7 Essential Self-Care Habits for Times of Stress
In this episode of the Feel Good Effect, we’re talking about 7 simple self-care habits to add to your daily routine. These are science-based habits to build resilience and take care of yourself in times of stress.
7 Essential Self-Care Habits for Times of Stress
Regardless of where your stress comes from, having tools to build resilience so that you can handle what comes at you is an important part of what it means to be healthy.
Let’s talk about self-care: what comes to mind when I say those two words?
In its least effective sense, self-care is used to talk about self-indulgent kinds of routines.
Forms of self-care like bubble baths and massages don’t necessarily have anything wrong with them, but that sense of the definition does take away from the value of having a self-care routine.
Self-care: doing the things that make you feel more like yourself.
It doesn’t mean ignoring what’s going on in the world, or opting out of difficult conversations, or not taking a stand for things that are important for you.
When you’re able to implement self-care habits, you are able to participate in those difficult conversations.
7 Self-Care Habits
1 | Define self-care for yourself.
First, have a clear definition of what self-care looks like in your life and why it matters to you, which requires daily reflection.
You can add this as a journal prompt (add to your morning wellness routine): What does self-care mean to me, and why does it matter?
It is about caring for yourself, nurturing yourself, doing the things that make you feel like yourself, but there’s also a broader purpose.
When you’re well and when you’re cared for, when you’re resilient, you can show up for the people and causes in your lives that really matter.
2 | Practice self-compassion.
Self-compassion has been shown in the research over and over again to have all of these magical effects on wellness.
When you can show yourself compassion, you’re able to have more compassion for others; that’s really where it starts
Having a self-compassion practice can be simple and short, to develop thought patterns that help you respond to yourself with kindness, to understand that to be human is to make mistakes.
I’m doing the best I can and I will move forward.
Self-compassion is a core, fundamental part of self-care.
When you start there everything radiates out.
3 | Set boundaries with technology and media.
Right now, there is a huge advantage to having access to what’s going on in the world and hearing from different voices, but you need to make a decision about what the appropriate boundaries are.
People who care for themselves have clear boundaries for themselves about how and when they use technology.
Your energy and attention are two of your most precious resources.
When you spend your energy and attention on your phone, it’s about how you’re doing it: Is it an intentional choice or an unintentional habit that doesn’t serve a purpose?
4 | Know and acknowledge when you need rest.
Many of us know that we need rest, but somehow are unable to give ourselves the permission to take it, maybe feeling like it’s selfish or like there’s just so much to do.
But think about the advice you would give a dear friend or your child if they were exhausted.
You would say, maybe even plead, for them to rest and know that you would never think it was selfish.
Whether it’s 5-minutes of breathing in the afternoon, taking a break from screens, getting some fresh air, or whether it means taking a full day off of your work and media to do the things that make you feel more like yourself.
The habit is rest, pausing when you need to and knowing that you deserve to rest.
You deserve to rest. When you rest, you’re able to come back stronger and do the things that matter to you.
5 | Move your body.
Sometimes the exhaustion comes from being inactive and not moving our bodies.
Movement can be anything from a quick 5-minute walk to a yoga flow to a pilates session to something that gets your blood pumping like a run or a hike.
Kelly McGonigal talked about the joy of movement as everything from fencing to log throwing; it doesn’t have to be what you traditionally think of as exercise, it’s really just about movement.
If you connect movement to self-care, rather than trying to look a certain way or accomplish a particular outcome, you’ll notice what a huge difference it makes.
When you’re feeling burned out and stressed, remember that there is so much power in movement and in taking those first steps, even though you might not feel like it.
Move your body, even if you don’t feel like going.
Adding movement to your self-care routine will make a huge difference.
6 | Nourish yourself.
How you feed yourself matters and it can be a radical form of self-care.
One direction some of us go when we get stressed is to skip meals, feeling like there isn’t time just overwhelmed
The other direction is to go to a place of emotional eating.
Without judgment, just acknowledging that how you feed yourself is a habit of self-care.
If emotional eating is not helping you deal with the stress, reevaluate that and know that it is absolutely self-care.
7 | Have a form of mindfulness practice.
It could be simple, too, just resting your attention on your breath; on the inhale and the exhale.
One of my favorite mindfulness practices is drinking coffee, paying attention to the smell and the taste, sitting in the quiet, and focusing my attention on mindfulness there.
Mindfulness has been shown in research to help with stress in a number of ways.
Always, always, take what you need and leave what you don’t.
But remember that mindfulness has incredible benefits from such short amounts of time and energy invested.
5-minutes really matters.
Caring for ourselves
These habits are so simple and basic that we can easily forget how much they matter.
We need to be focused on sustainability, what we can do on a daily basis for a long time.
These small shifts add up to huge changes.
You can add these habits to your routine in times of stress, as well as all the time so that when stress comes, you can employ them because you’ve already been doing it.
“Treat yourself with kindness.
By showing yourself compassion, you are able to be a more compassionate person.
It is not selfish; it is fundamental”.
It doesn’t have to be all of them and it doesn’t have to be every day. Small steps add up to big differences.
Other Feel Good Effect Episodes You’ll Love
- The ONE Thing I Do Every Sunday: A Peek Inside My Self-Care & Productivity Routine
- The Likeability Trap: How to Care Less About What Other People Think and Show Up as Authentically Yourself with Alicia Menendez
- What You Really Need to Know About Mindfulness
- How to Create a Daily Routine (After a Big Life Change)