Self-care strategies work. In my book, "Goodbye Anxiety, Hello Freedom", I share 35 different strategies, as one-size-doesn't-fit-all! Today, I've got 5 simple tips to share that will help you relax and find your emotional balance.
The #1 Most Important Thing to Add to Your Self-Care Routine
Limit how much media you consume and how often. I've said this for years and now it is absolutely critical. Checking the latest news over and over again is like taking a jackhammer to our nervous system, which in turn affects our immune system. Right now we want to be boosting our immune systems as much as possible!
Set a schedule of when you will check the news and stick to it! If you find comfort in watching cat or puppy videos on your social media, by all means continue that! But unfollow the news media and people you know who share a lot of news.
Schedule This Too
Set a timer on your phone to take mini-breaks many times an hour. By interrupting the stress and anxiety over and over again, it's about taking a moment to find that quiet space to quiet your mind. This way it doesn't build up to overwhelm.
My yoga practice is part of my daily practice, and yet I know that one 75 minute break isn't enough to help me through the rest of the day. In addition to my breathwork practices and essential oils that I use for emotional balance, I have started taking mini breaks and walking in place to get my step count up. Physically moving your body, whether it's walking or dancing or lifting weights definitely helps calm your anxious mind. Animals naturally do this - when they are being chased the go into the fight-or-flight mode. When they get to safety, they shake it off and re-set their nervous system.
Use Your Kind Voice
Our self-talk can sometimes be so cruel! Many times we will say something to ourselves that we would never say to another human being. That needs to stop now!
Right now, as we navigate a "new normal," I'm hearing a lot of negative self-talk. My invitation to you is to begin to notice your self talk; without using it as a way to beat yourself up. Once you notice the negative self talk, you can choose to say “cancel/cancel” and reframe it. Just a short amount of time doing this practice, I think you’ll notice less and less of that negative, critical self talk. And when there is less and less of the negative self talk, there’s more positive self talk and then you feel much better!
Get Your Gratitude On
I KNOW this can be tough - especially now - and yet it is SO important: neuroscience proves that feeling gratitude activates the parts of the brain connected with the happiness hormone dopamine. Dopamine makes us feel good, so we want to repeat what we just felt. We experience gratitude and want to feel more of it and it becomes a loop. Dopamine helps keep the loop going – the more you experience gratitude, the more your brain looks for more things to be grateful for.
Right before we drift to sleep and when we first wake up, we are in a state called the "hypnagogic state" - a state identical to hypnosis. That state is a perfect time to program in your gratitude. Fall asleep thinking about what you're grateful for from the day and start the day first thing when you wake up writing down 3 or more things you are grateful for.
Calm Your Brain
I shared this on a webinar recently and participants LOVED it!
Grab a ball or anything within arm’s reach (a water bottle your keys etc.). Notice your stress or anxiety or distress and rated from 1 to 10. Now begin to pass the ball from one hand to the other, passing it back and forth, back and forth – making sure to cross the midline of the body. Do this for about a minute and then check in with that stress or anxiety or distress and notice what number it is now. If it’s more than zero or one, tossed the ball back and forth for another minute or so. Repeat for as many times as you need to make it dissipate completely or at least bring it down to a manageable level.
The reason this is so effective is we are crossing the midline of the body crossing the midline of the brain - balancing both sides of the brain to bring emotional balance.
Other Ways to Take Good Care of You
I have spent over 20 years researching simple ways to calm stress, anxiety and fear. We need to practice these now more than ever. In times of extreme stress, it is more important than ever to take care of you. Like they say on the airplanes: "If the oxygen masks come down, place one on yourself first, THEN help others."
Here are some resources with many more simple self-care tips:
Please take very good care of you and your loved ones.
Could your company or organization use help supporting your employees' emotional wellness as we navigate through this crisis? Let's talk.