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Ten Self-Care Tips for Stressful Times

Life has been extraordinarily challenging this past year, so it's more important than ever to be intentional about your self-care. Not to be confused with selfishness or self-indulgence, self-care allows us to be resilient in stressful times and be there for those who depend on us. Below are a collection of simple tips on practicing self-care from Pine Rest experts.

Adequate sleep is great self-care and a huge stress buster!
"Restful sleep is a must-do if you truly want to keep your stress from going into overdrive. Putting some good sleep habits in place, can help you achieve better sleep on a every night basis."

– Ron Devries, Ph.D., Is Your stress Level Helping or Hurting You?

You don't have to do it all. Build a support team.
"Your team can consist of your spouse or partner, kids, parents and friends. Everyone can do their part. Have honest conversations about the things you need support in doing. Pass off tasks you don't enjoy to someone in the house who doesn't mind them. See what you can take on to relieve someone else's burden."

– Elizza LeJeune, LMSW, Setting Seasonal Goals to Boost Productivity and Reduce Anxiety

Exercise regularly—but don't start with the unattainable!
"Instead, start by checking with your doctor if you have any health concerns. Then, simply get more active. Walk around the block and gradually build up to 30 minutes. Exercise will help you to feel less anxious, have more energy, sleep better, and feel less depressed."

– Jean Holthaus, LISW, MSW, P.L.E.A.S.E.: Self-Care Tips for Anxiety and Depression

Reduce exposure to your triggers.
"We have all faced difficult things and some of us are simply more sensitive to certain issues. I have friend who blocked PETA advertisements from Facebook because she loves animals and the information would upset her to the point of tears. Other possible sensitivities include politics, abortion, abuse, weather-related disaster, racism, war, violence against the LGBT population, etc."

– Kim Kunze, Psy.D. Caring for Yourself When There's Traumatic News

Deep Breathing Exercise:

1. Lay on your back and lay your hand gently on your stomach.
2. Slowly breath in over a count of five making your stomach puff out as it fills with air (watch your hand to see this happen).
3. Hold breath for two counts.
4. Slowly exhale over a count of five and watch your stomach flatten and your hand go down as you do this.
5. Repeat five times.

Stop beating yourself up. Practice mindfulness instead.
"Why are we so hard on ourselves? As human beings, we will say the wrong thing, make the wrong turn or arrive at the wrong time! Making mistakes doesn't make us stupid; it makes us human. Unfortunately, beating ourselves up for making everyday mistakes often develops into a negative cycle of thinking. Practicing mindfulness can help us have more self-compassion and less negative self-judgment!"

– Kym Hansen-Duell, LMSW, ACSW, Tips on Developing Your Self-Compassion

Balance your eating.
"We feel physically better when we eat a healthy balance of fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, and grains while limiting excess fat and sugar. Whether you are hungry all the time or never hungry, eating six small meals over the course of a day instead of three larger meals may make eating healthy more manageable. The key is to find what works for you and then to do this regardless of how you feel in the moment."

– Jean Holthaus, LISW, MSW, P.L.E.A.S.E.: Self-Care Tips for Anxiety and Depression

Reset your expectations.
"When our own personal expectations for ourselves and others is not met, we feel disappointed, guilty, anxious, upset and more conflict is likely to increase. The challenge today is to remember to adjust our expectations to align with our new reality (that things are difficult right now, that doing less might be wiser than striving to do more). Then, we will find ourselves confidently enduring this most challenging period of time that our world is facing."

– Kevin Neumann, CAADC, Setting Realistic Expectations During Challenging Times

Feel your feelings.
"Allow yourself to FEEL—joy, anger, sadness, relief, loss ... Don't be afraid to express your feelings and be willing to allow others to be with you in your emotion. Give your emotions a time and a place to be expressed by engaging in activities specifically for that purpose."

– Jean Holthaus, LISW, MSW, Navigating Loss and Change During the Holidays

Commit only to starting.
"Nothing happens without starting. It is all that we really must commit to. Consider finishing as secondary at this point. Starting might mean ...

  • Leaning forward so that you have to start walking or risk falling flat on your face.
  • Sitting on an exercise bike with no expectation of pedaling.
  • Saying a single word as a means of starting a conversation. (If you start with a single word, you've already broken the seal, my friend. The person on the receiving end of that truncated sentence is going to want you to finish your thought!)

Just take it 'one day at a time.' Or an hour at a time ... or a minute at a time. Starting is that single first step then repeated over a thousand-mile journey."

– Gordon Greer, LMSW, ACSW, CAADC, Getting Things Done

Courtesy of Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services.


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