Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on May 2, 2019

20 Coping Skills for Stress That Will Help You Stay Strong

20 Coping Skills for Stress That Will Help You Stay Strong

Few things in life are guaranteed, although I can be quite certain when I say:

Someone is going to really annoy you. Someone is going to die and leave you feeling empty and unable to go on. Something out of the blue is going to challenge you to the core of your humanity. Something is going to breakdown and stop working at the most inopportune moment you could imagine. You are going to spend money on something you really don’t want to. You are going to be forced to do something you never thought you’d do. You are going to face a challenge that feels completely soul destroying…

How can you know these things, Mandie?

I hear you ask.

Well because as my dear Nan used to say “In every life, a little rain must fall.” Looking back as I watched Nan cook a meal worthy of gods or any childhood dream sequence I know I used to struggle with what that saying meant.

Of course some rain must fall, we would die without water, I used to think.

However on the other side of childhood where bills, maintenance, insurance and other boring things exist, I’m pretty sure I get the true meaning of that saying.

The intriguing thing is that I’m a keen reader and find that so much in personal and professional development and in the pursuit of happiness is aimed at ensuring we don’t just have wellies, brollies and waterproofs, to protect us from the rain in life, but that we are so far removed from any wet stuff we can’t appreciate the damage that this polar opposite can also have on our positive existence.

I want to share with you some of the top coping skills for life that aren’t just good for the rainy days, they can have a serious impact on your life.

Into every life, some tough times appear, it is not the tough times that define us, it’s how we deal with them that does.

All very well having great sentiments like that; however when your car has broken down, you feel ill and can’t stop because deadlines are looming, your cat’s puked in your shoes, your phone won’t hold a charge, and they are making people redundant at work it can be hard to have the a positive “Can do” attitude.

Let’s look at what to do (And I promise to make these ideas easy to action, life changing if applied, fast and reliable. Promise):

1. Find out the Real Cause of the Problem

    I’m a keen believer that if you can’t see what’s going on, I mean really see, then you can’t fix it. I’m often coaching a client who will walk in telling me that X is the issue when 20 minutes later we’ve delved into their minds and discovered that X was just a symptom of the problem.

    And as you probably know treating symptoms and not the actual problem rarely works. The real issue is left to carry on wrecking your health, happiness and mental well being.

    How does this apply in stressful situations? Have you ever had a friend that was pregnant, or you lost or gained weight, or realized that you were “suddenly” in this really bad habit of walking in the door at night and instantly grabbing a cold beverage?

    That didn’t just start, over time that gradually became more prominent. And when things sneak into our lives, be a beautiful baby bump or an unwanted 10lb, it didn’t just land on you overnight.

    2. Ask Yourself the Difficult Questions

      So to find out how you are coping with stressful situations, ask yourself some questions:

      • How do I feel right now on a scale of 1 to 10? (10 being awesome and 1 being awful)
      • Is there a pattern to the way I feel caused by my environment?
      • Is there a pattern to the way I feel caused by my beliefs?
      • Is there a pattern to the way I feel caused by my work?

      Take the time to process your response to these 4 questions. They could become powerful in every aspect of your life.

      3. Notice Your Reactions

        When we become aware of our surroundings, our situation and the way they make us feel we need to learn to notice the impact of these things.

        Not to start moaning at ourselves and berating us for being lazy, thick, stupid, sloppy, etc, just to notice. Above is about noticing the patterns we create, and this skill is about noticing how it impacts on you.

        • How does it make you feel?
        • How does it make you act?
        • How does it make you behave?
        • How does it make you think?

        At this stage you don’t have to think, do, say or act any differently just notice what happens in stressful situations.

        Advertising

        4. Measure and Locate Where You Are Now

          Peter Drucker famously says,[1]

          “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

          Therefore when you start to notice how you feel, act and behave in stressful times and have understood more about the way it impacts on you, you are then in a position to create a benchmark graph.[2]

          5. Be Honest About Your Progress

            In stressful situations, we can find ourselves with our heads down in the proverbial sand, with our hands over our ears yelling “la, la, la, la, la”.

            While as kids, that’s hilarious to watch kids do that, as we grow up it’s a bit of an ice cold slap in the face that not being honest doesn’t fix anything and stops us from changing things. Be honest as you create the above bench mark graph.

            Being honest is a powerful thing. When you’re honest with yourself, you raise self awareness and anyone looking to achieve anything in the 21st century is going to be determined to improve their own self awareness as we are starting to appreciate the power this can have.

            Although Tasha Eurich[3] shares some scary research on this. Tasha Eurich, author of Insight; Why we’ve not as self aware as we think and how seeing ourselves clearly helps us succeed at work and in life says in an interview for Harvard Business Review that “95% of people believe they’re self-aware, however only about 10-15% actually are.” Adding “The joke I always make is that on a good day, 80% of us are lying to ourselves about whether we’re lying to ourselves.”[4]

            6. Be Honest to Your World

              In stressful times, it is not just important to be honest to ourselves, it’s important that you’re honest to those that are in your world. Some find that they can do this in their personal life but wouldn’t dream of saying anything at work; whereas others bottle it all up, with a smile and a lie that says “I’m fine.”

              7. If You Aren’t Fine, Say It

                You don’t have to turn into a moaning black cloud of doom, but being honest helps you and other people.

                Showcasing your own limitations and stress can help other people to see the human that you are. We feel more connected to those that share honestly and are more likely to want to help them and at the very least probably less likely to add more to your work load.

                I worked with someone that was petrified that work would find out how much they were struggling with the work load. This is what the conversation went like (and I’m sharing it so you can ask yourself similar questions):

                Client: “I’m really struggling to hold it together.”

                Me: “Have you told anyone?”

                Client: “I can’t do that, it would be professional suicide. They’d be circling around me ready to pick the bones of my career in seconds.”

                Me: “Do you know that to be true?”

                Client: “It’s not worth the risk to find out.”

                Me: “So if you don’t say something, what are you agreeing to?”

                Client: “Feeling overwhelmed, stressed and about ready to quit.”

                Me: “And are you happy to stay there or would you like to be somewhere else?”

                Client: “Obviously somewhere else, but I can’t see how that’s possible.

                Advertising

                Me: “Are you prepared to explore where you would like to be and how to get there?”

                You can guess the answer! And using the tools below, guess what they discovered?

                They weren’t alone! It was an issue throughout the department and changes were made for everyone. A bit of honesty can go along way!

                8. Take Actions to Change

                  In stressful situations, the human being is pre-programmed to do everything in its power to escape the situation it finds itself in.

                  Fight or flight doesn’t really do this pre-programming justice. We are still alive because since the dawn of our time we’ve been able to adapt, change and escape situations that other species succumb to.

                  The issue is that we also fear change. I get more speaking engagements and corporate coaching gigs because people are struggling with change than possibly any other subject. The fact is while we can appreciate change can help in stressful situations, knowing and doing is not the same thing.

                  Ask yourself what could I change about this situation? (This is not what am I going to do, this is about making suggestions about what you could do.) And if they are the suggestions that have been rattling around in your head for the last few weeks, or keep you awake at night, they are less likely to be useful.

                  Really get in touch with your subconscious (and the good ideas) by asking:

                  “If money, time, skill, health, magic, beliefs or values weren’t factors in this situation what could I do?”

                  This enables your mind to explore some whacky ideas, however as Einstein (may have said) Creativity is intelligence having fun. And this exercise enables your mind to have some fun.

                  9. Don’t Change What You Can’t Change

                    I worked with a large organization that had been through massive change. Everyone had stepped up to the challenge, but everyone was really stressed. Those that were struggling the most kept reminding me that “it hadn’t always been like this”, and “the old way was a lot easier”.

                    Not all change can be controlled. And when we fight it, we can find ourselves escalating stress. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can do is learn to go with the flow.

                    If you don’t “choose” to go with the flow, ask yourself:

                    What are you agreeing to?

                    This questions enables you to see that you are going to get negative emotions, actions, conversations, damaged relationships and even health issues.

                    Change is sometimes dumped on us like a storm clouds contents, you could stand and moan at the storm cloud but it won’t stop you from getting wet.

                    10. Ask Yourself: Are You Creating It?

                      Some of life’s stresses are man made. And I’m not talking about someone else, I’m talking about you.

                      It is an ugly fact that none of us want to look at (so be brave) however have the strength to ask “Am I creating this stress?”

                      Remember to be honest. And let the answers come to you.

                      11. Know that Sh*t Happens

                        First spotted in the 60’s, this has been a famous saying since at least the 80’s, why? Because stuff does just happen.

                        Advertising

                        As humans we are always looking for reason and understanding. “Why did this happen to me?” and we can often find ourselves down a rabbit run looking for ghosts of answers that just don’t exist.

                        Sometimes bad stuff happens. This does not define you. This is not a personal vendetta from a god or unseen deity, seriously sometimes all you can do is accept those 2 words – sh*t happens.

                        12. Control Your Mindset

                          A quick way to find yourself suffering an intenser version of stress is when you try to control it.

                          As a coach, I believe we can get out of situations and move forward, however I also know from the coping skill above that when we try to force the universe to bend in a new way, it can use up a lot of energy concentrating on the wrong things.

                          You can control what you think, you can change your actions, and sometimes the most powerful skill is to accept that this is out of your hands. Self awareness will help you understand the differences and what to do and when.

                          13. Say No More Often

                            We talked about the need to be honest and if you explore this coping mechanism further, you will see that as humans we really want to be liked. We want to get on with our neighbours, or colleagues our friend’s friends. The issue with this in stressful times we really do need to turn around and say things like:

                            • No sorry I can’t help you.
                            • No, now is not a good time.
                            • No, I’m not finding this easy.
                            • No, I can’t do it.

                            The reason we don’t say things like this is because we fear what people think of us. We want to be liked. We don’t want people think we don’t care, which leads me onto the next point.

                            14. Embrace Weakness

                              The above statements are often held in our heads unsaid because we don’t want to appear weak, awkward, incapable and a ton of other negatives. The interesting thing is that what we think people are thinking about us is so often untrue.

                              Take the client above that feared telling their boss they were struggling with their work load. On the contrary to looking weak and incapable, the whole department got a makeover. That’s not weak, that’s powerful.

                              Watch out for the incorrect falsehoods that you let hang out in your head. They are making stressful situations a lot harder!

                              The next time it feels weak to be honest or to say no, ask yourself “Does the way I currently think serve me well?”

                              15. Set Clear Boundaries

                                Boundaries are important to us all. It feels great when we get on holiday and we can do what we like when we like, however left like that for more than a few weeks and things can disintegrate and fall apart.

                                We need boundaries. And at stressful times, boundaries can really help. They enable you to feel safe to be honest and work and think in a way that helps you and they set out what you will tolerate and deal with and what you wont.

                                Remember creating boundaries is a lot like saying no and most of the negative thoughts you are having around boundaries are imaginary too. If you aren’t going to answer work email at 10pm on a Saturday night, don’t.

                                Establish your boundaries, communicate them and stick by them.

                                16. Get Passionate About Something

                                  In stressful times, we can find ourselves living in negative, soul destroying emotions and moods. To the point that we can attempt to numb ourselves from them.

                                  The next time the emotions start to impact on you, think about all of the things that you are passionate about.

                                  No one need know what you are thinking about, so if you find yourself thinking about your dog before your partner, that’s fine.

                                  Get yourself a big old list that makes you smile. Even if the smile doesn’t feel real, your brain is still benefiting. When we get really bogged down in stressful times, it can be hard to believe that we will ever feel good again.

                                  Advertising

                                  We can’t change everything instantly but interestingly (and I find miraculously), we can change our mindset in the click of a finger. Getting passionate could help you do that.

                                  17. Ask for What You Truly Want

                                    If you need time, a hug, a conversation, a massage, a run, a nap, a walk, a helping hand, ask for it.

                                    Of all the fears in my book Fight the Fear, so many come back to the fear of what other people will think of us and I’ve heard so many people tell me that they’ve learnt to ask for what they want.

                                    Stop fearing asking for what you need. Learn to accept that asking for what you want not only helps you navigate through stressful times, it also helps you to achieve more in life too.

                                    18. Ditch the Guilt

                                      Guilt just loves tough times. It will be able to give you a voice in your head that tells you:

                                      • This is all your fault.
                                      • You never get it right.
                                      • You’ve always failed at this.
                                      • You should have taken better care of that.
                                      • You weren’t good enough to get that job.
                                      • If someone had to go, it had to be you.
                                      • No one sticks around you for long.
                                      • This is you, what were you expecting?

                                      That voice is worse than Cruella Deville, Voldemort and Hannibel Lector combined. It’s intent on destroying your determination and happiness.

                                      Have you noticed how some people go through hell and keep going and others suffer far less and give up? The reason they keep going is not some shot of good fortune, it comes down to the what they let happen in their head. So chuck the guilt.

                                      19. Never Hate Stress

                                        It’s no good hating stressful times, it won’t make them magically disappear.

                                        Stress is an essential component to your body. Without some stress between bones, muscles, skin, etc you would be a floppy mess on the floor.

                                        Stress can help us grow and learn so much about ourselves. What could you discover about you from the stress you face right now?

                                        20. Start Moving

                                          When life feels too tough, we can be tempted to hide our heads under the duvet and say “give me a call in 2050, I will come out when its all over”

                                          Trust me, I include myself in that one.

                                          In my personal life, I’ve seen a lot of awful things this year. Don’t try and be super human, as I read in The Last Highlander, when you face the most horrific of times, just concentrate on getting one foot in front of the other.

                                          Go the Extra Mile

                                          In stressful times we need people around us that will go the extra mile, and I’m one of those.

                                          Watch out for the sappers of positivity and remember the basics – sleep, eat, breathe – get those in the right measures especially when you are struggling, you see as Nan so wisely knew we can’t hide from tough times, we can’t make them magically disappear, however like a storm cloud it will eventually go away.

                                          And behind it is left that fresh new smell that says, “Mmm anything is possible”

                                          And do you know what?

                                          It is…

                                          More Coping Skills to Learn

                                          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                                          Reference

                                          [1] Drucker Institute: About Peter Drucker
                                          [2] Mandie Holgate: Bench Mark Graph
                                          [3] Tasha Eurich: Insight
                                          [4] Harvard Business Review: What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It)

                                          More by this author

                                          Mandie Holgate

                                          Coach, International BEST Selling Author, Speaker & Blogger helping thousands around the world.

                                          How to Take Calculated Risk to Achieve Success What Happiness Is and Is Not: The True Meaning of Being Happy Positive and Negative Reinforcement: Which Is More Effective? 13 Tips to Face Your Fears, Grow with Them and Enjoy the Ride How to Make Positive Changes Now (And Start Living a Fulfilling Life)

                                          Trending in Mental Strength

                                          1 30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit 2 How to Practice Meditation for Anxiety and Stress Relief 3 How to Live up to Your Full Potential and Succeed in Life 4 How to Practice Positive Thinking And Change Your Life 5 10 Emotional Regulation Skills for a Healthier Mind

                                          Read Next

                                          Advertising
                                          Advertising
                                          Advertising

                                          Last Updated on September 17, 2019

                                          30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit

                                          30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit

                                          I sat in the quiet, cold, white doctor’s office in Sydney, Australia. There was crinkly loud paper under my legs as I waited for my MRI results. I had been in pain for months and desperately wanted to know what was wrong. The doctor removed his glasses, pointed to the images, and told me I had a compressed disc in my lower back, narrowing of the spinal column and arthritis.

                                          I was 21, living in a foreign country and alone. I burst into tears and all the worst-case scenarios ran through my head. He told me I could never run again, and worse, I would need to stop exercising completely for an indefinite period of time. Sports, activity, exercise, running, being athletic and adventurous – that was my identity and had been for most of my life. I went home and crawled in bed. I felt hopeless, defeated and depressed. My boyfriend at the time, now my husband, came over and tried to cheer me up. But it seemed nothing could do so.

                                          My life as I knew it was over. If I couldn’t be an adventurous athlete, I wasn’t even sure who I was anymore.

                                          This wasn’t the first time I had been told by a doctor never to run again. In fact, it was the fourth. The first was at the age of 16 after my first knee surgery to fix a torn meniscus. The second and third times were in college. Once was my sophomore year when I was training for a marathon. I have always wanted to run a marathon (and still do), but had to stop two weeks short of the finish line as I developed stress fractures in both of my femurs. The other, my junior year, I found myself on the surgery table, removing part of my meniscus. The doctor once again, as others before him, told me that I should never run again. I nodded my head, healed my knee, strengthened my leg in physical therapy and once again hit the pavement and the sports field.

                                          Which leads us back to the doctor’s room in Sydney. This time it wasn’t my knee. It was my back. And the doctor told me if I chose not to listen this time, if I DID continue to run, that I could pinch a nerve, causing the potential for serious problems long term.

                                          Pain I could handle, but the thought of being paralyzed, or worse, was not a risk I was willing to take. Continuing to ignore my doctor’s advice and push through the pain was not an option anymore.

                                          It was time I started taking better care of myself and my body. It was time I learned what self-care looked like.

                                          I hate the term self-care.

                                          I have always cringed at the term self-care and therefore, any advice to follow it. Even today, the word still makes me uncomfortable. Something deep within me feels weak when I hear it; like I’m not tough enough or I can’t handle what life throws at me.

                                          Maybe it’s because I’ve always been an athlete, or because I was raised in a fast paced, entrepreneurial family. At six-years-old, I remember walking behind my dad at the store. He kept a fast pace. I yelled ahead, “Wait up Dad, slow down!”. His reply, “Hurry up, speed up, catch up, run!”

                                          So that’s what I did most of my life. I hurried up, sped up, caught up and ran. If I was in pain, I sucked it up and worked through it. If I was tired, I pushed through. If I was sad or upset, I pushed it aside and moved forward.

                                          In my mind, self-care meant slowing down, not progressing; for those who couldn’t keep up. To use a term from my grandpa, I thought self-care was for ‘sissies.’

                                          But what I didn’t realize until that wake-up call in the doctor’s office was that self-care is the very thing that allows us to do everything we want to do in and with our lives.

                                          It is what gives us the energy, strength and resilience to keep going.

                                          I want to emphasize something I wish someone had told me. Maybe someone did, but I needed them to take me by the shoulders, shake me, look me in the eye and say it.

                                          Self-care isn’t for sissies. Self-care is not for the weak. It is not a luxury. And it is not selfish.

                                          When you don’t take care of yourself, are too hard on your body, or don’t take care of your emotional needs, you are at much higher risk for burnout, a variety of mental health issues including anxiety and depression, physical injury and illness.

                                          Not taking care of yourself will always catch up to you. Sound familiar? Perhaps you’ve had a wake-up call of your own.

                                          Why Is Self-Care Important?

                                          Self-care is quite literally taking care of yourself. It isn’t just about getting a massage. It is any action you take to preserve and improve your health, wellness, happiness and fulfillment.

                                          We’ve all heard the saying, “you can’t pour from an empty cup” or “put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.” These are self-care. You cannot take care of others if you do not take care of yourself first. This takes on a whole new meaning when you also have kids and a family.

                                            self

                                            Self-care is doing what needs to be done so you can be balanced and energized to achieve all that you want out of life. Self-care nourishes your mind, body and spirit and allows you to thrive. It increases your happiness, ability to be successful and the quality of your life and relationships.

                                            Advertising

                                            When I look at it that way, not as something for the weak, but as something to help us live our best lives, then instead of becoming an ‘nice to have’ it becomes an important and essential part of life. In fact, I now know it’s the only way to live my fullest life.

                                              That’s why I’ve pulled together 30 ways to practice self-care so you can live your best life. I’ve got you covered from an integrative wellness approach – mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

                                              How to Practice Self-Care: 30 Ways to Take Care of Yourself

                                              Let’s start with the basics. These are self-care practices you can do daily. Many take very little time or energy, and most can be done in less than five minutes, some in less than one.

                                                1. Breathe

                                                Deep breathing increases circulation by bringing oxygen to your muscles and brain. This increased oxygen content leads to greater energy and healthier muscles, organs and tissues. Breathe deeply more often. What happened when you started to read this? Did you take a deep breath? Great, you’re already practicing self-care.

                                                2. Eat Well

                                                Your body is a machine and food is your fuel. Simple as that. I’ve learned two main things studying diets over the years and working with top health doctors:

                                                First, focus on eating real, whole, nutrient-dense food; avoid processed foods and refined sugars.

                                                Secondly, find what works for you. There are lots of options out there – pale0, Mediterranean, plant-based, you name it.

                                                3. Stay Hydrated

                                                The human body is composed of 50-65% water. Some parts of our bodies, like our brain, heart and lungs, are more than 70%. Drinking water is a simple, effective way to take care of yourself.

                                                Aim to drink eight 8-ounce glasses daily. It takes no extra time, energy and effort, so grab a glass and start hydrating.

                                                4. Sleep

                                                I used to wear it as a badge of honor that I didn’t sleep much. However, increasingly more studies are coming out on the importance of getting enough quality sleep[1] and, more importantly, the consequences when you don’t. Make sleep a priority. Your mind and body will thank you.

                                                5. See Your Doctor

                                                How long have you been putting off making an appointment, tolerating constant pain or dealing with something that just isn’t right?

                                                Most things can be dealt with if they’re caught early – and are much harder to manage if you wait. Grab your phone, schedule an appointment now.

                                                6. Express Gratitude

                                                In order to live a life we love, we must first love the life we live. Research continues to surface on the science and benefits of gratitude.[2]

                                                Being grateful is one of the simplest, yet most powerful, things you can do to take care of yourself. Here’re 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude.

                                                7. Take Supplements

                                                Name what ails you and research or ask your doctor what vitamins, minerals, or herbs can support your health and well-being. For example, those with a B-12 deficiency are much more likely to experience anxiety and Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to all sorts of health problems.

                                                I take turmeric/curcumin to reduce inflammation,[3] and B2 and magnesium supplements recommended by my neurologist for hormonal migraines.

                                                Always make sure to check the quality and efficacy.

                                                8. Hug Your Kid, Spouse or Pet

                                                Hugging boosts your oxytocin levels (the love hormone), increases serotonin (elevates mood and creates happiness), strengthens the immune system, boosts self-esteem, lowers blood pressure, balances the nervous system and releases tension. Only a few seconds can put you in a positive mood.

                                                  9. Meditate

                                                  Yep, you knew this was coming, didn’t you? Check out how to meditate here . And, if you’re one of those people who think you can’t meditate (I feel you, I was one of you!), no more excuses. Try it.

                                                  10. Get Bodywork

                                                  I said that massage wasn’t the only form of self-care, but it is a good one!

                                                  Advertising

                                                  Bodywork is a staple of my self-care routine. Our bodies store emotional tension in ways that we don’t even realize, and bodywork allows us to release that tension.

                                                  Options include chiropractic, stretching, cranial-sacral therapy, myofascial release work, osteopathy and reflexology.

                                                  11. Take a Hike

                                                  Get the blood flowing. We all know the benefits of exercise. This might be a walk, run, hike, trip to the gym, yoga or stretching. Whatever you do, get your blood and body moving.

                                                  Feel like you don’t have time? Try this short, 4-minute workout:

                                                  12. Spend Time with Those You Love

                                                  Schedule a date night with your partner, a special day with your kiddo or happy hour with your BFF. We are biologically hardwired for relationships and connection.

                                                  Studies prove that people who socialize often have higher levels of happiness. This doesn’t have to be face-to-face; sometimes a phone call is all you need (and can fit in!).

                                                  13. Take a Vacation (or a Staycation)

                                                  More than 50% of Americans don’t use all of their vacation days. Take time off away from the routine of life. Make time to have fun, recover and reenergize.

                                                  14. Do Something Just for Fun

                                                  When was the last time you did something because it was fun or gave you joy? Not because it had a tangible benefit, purpose or ROI?

                                                  Crank up the music and dance. Laugh with your kids. Head to the bowling alley. Play a game. Write. Buy flowers. Follow your passions. Attend a fun event.

                                                  The real ROI? A better, more energized, happier self.

                                                  15. Treat Yourself and Your Body

                                                  When you look good, you feel good.

                                                  Get a haircut, have your nails done, enjoy a facial, manicure or pedicure. When we take care of how we look physically, we feel better emotionally.

                                                  16. Spend Time in Nature

                                                  Studies have shown spending time in nature has a wide range of health benefits including lowering your stress hormone levels.[4]

                                                  Get outside. Head to the forest, hit the beach or take a hike. Walking barefoot and ‘grounding’ can be especially healing.

                                                    17. Eliminate Toxicity and Negativity

                                                    Make a conscious effort to hang out with people who feed your soul and make you feel energized and alive. Eliminate or reduce the amount of time you spend with people and situations that drain you or leave you feeling exhausted.

                                                    Surround yourself with love, encouragement and positive energy.

                                                    18. Take a Bath

                                                    This is a simple and inexpensive way to take care of yourself.

                                                    Add in a little Epsom Salts, essential oils or that bath bomb you have lying around. Light a candle, sit back, relax and unwind.

                                                    19. Practice Self-Reflection

                                                    Self-reflection is about taking a step back and reflecting on your life, behavior and beliefs.

                                                    Take time regularly to hop off the hamster wheel of life. Think about what’s working and what’s not, acknowledge your wins and successes; identify what to keep and what needs to change.

                                                    Try journaling or check out tips for self-reflection here: How Self-Reflection Gives You a Happier and More Successful Life

                                                    20. Feed Your Mind

                                                    Learn something new! As humans, we have a need to use our full cognitive capacity. We are here to grow and evolve and learning is a huge piece of us feeling energized and alive.

                                                    Advertising

                                                    Take a class or online course. Read a book. Listen to a podcast.

                                                    21. Lend a Hand

                                                    We also have a need for significance, contribution and making a difference. Among many other benefits , volunteering has been shown to help people feel healthier and happier.

                                                    22. Unpack your Baggage

                                                    Self-care is about taking care of your whole self. Often this means dealing with emotional trauma, past events or limiting beliefs.

                                                    See a therapist. Talk to a coach. Have the conversation you need to have with that person you’ve been angry with for decades. Find a way to move forward.

                                                    23. Be Adventurous

                                                    Get outside your comfort zone. Be brave. Challenge yourself.

                                                    Whether that be a backpacking trip, trying a new activity, or pushing yourself physically, mentally or emotionally, you’ll feel proud, confident and strong.

                                                    24. Tidy up!

                                                    There’s a reason Marie Kondo has become a sensation. When we seek minimization in our homes, schedules, and lives, we feel more at ease and less stressed.

                                                    Try simplifying one area of your life and experience a new level of peace. Have a read on Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, it may inspire you a lot!

                                                    25. Feed Your Spirit

                                                    How are you feeding your soul? This can be anything that relates to you feeling inspiration which means, ‘in spirit’.

                                                    Connect with what makes you feel close to something deeper, bigger, higher – or makes you feel more connected to yourself. This might include meditation, spiritual or religious study.

                                                    26. Get Creative

                                                    We all have a need to grow, use our creativity and express ourselves fully. Find your creative outlet. Paint, dance or take photos.

                                                    Not artistically creative? Ask questions, problem-solve or build something.

                                                    One of my daughters loves building. When she ideates, draws up plans and brings them to life, she is noticeably happier and more confident.

                                                    27. Be True to Yourself

                                                    Self-awareness and being true to yourself are essential to living a happy, fulfilled and successful life; therefore, these are critical elements of self-care.

                                                    Listen to your inner voice. Identify what you need. When we are out of alignment with ourselves, we are more stressed, overwhelmed and at higher risk for health issues.

                                                    Here are 11 ways to be true to you: How To Be True To You When Life Pulls You Off Track

                                                      28. Set Boundaries

                                                      This is important to healthy relationships, a strong sense of self-esteem and healthy life. You must know what you will and won’t accept.

                                                      Identify where energy is leaking out from your life. If you continue to give when you have nothing to give or say ‘yes’ when you mean ‘no’, you will continue to suffer.

                                                      Know, acknowledge and honor your limits and boundaries – physically and emotionally.

                                                      29. Escape

                                                      While avoidance and numbing can be detrimental, a little escape can help recharge your batteries.

                                                      So watch that reality TV show without guilt, catch the latest movie, delve into that novel, or head to the museum. What transports you and completely allows you to shut off?

                                                      30. Be Nice to Yourself

                                                      Be kind, patient and understanding. Treat yourself like you would a close friend. Speak to yourself as you would someone you love.

                                                      Advertising

                                                      You are enough. You are doing enough.

                                                      Give yourself a break, a little more love and a lot more compassion.

                                                      You are doing a great job – time to tell yourself that.

                                                      Start Taking Care of Yourself Now!

                                                      Now you have 30 ways to take care of yourself! However, you may still have nagging thoughts in the back of your head about why you can’t.

                                                      Ditch Your Excuses

                                                      Here are the most common excuses I hear with a strategy to help:

                                                      I don’t have time for it.

                                                      How many hours per day do you spend watching TV or on social media? Some studies show that the average adult spends over four hours watching TV and over two on social media. What if you took just half that to take care of yourself? Or 1/10th?! We all have the same 24 hours in a day.

                                                      It’s what you choose to do with that time that counts. Many of the suggestions above require no time at all. Take a breath, drink an extra glass of water, speak nicely to yourself, grab an apple.

                                                      I don’t need it.

                                                      Trust me, if you don’t take care of yourself now, you’re going to get that wake-up call one day, if you haven’t already.

                                                      I guarantee it’s going to take a lot more time and energy to fix what’s broken than to take care of it along the way. You have a responsibility to do this for yourself.

                                                      I’m too tired.

                                                      Great! Take a nap. Then you’ve done your self-care for the day. No joke.

                                                      Too often when we are tired, we drink coffee, reach for a sugary snack or find some other way to distract ourselves.

                                                      Self-care is different from day to day. Some days it will be harder than others. Each of the items on the list are meant to GIVE you energy, not take it away. You’ll be amazed at how much more energized and awake you feel after one of these practices.

                                                      It‘s just too hard.

                                                      One big reason people don’t get started is because they think it’s going to be hard. Don’t fall into this trap and do nothing at all.

                                                      Choose something that feels simple and easy to do – and do it. There is no step too small.

                                                      Know Your Motivation

                                                      It’s not the action of self-care that’s most important. It’s about what you get by taking care of yourself.

                                                      What is the real value or importance of self-care in your life?

                                                      To be a better mom, look good, be healthier, have more energy, reduce your stress levels, feel better, see your grandkids graduate from college, get that promotion, sustain the business you’re building, perform at your very best?

                                                      Know your why so you can tap into the motivation for taking care of yourself. If you’re doing this because you ‘should’, it just won’t happen or be sustainable. You must do this because you see value, purpose and benefits at some level. What are those for you?

                                                      Final Thoughts

                                                      “Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to life” – Jim Rohn

                                                      Self-care is about doing what makes you feel good – mind, body and spirit.

                                                      If you remember only one thing:

                                                      Do more of what makes you feel good, brings you energy and joy and do less of what doesn’t.

                                                      Had I taken better care of myself in my late teens and my early twenties, I might have avoided two knee surgeries, stress fractures and arthritis. Had I taken better care of myself in my thirties, perhaps I could have avoided anxiety and a near breakdown . But that was my journey and it led me here. And I have to say, I’m pretty happy where here is.

                                                      So now, in my forties, while I still may cringe at the term, I pay attention to and practice self-care. And I often wonder if maybe, just maybe, I continue to take good care of myself, I may just be able to run that marathon one day after all.

                                                      More About Practicing Self-Care

                                                      Featured photo credit: Samantha Gades via unsplash.com

                                                      Reference

                                                      Read Next