We all experience stress in our lives. Some stress is actually good! The kind of stress that increases our reflexes and mind before a performance/test/job interview to just the right level is an example. The problem begins when we take something in our lives we find stressful and we push "play" and "repeat". Some of this may be in the form of worrying or ruminating. Another form is being constantly "plugged in" to our email/news/twitter/facebook, etc... Do you find yourself checking the news and clocking more social media hours than usual? Have you noticed how you feel after seeing pessimistic predictions or reading an opinion that is drastically different than your own?
Never giving our mind and body a break from thinking about stress creates all kinds of negative physical responses.
Perhaps some of these are familiar to you:
- Poor sleep
- Muscle tension
- Poor digestion/acid reflux
- Poor concentration
- Increased unhealthy "escape" behaviors
- Lower immunity functioning
- Stress is a contributing factor to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
One of my favorite sayings is “More stress means more self-care”. More stress is an indicator that our level of self-care needs to be cranked up a notch or two…or three. This saying is such an important reminder because when we get stressed, we usually do the opposite. We often turn to numbing behaviors to avoid the stress. Eating more sweets or junk food, skipping meals, staying up late playing games or getting lost on the internet, working long hours, smoking, shopping, etc… All of these behaviors distract us for a few moments. They all also lead to more stress!
What does more self-care look like? For me, I stopped checking my phone first thing in the morning. Instead, I take some deep breaths and I go through my body, thanking it for doing an amazing job! I found I feel profoundly more positive after doing this activity rather than my previous pattern. I continue to make time for social supports and fun. I take a nap when I feel tired. These are things that work for me, but there are many other examples of good self-care. Check out the list below:
Get adequate sleep
Drink plenty of water
Eat more fruits and vegetables
Enjoy things in moderation
Cut back on junk foods (or as I like to call them, non-foods)
Limit or eliminate alcohol use
Spend more time with positive people
Pray or engage in a spiritual practice
Unplug from electronics on a regular basis
Express Creativity: writing, music, art, dancing, coloring, etc…
Do you know you need to do some of the above but are having a problem incorporating them into your life? I help people manage stress and incorporate healthy lifestyle habits as part of my hypnosis and coaching work. Please feel free to contact me if I may be of help! 607-287-7907