In today’s fast-paced world it’s easy to become burned-out, overwhelmed and well, just plain stressed.
Yes, we get so caught up in our daily lives that we forget to reconnect back to an essential component of our lives—our personal health and wellness.
Set aside some daily time to nourish yourself—even if it’s just five minutes at first. Creating your own personal self-care plan will help to combat daily stressors and refocus your thoughts.
Test it out! Achieve greater balance and enhance your wellbeing with these 10 simple restorative activities:
- Practice breathwork. Might sound a bit silly, but taking in a few slow, deep breaths can really make a difference in how you feel and quiet your overactive mind. Try the “three second” method: breathe in, hold, and exhale for three seconds each. A very simple technique, I regularly employ it while driving during rush hour.Side note: it definitely comes highly recommended, especially after someone cuts you off.
- Drink herbal tea. Why not relax for a few minutes and sip some warm tea? Try chamomile, kava kava, peppermint, or lavender, all of which are great options for stress relief.
- Take a walk outside. It will be invigorating and lighten your mental load. The air quality of the indoors can sometimes be less than ideal, so breathe in some fresh air—and get some exercise while you’re at it.
- Cultivate gratitude. You’ll be amazed how perspectives start shifting for the positive when you take time out to foster gratitude. Suddenly you aren’t so mad at the little annoyances that pop up throughout the day (like your partner forgetting to take the trash out). Pay it forward by randomly committing a nice gesture for a stranger. Never underestimate the effects of such an act.Recently, a stranger ahead of me in line at the coffee shop anonymously paid for my drink. Interestingly, before getting up to the counter I had been silently cursing the long wait (and the slow customer directly in front of me). Talk about learning a fine lesson in patience and kindness that day.
- Indulge your senses. Take a bite of that delicious dark chocolate. Buy a sweet-smelling floral bouquet to add some color to a bleak room. Invest in a potted plant—it can help to filter the air and breathe some life into your house. Try listening to soothing music as you compete mundane tasks like cleaning, or as you take a warm bath. Light some candles and place them throughout the room. Engage your senses to bring you into the present moment and give you peace of mind.
- Get some restful sleep. Easier said than done, but try to regularly get plenty of sleep every night. Take a mid-day nap as needed. Sleep helps to rejuvenate your mind and body so it should never be taken lightly. If you are having trouble falling asleep at night, be conscious of your daily caffeine intake and experiment with cutting it down (or completely out of your diet). Engaging in aerobic exercise will improve the quality of your sleep. Natural supplements like valerian root and melatonin can also help you reach dreamland without major side effects.
- Try a visualization or mental imagery exercise. This technique can be an excellent way to relax and de-stress. There are many ways to go about this, but see the below cloud breathing visualization to help you get started.
- Hang with friends and family. Practicing self-care also entails spending quality time with loved ones. Where would we be without the support of these special individuals? Make sure to connect with your social groups to counteract the effects of negative stress.
- Keep a journal. Whether it is primarily for dreams, observations, gratitude, or whatnot, this is a prime method to detox your mind and release all those thoughts that keep circling around in your head. You may be surprised at the insights you gain as you look back through past entries.
- Remember to smile. Another one that initially sounds silly, smiling may lower blood pressure and reduce stress. Even if smiling is the last thing you want to do, adopt the “fake it ‘til you make it” policy since even if you “mimic” a smile, apparently the body will react like it is truly experiencing a pleasant emotion and respond by releasing the “feel good” hormone, serotonin (which controls our emotional balance and sense of wellbeing).
Cloud Breathing Visualization
Close your eyes and focus all your attention on your breathing. Visualize breathing in clean, fresh air through your nostrils which then circulates throughout your whole body. When you exhale through the mouth, imagine that the air is dark and dirty as it leaves your body, taking all stressors and negativity with it as it is released. Continue to inhale the pure, healing air that revitalizes your body and expel the toxic, cloudy air. Repeat this cycle for 5-10 minutes. Feel free to journal about what you noticed during and after this exercise.
Seaward, B. L. (2012). Managing stress: Principles and strategies for health and wellness. (7rd ed.). Boston: Jones and Bartlett.