Why self-care is more important that ever right now.
No matter what your beliefs are, it's impossible to avoid seeing that this country is in the middle of some crazier than usual bullsh*t.
More than ever it's imperative to speak up, step up and create positive change. There are so many people, issues and causes that need are important and need our attention!
But, it's really easy to get sucked into a sinkhole of anxiety, frustration and anger, and while sometimes those feelings can ultimately inspire action and change, they need to be balanced with some radical self-care or they will burn you out.
If we are going to effectively serve people, issues and causes that need us then we must serve ourselves as well, and that means putting some radical self-care habits into place.
Think about how much more effective you are when you feel mentally and physically strong and healthy. We are more present, focused and intentional when we're calm, nourished and well-rested. And guess what? It's possible to be all of those things even in the midst of so much turbulence.
Here are a few ways you can take care of yourself even as you show up for positive change.
For starters, question the stressful thoughts that are causing you pain. You have 2 choices when you are trying to effect change of any kind. You can do it from a place of peace or you can do it from a place of stress. It's empowering to recognize that we are totally in charge of how stressed we are. In fact it's never a circumstance that keeps us in stress; it's always our thoughts about that circumstance. Often we can't change circumstances or situations but we can learn to change our thoughts. There are multiple ways to do this. Some are simple like telling yourself "That's not helpful right now" when stressful thoughts pop up. Others take more time but open you up to a myriad of different ways to look at and learn from your stressful thoughts and beliefs. I just spent the day at a workshop with Byron Katie who teaches a method of self-inquiry called The Work. This is a way of experiencing the opposite of what you originally believed and it can be incredibly powerful. The Work consists of four questions and 3 "turnarounds".
The four questions are:
1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know that it's true?
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
4. Who would you be without the thought?
The turnarounds involve turning the original thought around to the self, the opposite and the other and seeing how they are as true or truer. So if my original thought was "The world is falling apart." I could turn it around to "The world isn't falling apart", "The world is coming together" and "I am (or my thinking is) falling apart." Suddenly there is space between me and my stress. There is room to breathe.
And speaking of breathing, pausing and taking 3 deep breaths activates the parasympathetic nervous system, aka the part of your brain that helps calm you down. This is the easiest and quickest way to start good self-care and you can do it anyplace, anytime, anywhere.
Another good tip is to stay hydrated. Obviously water won't erase your extra stressors but it can help you be physically more equipped to deal with them. When you are dehydrated it means extra stress on your body, which means more cortisol - and if you are already in stress mode you don't need any more of that! It also means that your heart rate is increased, you're breathing more heavily and therefore getting dehydrated more quickly. Basically, it can be a vicious circle: Stress can cause dehydration and dehydration can cause stress. Bottom line: get a water bottle and keep refilling it. Start with the 8x8 plan (8 8oz glasses a day) and go from there.
What do you do for yourself when you're in a stress-spiral? What are your go-to assists? Feel free to comment below!