The Best Self-Care Habits to Help Manage Stress
Finding routine self-care habits to manage stress is an incredibly important, yet personal, journey. Stress is a hormonal response from your body that occurs when an event in your life, whether physical, spiritual, or mental, is categorized as a danger. While we all experience short-term stress occasionally, long-term stress is a serious ailment that can affect all facets of your wellbeing.
In dealing with stress, it’s important to take stock of the situation and understand where the feeling is coming from. Then, find ways to either remove the stressor from your reality or lessen its impact.
Here are some of the best self-care habits to help manage stress!
Focus on the Present
Being mindful is one of the easiest, most powerful ways that we can all reduce stress. In a broad sense, mindfulness means focusing on the present moment, taking note of your surroundings, and accepting the situation free of judgment. To do this, focus on your breath, listen to the sounds in the room, and pay attention to your thoughts and words.
Additionally, I like to include aromatherapy in my mindfulness practice. Not only can you use candles, essential oil diffusers, or other scents to help keep you focused, but you can also use specific scents to help you relax such as lavender, chamomile, and jasmine.
Spend Time in Nature
Spending quality time in nature is a great stress-reliever. Studies have shown that even a few minutes relaxing on the beach, taking a hike in a forest, or spending time in water lowers cortisol levels. Not to mention, nature is a calm setting in which you can practice mindfulness.
No matter how you get it – whether it’s by running, walking, yoga, dancing, hiking or biking – prioritizing exercise into your self-care routine can be an awesome way to reduce stress. Exercise releases endorphins (a feel-good hormone) and helps lower cortisol levels, leaving you with that “runner’s high” you’ve heard so much about.
Not only that, but studies have also shown that exercise can help you get a better night’s sleep, lower the symptoms of depression, and improve your focus and cognitive functions.
Being grateful means recognizing all the things you have to be thankful for in life, big and small. Personally, I incorporate gratitude into my self-care routine every single day to keep myself in a positive headspace and manage stress. I wake up in the morning, make myself a cup of tea, and write down everything I have to be grateful for in my journal – from the way the sun feels on my skin to any big life advancements I may be experiencing.
Additionally, I find it beneficial to practice gratitude throughout the day. Let your heart fill with thanks and appreciation every time you have a positive interaction and I promise you, it will be a game-changer.
Meditation is an amazing tool for stress reduction. Not only can you meditate pretty much anywhere, but meditation also has incredible short and long-term effects on the body, mind, and soul.
In helping to release short-term stress, I love to use guided meditations that help me visualize some of my favorite natural settings such as a desert oasis or a stream.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
Whether it’s stress, anger, sadness, happiness, love, or hate, every single feeling in life has a purpose and is part of the human experience. It’s important to remember that feelings are neither good nor bad, and it’s how we choose to deal with our feelings that define a situation.
In dealing with stress, it’s beneficial to acknowledge the feeling so that the cause can be pinpointed and the feeling released. In doing this, sit with yourself and feel the stress in your body — physically locate where the stress is rooted. Then, ask yourself where the stress is coming from. Is it due to a specific event? A general feeling of overwhelm? Or a larger situation?
It’s only by acknowledging the stress and finding the root cause of it that you can move forward and put the feeling to rest.
Spend Time With Loved Ones
Being around people you love and respect is a great way to relieve stress. Not only does this engender a sense of belonging, but it’s also a great way to practice mindfulness.
Not to mention, studies have proven that positive physical touch, such as a hug, can reduce blood pressure, lower anxiety, and boost your immune system through the release of oxytocin.
Relax Your Body
Due to the fact that we store tension in our muscles, regularly making a point to physically relax is greatly beneficial in helping us relieve stress. Whenever I’ve gone through a time of great mental or physical stress, I always remember to do a series of full-body stretches, work out any muscular knots through massage, and release further tension through a hot bath or shower.
In particular, I love to relax with full-body progressive muscle relaxation. Performed with the help of an audio guide, this technique involves focusing on a particular area of the body at a time, recognizing any tension in that area, and releasing that tension, eventually covering the entire body. By doing this, you’ll release tension and stress you didn’t even realize you had.
Eat Whole Foods
From our bodies to our minds, diet plays a big role in how we feel every day. You know the saying “you are what you eat”? Well, in regards to stress, this rings especially true.
It’s no secret that consuming a diet high in sugar and caffeine can induce anxiety and make us feel jittery. However, if you find yourself with high-stress levels, it’s not only important to cut out the foods that exacerbate the situation but to also add in nutrient-rich foods that are beneficial to overall wellness.
Only you can decide the right food lifestyle for you, but eating whole, non-processed foods is a great place to start!
Talk It Out
Talking to someone about our stressors can be an incredible release strategy. Whether it’s simply venting to a friend or booking time in with a registered therapist, finding someone that can provide insight into any ongoing stress can help you identify the source and help you move forward.
What are some of your favorite ways that you reduce stress in your day-to-day life? Let us know in the comments!