Managing stress and anxiety – top five tips for self-care
Stress, anxiety and worry are all part of everyday life. Sometimes, however, they can become overwhelming, and we can get stuck in negative thought patterns or suffer painful physical symptoms. Counselling can really help you to work through what is causing the issues for you as an individual, and there are also lots of ways that you can help yourself alongside it. Your wellbeing should be as much a part of your daily routine as brushing your teeth, but we all get side-tracked with work and chores, or just struggle to prioritise the things that would actually be helpful. So get your self-care regime on the agenda today with these helpful hints and tips for putting yourself first for a change!
Tips for self-care
- Tip 1: Get gut-healthy
According to some sources, up to 90% of your serotonin is produced in your stomach. Serotonin is the feel-good chemical that our body produces when we are happy. So we cannot physically be happy unless we are looking after our guts. This means making sure we have a good, balanced diet, and a great tip is to try some fermented foods that help your gut’s bacteria to flourish. Try foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, or how about a probiotic yoghurt?
- Tip 2: Get active
Many of us are now aware of the link between physical and mental health. When you exercise, chemicals like endorphins are released, which give you a positive boost. You will also feel better about yourself for being active. If going to the gym feels too much, you could start by trying some of the free online exercise videos on Youtube and other platforms. Or take up a regular active practice such as Qi Gong, which is a form of Tai Chi that is particularly good for stress relief.
- Tip 3: For good sleep, talk a walk
Yes, we all know that getting a good night’s sleep is important, but you know what – it really is! If you are finding it difficult to sleep there are loads of helpful hints and tips online that you can use. The best advice I have found recently is to take a regular walk every morning. Apparently, this will improve your bodily rhythms, and help you to create melatonin, which is used for getting you off to sleep. I’ve already had one client go from staying up until 3 am every night to jogging every day at 7 am and getting to sleep by 10.30 pm. This one really works!
- Tip 4: Mindfulness
A lot has been said about mindfulness over the past couple of years, and I know a few people who have tried a couple of meditations and decided that they just can’t do it. What I would say, though, is becoming more mindful is like a muscle: you have to build it up. It takes practice, but not too much. Try downloading an app and doing a regular mindful practice for 5-10 minutes a day. You’ll be amazed how your sense of your mind starts to change. The key to it all is to stop trying to ignore your thoughts, and instead, just acknowledge them and let them go if they are not useful right now. You are not your thoughts: you can choose whether they are helpful or important, and you can be much more present and grounded when you start to live mindfully.
- Tip 5: Be thankful
Starting a regular gratitude practice can help you to start the day off on a positive note. Have a notebook by the side of your bed, and when you wake up each day, think of three things you are thankful for. It could be a person, an animal, the weather, or your breakfast. Really think about the item: how does it smell? What do they say to you? Visualise all the good things about what you are thankful for, and this can generate the same hormones to be released as if you were getting the most amazingly perfect cuddle.
So there you have it – my top five self-care tips. Our bodies are wonderful things, and sometimes we can forget that the physical and the emotional are all linked and intertwined. By looking after ourselves the same way we would want to look after a loved one, we can greatly decrease our stress levels and bring some balance back into our lives. Best wishes and good luck with your new self-care routine.
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