Living with intention versus tension
February 5, 2020
by Joni Stadtherr, MSW, LICSW
In our fast-paced world, we are stressed both at work and home. Let’s face it, life is demanding.
That’s why it’s so important to take care of ourselves. We call this self-care. Self-care is any activity or action that we do with the intention of taking care of our mental, emotional and physical health. When our stress ramps up, self-care is often the first thing to go.
You may be practicing self-care and not even realize it. For many people, self-care activities are physical activity, prayer, meditation, massage, church, reading, music, being with your family, hanging out with friends, cooking, getting outside, taking a shower or bath, and more.
Remember, self-care should recharge you, not drain you. Take drinking – one glass of wine may calm your nerves, but 3 glasses can lead to poor sleep, a morning headache and low energy.
Here are some strategies to enhance your daily well-being
- Connect with your breath: Follow your breath instead of taking deep breaths. Your breath will soften naturally and you will notice a natural, organic shift.
- Just move: Movement of any kind big or small can relieve stress. Whether it’s running, walking or sitting on a yoga ball while watching TV, try to add movement to your day. Even a quick stretch or shift in posture will give your nervous system a moment to reset.
- Self-touch and contact: When you feel stressed, try putting your hand on your chest. The gentle pressure can relax and soothe. If you need a hug, let your partner, spouse or children know. When we hug, our bodies release a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin reduces blood pressure and stress.
- Helpful self-talk: Some examples are “I’m having a bad moment, not a bad day;” “Everything will be OK,” or “I can handle this,” “It’s a little deal, not a big deal.” Try writing a message you’d like to absorb on a post-it note and put it on your computer screen or bathroom mirror.
- Orienting: Take 20 seconds to let your eyes wander to something in the room. Look at it, notice the colors, texture and shape. This can give you a mini-vacation.
- Grounding: Take your shoes off, press down into the ground, use your heels, use the tips of your toes, feel the support offered to your from your environment. It’s soothing.
- Predictable rhythms: Establish a predictable pattern of eating, sleeping and movement.
- Identify tension patterns: Get to know yourself better. Notice where you carry your stress. Some people carry tension in their jaws, back of neck or shoulders. Throughout the day, stretch or move those muscles.
- Know your triggers: Understand what triggers feelings of stress and tension. On the flipside, notice when you are at your most relaxed. Try using the things that relax you when you are under stress.