These are truly stressful times. 2020. My word! Stressful doesn’t even come close to how we all will remember this year. The pressure of caring for ourselves and worrying about our loved ones grows as quickly as the pile of unpaid bills. We begin to feel anxious, tired, stressed, and sometimes depressed. We ask ourselves how will we be able to get out of this seemingly endless situation. Our first instinct is to take care of others and forget ourselves. However, similar to airplane emergency oxygen masks, where the instructions lead you to secure your own mask prior to helping others, you are not going to be much help for your loved ones unless you do something for yourself first.
This theory has proven itself over and over again. The key to stress reduction is the ability to allow ourselves to indulge in small, selfish, necessary pleasures. These stress reducers need not cost anything, and it’s not as selfish as it seems, either.
These actions are actually about self-loving kindness.
The small act of taking care of oneself, on a daily basis, not only makes us feel better about life and ourselves in general, but it also empowers and enables us to perform other tasks more effectively and with more passion. The biggest reason this self-loving kindness is essential is that it reminds us not to neglect ourselves. I have found that so much of my own anxiety and self-doubt was when I was feeling insecure and neglected. When I remember to take care of myself, this feeling goes away. I think it is because I am taking control of what I can actually do something about.
What a win/win situation, right?
Small acts of self-loving kindness include:
• Taking one day a week to go to bed earlier or to sleep in, even if only for an additional 15 minutes
• Taking a short, brisk walk as often as possible, actually absorbing and appreciating your surroundings
• Petting a beloved animal for a full 5 minutes
• Sitting outside, or by the window, with a steaming cup of something, watching the world go by and feeling good about having stepped off its whirlwind for a full 10 minutes
• Calling a loved one just to say hello, making sure you only discuss happy things
• Cooking a healthy dinner with family or friends and making it a joy, not a chore
• Watching a situation comedy just for the laugh of it
•Taking a longer than usual bath or shower, maybe with some music playing, and pampering yourself with a treatment that will invigorate, smooth, and soothe your skin and body. We have just the pampering products you need for this treat here!
More pricey but obviously fantastic stress reducers are:
• Facials and massages. Even with Covid restrictions you can enjoy this welcome bit of relaxing and pampering.
•Shopping trips are not what they used to be, but strolling through a small town and shopping from the locals feels cozy and supports small business.
•Going to the movies and the theater are a no-go for now, but remember to indulge in a fun afternoon once they are open. Museums are a perfect way to “culture up” and “wind down”.
• Lunch or dinner out with one close family member or friend. Even dining outside when it’s chilly out makes for a fun shared experience.
No matter which small pleasure we choose to indulge in, the end result will be the same.
Taking care of oneself encourages feelings of self-worth, self-renewal, self-awareness, and self-love that will in turn translate to a better, more productive, and ready to face anything attitude.
The world right now with its never-ending stream of stuff will constantly be thrown at us without explanation or warning, and there is not much that can be done with the majority of it all.
Our reactions to it, however, are the only thing we have control of. If we allow ourselves the selfish little moments along the way, we will all face our challenges with a lot less stress.