We’re all stressed, running from left to right all day, trying to get everything done, and that’s why we need some time for ourselves. I don’t need to tell you how bad stress is for your health – the media has already done a great job on scaring us about that! It raises your blood pressure, increases your chances of cardiac problems, lowers your immunity, causes headaches, upsets your stomach, alters your sleep, and a bunch of other things that are really really bad. However, in this post I want to talk more about the psychological effects of stress because they are more immediate and are therefore altered faster by altering our stress levels.
So relax, meditate, nap, play tennis, walk your dog, gaze at the stars… do whatever works for you! But it is important to take the time to do it. However, stress is not always seen as negative. In this talk:
Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist, argues that stress is what actually makes us happier. Well, maybe, sometimes. I do believe that stress needs to be controlled in order to be beneficent to us, and that we need to be stressed because we are nervous and excited about good news and positive aspects of our lives. That’s called EUstress, as opposed to DIStress. Eustress is the type of stress that professional athletes have before participating in the Olympics, it’s the stress that you have before doing a well-prepared presentation in front of a crowd, and it’s the stress that I used to get before my med school exams. You know you’ve given it a lot, but it’s nerve-wracking nevertheless!
I have first learned the word eustress in my gym class in high school. Our teacher used to say that eustress is good for us, that it means that we are are ready and anticipate a difficult yet rewarding experience (performing in sports)… He always said that before evaluating us, and I used to hate the word “eustress” because I hated gym back then.
My point, however, is about the other kind of stress: distress. Here are a few tricks that you can use to leave the day behind and take time for yourself. Those are just ideas that have been proven to work, but we are all different so maybe you have more suggestions? I’d love to hear them! So how do you practice self-care? I.e. how do you make yourself feel better?
- Go sit outside or lie down in the grass and watch the surroundings: clouds, kids playing, friends chatting, birds,…
- Meditate mindfully. For a more complete description on how to do this go to my post Practice Mindfulness.
- Be selfish! Go shopping, treat yourself to a nice dinner, go golfing, or get a massage or a mani/pedi that you have been meaning to find time for.
- Go for a walk, stretch, take deep breaths.
- Go for a jog with your dog. If you don’t have a dog, adopt one!
- De-clutter, re-organize or clean your house.
- Do some gardening.
- Help someone, smile at a stranger,
- Have a chat, in person or over the phone, with someone you love. Friends, family, lover, wife, or your child. You’d be surprised how happy people are to hear your voice if it’s been a while 🙂
- Plan your next little vacation; a weekend or one-day getaway to leave all responsibilities and chores behind. Go hiking with your partner, do a yoga weekend retreat, take a cooking lesson with your friends. The possibilities are endless. And if you have questions, I know all about cooking lessons and cooking schools for pleasure in and around Montreal. In fact, I am starting an 8 week cooking lesson 1x/week next Tuesday. It’s going to be my little de-stress activity. I’m so excited!!
- Explore your city: go to a museum, window-shop downtown, stop at a little coffee shop terrasse for a latte, take a relaxing walk through your city park…
And since I could not have said it better than some experts in TED talks, I will leave you with a few of my favorite inspiring speeches about self-care:
Don’t forget: It’s your life, and it’s only up to you to make the best out of it! To have some stress in life is important, but your well-being comes first. Always.
Happy relaxing ❤