Self-Care in Troubling Times

A lot of us are feeling uneasy. We are being surrounded by a lot of negative noise right now.  Our stress is on the increase: Our country’s political climate, our jobs, our family relationships, our financial situation, or all the above may be taking a toll on your health, both mentally and physically. Typically, when faced with all this negative energy, self-care takes a back seat. We start to ignore our own needs – not looking inward, and put all the focus on what is happening around us – only looking outward. Learning how to redirect and take care of your own needs will help you function better. The result will be replenishment of your energy reserves that stress and anger deplete.

I personally have had a lot of ups and downs in the last 12 months. Our family was hit with trauma, loss, and health issues, but there was some good stuff too. Unfortunately, I was having a hard time focusing on the good and found myself in a dark place. My sleep was disrupted, I wasn’t eating, I had a very short temper, and my entire body hurt. Our bodies are just not designed to live in constant despair without it taking its toll. We also may fall into the trap of becoming so numb to the negative around us that we start to accept it as normal. When my own health started to head downhill, I had to take a step back and evaluate how I was handling the negative around me.

I am a health coach, I help others navigate these ups and downs in their lives. I know better, but I am human, I am not perfect. I had to re-frame my thinking and divert the energy I was investing in being miserable, and redirect it towards positive change, looking inward and implementing the actions I list below. I know the benefits of taking time to sit and breath and that of meditation, but sometimes when you are in deep despair, those things just don’t come naturally. If breathing exercises and meditation are just not for you right now, here is a list of other things that might be easier for you to do to replenish those energy reserves or regain a more positive outlook:

  1. If world events are causing you the most stress; take a break from the internet, Facebook, and watching the news. Maybe it is a day, a few hours, a few days, whatever feels right for you. This doesn’t mean to stick your head in the sand and ignore it all, but just to step back for a bit. Give yourself a break from the 24-hour news cycle.
  2. Do something you enjoy. Something that gives you pleasure. Maybe that is cooking, reading, or crafts.
  3. Listen to calming music.
  4. Soak in a tub. Adding Epson salt and lavender will help you relax. Not a tub person? Try a hot shower with a few drops of lavender oil on the shower floor.
  5. Get together with a friend, but make sure it is someone positive, and not someone that will bring you down further.
  6. Take a walk, do some yoga, go for a run, lift some weights. Exercise can lower stress hormones.
  7. Watch a silly comedy. Laughter truly is medicine.
  8. Focus on your senses. Sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Pick two senses, sit back and focus. What can you hear right now, what do you see, etc. This will help redirect your mind and get you grounded again.
  9. Make sure you are getting enough sleep. When you are stressed or anxious, sleep suffers. I have a few apps on my iPad that help. Timeless Wisdom, for anger and stress management, Insight Timer, Breathe, Yoga Nidra, OMG I can Meditate are good options. They can guide you to quiet your mind to fall asleep.
  10. Sign up to do some volunteer work in your community. This will help you find gratitude in your own life.
  11. Put down the sugar and refined carbohydrates which increases inflammation and add more whole foods into your diet. An inflamed brain is a depressed brain.
  12. Drink more water. A basic rule of thumb, half your body weight in ounces of water per day.

When we take care of ourselves and make it a priority, we become more present for our family and our community. We gain a deeper understanding of ourselves, others, and the world. We can then gather the strength we need to handle the unpleasant things life throws our way, thus giving us the ability for growth and learning.


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