Life changes, the unknown, being out of routine, negative news, feeling a loss of freedom or control, financial strain, isolation/loneliness… all of these can lead to stress. It is a good time to observe how one reacts to stress, and made a decision and commitment to interrupt patterns of coping that do not serve your best interest. There can be a tendency to try to avoid such feelings by immersing in busyness/working, even in creating chaos, or to numb with food, drink, drugs, binge watching, video games….Here are some tips for better self-care.
Listen to what you are saying within. Feelings follow thoughts, and we are not aware of most of them throughout the day. When one is feeling anxious, depressed, afraid, angry…create a quiet space to listen. Where is it coming from? It could be a physical reason for example: feeling anxious because one is dehydrated, or it could be hormonal imbalance or poor gut health that no amount of positive thinking will override, but you can pause to note and observe patterns. What are you telling yourself? Many times we make an unconscious promise reacting to a childhood wound, e.g. “no one will ever tell me what to do” and we find ourselves overreacting to the present and not understand why. For most, just the act of acknowledging the present difficulty and affirming that we have handled tough times before and can do it now can be helpful. Or perhaps bringing logic into it, what are good things that could happen from this? Concurrently work on the habit of gratitude and gathering good memories.
Limit your exposure to negativity. Unfortunately, the main news outlets are negative. The lead-in story for the past 3 months has been about Covid-19. Can you imagine if they reported the percentage of the population not sick, or not in the hospital? Or demographics of those who have recovered and those who have died so one could determine relevance? Perhaps skim headlines online, and read what YOU want to know more about. So many shows are about murders, crime, and such images deadens our ability to be compassionate because of the overwhelm. In real life we are not exposed to such every day (hopefully!), protect yourself from such irrelevance. Be selective about what you expose yourself to, it does impact us. Make a decision of how you want to enrich your life with books, an online classes or seminars, inspirational TED Talks, or even getting out in nature does wonders.
Focus on self-care. Just as the airplane safety drill says that we need to put on our oxygen mask first so we will be able to help someone else, we need to care for ourselves to have more to give. Our moods and immune system are primary reflection of the health of our gut’s microbiome. We literally are what we eat. If we eat junky food, the “bad” microbiota multiply and drive cravings because they want more of the same and we will feel more tired and irritable from lack of needed nutrition. Did you know 80% of chronic disease can be avoided by good nutrition? Focus on meeting our needs of 9-13 cups of fruits and vegetables of all colors (click here for a simple way to increase your fruit and veggie intake) every single day and eat a high fiber diet (animal products are void of fiber) and multiply the good gut bacteria. Along with a good diet, drink plenty of water to flush toxins, get 7-8 hours of sleep a night, and exercise is a good stress reliever. Remember to have time in your day to be creative, and to play!
…if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13: 9-10