As your life becomes more stressful and busy, decompressing, de-stressing and relaxing can also become a bit more challenging. When dealing with that kind of stress, taking a nap isn’t always enough.
To me, at least, relaxing that actually brings in ease and calmness was something I had to learn. My self-care rituals for stressful days don’t always involve simple things like taking a bath or curling up with a book. When I experience high levels of stress, my mind is often all over the place and no amount of trashy TV or dark chocolate can slow it down or tune it out.
The first step to learning how to bring in that ease and sense of calmness during those tough days is teaching yourself to embrace a passive attitude of sorts. You need to learn how to “turn off” and focus on your body; your breathing, those tense muscles, the thoughts and all the different scenarios racing through your mind.
7 SELF-CARE RITUALS FOR STRESSFUL DAYS
RE-EVALUATING YOUR PRIORITIES
Even though it might not seem like it, this is a huge part of self-care and, pretty much, the whole idea behind it. Are you paying attention to the right things; things that are important to you? Are you devoting too much time to things that might not matter a whole lot but bring a lot of stress into your life? Maybe you’re trying to do too much and you’re spreading yourself thin? Take a closer look at where that stress is coming from, where your valuable time goes.
The whole idea of “turning off” doesn’t mean that you should try to run away from any negative emotions, thoughts, or feelings. You have to allow yourself to process it all, to feel it, and not try to push any of it away. You can do so by free-writing, brain dumping, journaling, or if you really want to commit to letting it all go- do a big mental cleanse.
It’s okay to be unsure, to allow yourself to take some time out to think things over and reconsider certain commitments or new responsibilities. Don’t say “yes” too quickly or easily, especially if you ever feel unsure about committing to something.
TAKE A STEP BACK
Sometimes the stressful situations you find yourself in have nothing to do with you. It’s so easy to get dragged into some “drama” or uncomfortable situations between friends or family members. Some people, as much as we love them, can be great at emotional dumping. Venting is something we all do and it’s a healthy way of expressing feelings. Dumping (which includes the other person always blaming someone else, playing a victim), on the other hand, can feel very toxic and overwhelming. Knowing how to take a step back, drawing that line between your life and someone else’s life is all about setting boundaries and protecting your own energy. You have to remember to look out for yourself.
LEARN TO LOVE BEING STILL
Working out has always been my favorite way of dealing with any kind of stress and one of my favorite self-care rituals for stressful days. When in 2017 I found myself in a situation when I not only wasn’t able to do my intense workouts anymore BUT I also had all this new stress to deal with all of the sudden, it felt like I was losing that safety net. I was losing one of the things that helped me stay sane. Instead, I had to learn to embrace the opposite: being still- my favorite way to do this is with Kundalini Yoga. It’s amazing for developing more awareness and spiritual strength (you can checkout YogaDownload and take a class at home which is what I do) and getting rid of that mental clutter that weighs you down. To me, this is the ultimate act of self-care as it not only helps me find peace and clarity but also helps me re-connect with my body, which goes through a lot during stress.
This is one of my favorite ways of keeping my stress in check. I talked about some of my favorite apps in my Nighttime Self-Care Rituals post. These audio apps use clinical hypnotherapy to help you relax, manage stress, create a more positive outlook and help you fall asleep- which is something that I personally struggle the most with when going dealing with a lot of stress.
BREATHE IT ALL OUT
As you experience stress, your body sends out stress signals- your heart beats faster, your muscles tighten, your palms are starting to sweat. To best deal with unpredicted stress, you need to train yourself to recognize those signals and you’ll be able to better react to those stressful situations. Your body feels stress a little quicker than your mind- this is why it’s important to pay attention. If you notice your breath becoming quick and shallow, for example, that’s a sign of approaching stress. That’s when you know to identify those stressors and eliminate them. This is one of my favorite breathing exercises that help me calm down very quickly:
- Take a deep breath in through your mouth, expanding your stomach, and hold it in.
- While holding your breath, tense all of your muscles- your legs, face, neck, arms, and hold it for 5-10 seconds.
- Slowly exhale and release all the tension from your muscles, allowing your body to relax. It’s best to do it lying or sitting down if you have a tendency to get dizzy or lightheaded. Repeat it as many times as you need, until you notice your breath and heart rate return to normal.
Long-term stress can change the way you process it and make you more vulnerable and susceptible to even more stress and emotional imbalance. These things tend to build up over time and can come back and hit you out of nowhere.
This is why it’s so important to not push it away, to not tell yourself that you’ll deal with it later or try to convince yourself that all is well, or that you just need to toughen up. It’s okay to take care of yourself, especially during times of heightened stress, and put your emotional being ahead of everything else.
Do you have any self-care rituals for stressful days? How do you look out for yourself when life gets hectic?