to do a lot to find pleasure. Even if you’re ill or down, you can find pleasure in simple things such as going for a drive, chatting with a friend or reading a good book.
Try to do at least one thing every day that you enjoy, even if you only do it for 5 minutes. Such as:
- Start an art project (oil paint, sketch, create a scrap book or finger paint with children/grandchildren).
- Take up a hobby, new or old.
- Read a favorite book, short story, magazine or newspaper.
- Have coffee or a meal with friends.
- Play golf, tennis, ping-pong or bowl.
- Sew, knit or crochet.
- Listen to music during or after you practice relaxation.
- Take a nature walk — listen to the birds, identify trees and flowers.
- Make a list of everything you still want to do in life.
- Watch an old movie on TV or rent a video.
- Play cards or board games with family and friends.
Rituals help us to stay grounded, balanced, and calm in an ever-changing and busy world. If you feel rundown, or stress is starting to affect you physically, pull back and assess. Are you putting yourself first? Are you building strength or avoiding pain? What’s one thing you can do today to take better care of yourself?
The key with ritual is to start simply and slowly add on. Here are just a couple ideas to incorporate into your day:
- A cup of coffee/tea with some quiet when you wake up.
- Stretching at night.
- 10 minute walk on lunch break.
- A daily planning sheet before diving into work.
- Turn phone on airplane mode around 5:30 pm to start dinner and welcome your family home.
- Yoga class every Monday.
- Beyond a take-charge approach and a positive attitude, you can reduce stress in your life by carving out “me” time. Don’t get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that you forget to take care of your own needs. Nurturing yourself is a necessity, not a luxury. If you regularly make time for fun and relaxation, you’ll be in a better place to handle life’s stressors.
- Set aside leisure time. Include rest and relaxation in your daily schedule. Don’t allow other obligations to encroach. This is your time to take a break from all responsibilities and recharge your batteries.
- Do something you enjoy every day. Make time for leisure activities that bring you joy, whether it be stargazing, playing the piano, or working on your bike.
- Keep your sense of humor. This includes the ability to laugh at yourself. The act of laughing helps your body fight stress in a number of ways.