Managing stress levels can often feel like a job in and of itself for me. A “Type-A”, over-achiever by birth, my to-do list is generally long and sitting still is not my forté. Decades of this behavior can and will take its toll in a number of physical and emotional manifestations if time is not set aside to revive your spirit, reduce your cortisol (your body’s built-in alarm system which controls your mood, motivation and fear), and ensure your body and mind is ready for the long-haul.
A commitment to yourself has benefits not just to your inner operations, but those around you in the form of better energy, a more positive attitude, and a more-focused attention. The first question my holistic doctor often asks me is, “what are you doing for self-care?” My response is often not quite enough in her measure to satisfy my level of “fight or flight” personality, so this is an ongoing work-in-progress.
A promise to regularly honor yourself, which is likely a fraction of how much you are in service to others, must not be met with guilt or easily prioritized for something seemingly more pressing, but with the perspective of a critical wellbeing practice. There are many ways you can set aside just 15-20 minutes daily at home, or of course, reward yourself with a more substantial respite during your week…but hitting the bar is not one of them.
Here are some quick ideas for the busy professional:
- Create an at-home spa: Diffuse some rest and relaxation essential oils during a steamy shower or hot bath sprinkled with epsom salts with lavender.
- Take yourself on a creative date: Hit the craft store, a museum, or sign up for an art class. Anything that’s just your own to get your creative juices flowing and appreciate the many ways to express yourself and calm the mind.
- Time for tea: Sit quietly, listen to meditation music, and sip some Tulsi Tea with holy basil which helps relieve the body’s natural reaction to stress.
- Commit to journaling 3 pages each morning: Start each day with 3 pages of long-hand, stream of consciousness writing. Whether that be pages of gratitude, whatever is stuck in your mind from the past, or the simple exercise of repeatedly writing “I don’t know what to write today”, can help get your mind flowing in a positive direction. A book called, “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron discusses this helpful practice in detail and is worth the read.
- Try oil pulling each morning: In Ayurveda, oil-pulling is part of a daily self-care ritual. It’s basically swishing 1 tablespoon of coconut or sesame oil in your mouth for 5-20 minutes, then spitting it out and brushing your teeth as usual afterwards. It promotes daily detoxification and purification and helps your teeth look a bit more white in the process. Win-win. I like to read a book or journal while I swish to make the time go by faster.
- Try a still point inducer: The spa at my holistic medicine practice offers craniosacral therapy and my husband is a big fan of the still point inducer they use to release stress. Just lie on the floor for 10 to 20 minutes at a time up to 4 times a day to feel the benefits.
- Pick up a coloring book: I have a 4-year-old daughter and we just spent the last few days working on a new coloring book she had received as a gift. In doing that with her, it reminded me that coloring can be such a relaxing activity even for adults. There are some beautiful options out there so enjoy the hunt or try this one.