“Lighten up on yourself. No one is perfect. Gently accept your humanness.”
It doesn’t matter what brings you to a moment of feeling overwhelmed, stressed, depressed or numb. Maybe it’s work. Maybe it’s relationship stress. Maybe it’s everything all at once, or that one thing you feel is missing from your life. Emotions are a tricky thing to navigate, but as we’ve just established, it doesn’t matter what’s bringing you down. If you know you need to feel better, then the steps to achieving balance are the same.
You need to practice self-care. The mental health benefits are tremendous.
In our lowest moments, it can be difficult to remember what self-care looks like. Here is a checklist of questions you can ask yourself to determine whether you are truly practicing self-care, and follow-up actions for you to take when you realize you haven’t been prioritizing your own health.
- When is the last time I felt relaxed? If you cannot remember, that’s a problem. Build relaxation time into your daily or weekly routine. Treat yourself to
regularspa or salon days. They offer a relaxing break from your responsibilities and leave you feeling beautiful. Get into a daily meditation or another mindful relaxation routine, which could simply mean taking a few minutes away from what’s stressing you out and focusing on breathing deeply. Schedule time to read a book or go on a solo walk to clear your mind. Remember, such things aren’t a reward for your hard work; they are an important part of staying happy and whole.
- Am I getting enough sleep? The body needs to reset and refresh itself. If you haven’t been getting a good night’s sleep, make it a priority
too. It may not be possible every night, but three times a week is better than once a week, and once a week is better than never. Northwestern University offers some tips on getting better rest, including practicing deep-breathing methods and sleeping in a new location.
- Do I have somewhere to go where I can be alone? Not everyone has the luxury of being able to travel to a relaxing spa or salon. That doesn’t mean you have to live with stress and negative emotions. Try designating a room or space in your home specifically for meditation or relaxation. You can retreat to this space and clear your head, even if only for a few minutes of your increasingly busy day.
- Have I dropped the word “no” from my vocabulary? Overextending yourself is unhealthy. While it is wonderful to help people, if you are constantly putting others before yourself, you run the risk of burning out. Don’t take on more than you can chew. A universal truth of the world is that it will keep spinning whether you like it or not. Saying “no” to one more responsibility or obligation isn’t going to end the world, but it could be the difference between you having a chance to recharge or getting totally burned out.
- Is help available to me? When we stretch ourselves too thin, we sometimes get tunnel vision and fail to see the supportive network of people and resources around us. Now is a good time to evaluate your workload and determine whether you really need to be doing everything you’re doing or whether there are things that can be outsourced. If you have financial resources, you can pay professionals to do menial tasks that stress you out. If you have
family, you can have them step up and assist. If you are feeling depressed or stressed, take advantage of local counselors or service providers in the area. Help is out there. You just have to look for it.
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