Self-Care as a Means to Reduce Stress

by Tiffany Markelz, LCSW, CADC

Self-care during stressful times can help with combating some of the impacts stress has on our bodies. Self-care can also be a preventive effort, as engaging in regular practices to reduce stress can help us manage our normal day-to-day life more effectively. Using self-care to be preventive does not mean that you will not feel stress. It means a reduced experience during a stressful time. Stress reduction and self-care go hand in hand.

Stress is something we all have felt at one time or another. Stress is a response to the demands in our lives. If you were to pause reading, I’m guessing you could name a few things that are demanding your time, energy and/or attention right at this moment.  If the demands at any given moment exceed our resources to deal with the, then stress can have a negative impact our bodies and minds such as but not limited to headaches, fatigue, forgetfulness, racing thoughts, depression, anxiety, and muscle tension. At other moments, stress can have a positive impact in our lives such as giving us a boost in productivity, concentration, and be a helpful push to reach your fullest potential.

Stress reduction is helpful no matter what time of year it is. Stress can feel different for a variety of people which also means there are different ways to manage stress. To properly manage your stress levels, you should acknowledge what stressors you have, take measures to prevent those stressors, and determine what helps you work through your stress.

Here are some self-care ideas:

  1. Exercise
  2. Smile and have a good laugh
  3. Get plenty of rest
  4. Eat balanced meals and Reduce caffeine intake
  5. Take deep breaths such as squared breathing (Breath in for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, breath out for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4; repeat)
  6. Mediate
  7. Focus on the present moment
  8. Journal
  9.  Participate in a hobby
  10. Listen to music

If you are already feeling stressed, here are a few tips:

  1. Acknowledge your feelings and don’t force yourself to be happy just because it is the expectation set by others.
  2. Reach out to someone if you are feeling lonely.
  3. Be realistic about your limitations and what you can accomplish, life does not have to be perfect.
  4. Plan ahead when shopping and stick to a budget
  5. Don’t abandon healthy habits like going to the gym.
  6. Learn to say no and take a breather, it is ok to relax!  

Remember to be kind to yourself and focus on what brings you joy!

*Tiffany sees clients out of the Sandwich office*