Recurring stress is not a natural part of life. All too often, we accept stress as something unavoidable. When we encounter stress at work, in traffic, or at home, we convince ourselves that stress is something we have no choice but to deal with — and that’s simply not true.
When our lives are filled with stress, we are doing damage to our minds and bodies. Unmanaged stress can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease — and that’s just the physical symptoms. When we feel burdened by stress, our mental health suffers, too. We can feel anxious, depressed, overwhelmed, or irritable — all of which can lead right back to those physical side effects. That’s what makes stress a dangerous and deadly cycle.
So, how can we move beyond accepting and succumbing to stress and into moving through and away from it? We can’t avoid stressful situations — that’s impossible. However, we can manage the way it impacts us by focusing on self-care strategies.
What Is Self-Care?
You may think self-care is synonymous with selfishness, but that is a myth that can hold you back from being truly selfless. When you practice self-care, you are better able to care for others because you aren’t overwhelmed, overburdened, or burned out. Think of self-care like the gas you need to make your car run — you can’t drive your mother to the doctor or get to work on time without gas. And if you are constantly low on gas, you’ll always be worried and anxious that you’ll run out every time you drive. Like gas, self-care recharges and refuels you, empowering you to feel excited and energized about taking care of everything from responsibilities to people. Some easy examples of self-care techniques include:
Self-care is many things, but there are a few things self-care is not. Self-care activities are unarguably good for you — so any coping mechanisms that can damage your health, whether in the moment or the long-term, aren’t considered self-care. Drinking alcohol when you are stressed, for example, isn’t a healthy self-care activity.
What Are the Benefits of Self-Care?
Self-care has a variety of benefits, all depending on the kind of activities you choose. However, there are some advantages common to all forms of self-care, especially if you choose all-natural and holistic strategies. When you make self-care a daily priority, you can:
Self-care is beneficial because you are intentionally engaging in an activity that emphasizes being good, compassionate, and loving toward yourself. Regardless of the activity or activities you choose, be sure to fit in at least one every day to make a dent in the amount of stress you encounter. Even if you only set aside 15 minutes a day for self-care, you’ll see positive changes in your mental and physical well-being that can trickle into other areas of your life.