Self-care during stressful times is an important skill to have when life is handing you lemons. Learning to cope during good times will help immensely when things go south…like they do.
When my life took a sudden turn south, I was unprepared. It took me several years to start putting the pieces back together. Let me help you get started before you need the help.
Hello and welcome to Fearlessly Holistic.
My name is Irma and I want to share my journey to improved health by eating whole foods, moving my body and eliminating stress as much as possible.
It is my hope to inspire you to make daily changes. Why? Because eating fresh, seasonal food and getting some sunshine is the best way to increase longevity. But you do not want just a long life. You want a quality long life.
My blog posts are my opinion and the results of things that I have tried that either worked for me or didn’t. My opinions are for informational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. Medical advice should always be obtained from a qualified medical professional for any health conditions or symptoms associated with them. As well, there may be affiliate links in this post. Read more here.
Must I plan For The Bad Times?
It’s a good idea to. So often the situations that cause the most stress are the ones we weren’t expecting, such as:
- Job loss
- Death of someone close
- Environmental disasters, like forest fires, floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes
- Suddenly having to move for work or family
- Pandemics – because no one saw Covid-19 coming!
If you are expecting your job to change, you can shift your thinking from being worried or fearful to that of excitement at new possibilities.
But when you are caught off-guard, everything in your life can spiral quickly.
You may suddenly realize that you haven’t shopped for food in a couple of weeks and are now relying on drive-thru at 10 p.m. because you’re starving.
It took me a while to realize how far I had shifted from my normal routine. My stressors were:
- I had a death in my family.
- Work was stone-walling me as I tried to advance myself.
- Every time I told friends how I wanted to change my life they basically told me I was an uncaring parent. Sigh.
- I changed cities and jobs to give myself a chance at a new career
- I made my kid change cities and schools. That was a rough first year.
FYI, I talked to my daughter about the plans that I had and she thought that I should have gone for it! Just goes to show who your friends really are.
The following list are the tools that I used to dig myself out of massive stress.
It took a long time to get from there to here, and I still have a long way to go.
But my health, both physical and mental, improves every time I do some self-care. By far the biggest improvements happen when I increase positive self-talk.
Negative self-talk happens a lot when we are highly stressed. Trying to juggle a lot of balls means that we will drop some. It just happens.
And this is when we tend to beat ourselves up the most.
Tools For Personal Growth
Self-care is not just about activities, exercise, and bubble baths. Sometimes, it is about how you show up for yourself and talk to yourself.
If you find that most of your thoughts about yourself and your success are negative or toxic, then your self-care routine needs to include positive self-talk and the simple act of being kinder to yourself.
Positive Self-Talk in the Mirror
Thank goodness for Louise Hay! I learned how to do this from Louise, and you can grab her book from Hay House Publishers. I admit that I was truly shocked at how effective this was for improving my outlook.
It might seem silly, but it really has an amazing impact on how you feel about yourself.
Try practicing self-talk while looking in the mirror, as if you are telling yourself everything you love and appreciate about yourself.
And yes, this requires actually looking into a mirror and talking to yourself.
It might help at first to write things down you want to say, so you aren’t standing in front of a mirror just feeling awkward trying to talk to yourself.
What should you say? Any affirmations to feel good about yourself. When creating affirmations, choose how you want to feel in the present tense.
Here are some affirmation ideas:
- I am strong and capable.
- The world may be harsh, but I always prosper.
- My life is full of abundance
- Good luck always finds me
- This too shall pass
It can also be specific to something you are struggling with, or just a little boost of confidence.
Keep a Journal of Positive Thoughts
You can never go wrong with journaling! I encourage everyone who is at the crossroads of life to do some journaling. Get stuff out of your head and onto paper.
For now though, start writing in your journal in a more positive way, focusing on only good things to say about yourself. Even if you made a mistake or you are disappointed by something, just put a positive spin on it.
Over time, you will learn how you can make just about anything positive.
Write Down Daily Affirmations
Another excellent self-care activity for positive self-talk is to write affirmations.
Similar to what you say during mirror work, these will be short statements or sentences that are positive and help boost your mood and confidence. Different people use them for different things, from helping to reduce anxiety and stress, to boosting your self-confidence.
Affirmations are a great way to practice self-care on a daily basis, and only take a couple minutes to do.
Practice Gratitude for Self-Care
Gratitude is a wonderful practice that everyone should be doing on a daily basis.
If you find you aren’t showing gratitude enough, you can do it as part of your daily self-care routine.
Get out your journal, notebook, or just a document on your computer, and try to write 5-10 things you are grateful for each and every day. Do this for 30 days and feel better quicker.
Self-Care During Grief
Everyone goes through loss in their life, whether it is a loved one, a job, a home, or divorce. These are all opportunities to grieve, but many people can’t or don’t take the time.
Tragedy has a way of flipping your life upside down, causing you to have doubts, and becoming overwhelmed in sadness and grief.
This is all completely normal, but it is also important to continue practicing self-care during this time, even if it looks much different than before tragedy struck.
Allow Yourself Time to Grieve
There is no time limit on grief.
If you look at the five stages of grief, there are times when you will go back and forth between stages.
If you are grieving multiple tragedies, you may be in all 5 stages at the same time.
Give yourself the time and freedom to grieve how you want, and for as long as you need to.
It is not uncommon to feel like you want to rush through this and “get back to normal”, but unfortunately, it is not something you can control.
The best form of self-care you can give yourself during this time is to give your self patience and time for your grief.
Nobody should ever tell you to hurry up or “get over it”.
Now might be a good time to separate yourself from people who make these types of demands on you.
Move Your Body in Gentle and Enjoyable Ways
When it comes time to move on to the next stage of the grieving process, start moving your body.
This is a great way to practice some self-care, even when you don’t feel like you can get back to your normal life just yet.
Try to find very gentle ways to move your body.
Even if that just means going for a 10 minute walk around your neighborhood. Or doing a stretching routine at home.
If you feel up to it, it might help to walk or exercise with other loved ones, though this self-care is for you. So, if you prefer doing it alone, please do.
Schedule Time with Your Support System
Think of the people in your support system who understand your grief and won’t judge you.
Schedule more time with these people as part of your self-care during this time. Think of the people you feel the most comfortable with in difficult times.
It might be a sibling or parent, best friend, or even neighbor who always puts you at east. These are your best support system during this time.
Find Ways to Nurture Your Emotional and Mental Health
This is also a good idea to really focus on your emotional health, and continue nurturing it.
Treat yourself with kindness, and only choose self-care activities that help to give you grace during this time.
It might mean:
- Writing in a journal
- Taking some time off work to rest your mind
- Watching your favorite shows on Netflix
- A nighttime ritual where you just sit for a few minutes and cry about your grief.
There is nothing wrong with that. Do what you intuitively need to do.
Self-Awareness for Personal Growth
Personal growth is all about making actions that will help to improve your life.
This might include:
- Expanding your skills
- Learning something new
- Removing toxic people from your life
- Setting a new budget
- Creating professional goals.
It is also a great idea to add self-care activities that also help with your personal growth.
Read a Bit Every Day
Reading is a big part of your personal development journey, whether you are learning something new or reading more self-help books.
You can also make this a part of your daily self-care routine.
Think of how often or how much you want to read, and try to incorporate it into your self-care routine.
This might mean reading a chapter every night before bed, or giving yourself 20-30 minutes a day for reading.
Your mind retains the words it sees on the page. If you can, focus on the sentences with positive and motivating words.
Daily Gratitude in Your Journal
If you have a journal, that is a great way to work on personal growth and also use for self-care at the same time.
Consider committing to a 30 day challenge of writing what you’re grateful for.
Try to choose 5-10 things you are thankful for in your life every day in your journal, whether you write this down in the morning or in the evening.
Gratitude can be big or small, something that happens every day, or a really nice thing someone did for you.
You can be grateful for people in your life, your job, your home, your neighbor who always waves hello, or your pets who bring you unconditional love.
As small as your morning cup of coffee, or as big as a loan you received to start your business.
Make Time for Self-Reflection
In order to have good personal growth in your life, you first need to know exactly where you are doing the growing.
There are so many different ways to improve your life. Just a few minutes of self-reflection a day really helps you see where you’re at and where you want to start.
Start by writing everything you can about your life right now.
- What you do for work,
- How you spend your free time,
- Things that motivated you to make the different decisions in your life.
Then write about where you want to go or who you want to be. Your goals and dreams, aspirations, what you hope to achieve.
Hint: look at what you have and its opposite. For example, if you hate your job, your goal could be discovering your true passions.
This simple writing practice helps you to start reflecting on your life and really pinpointing what you hope to improve with your self-care routine and beyond.
Healthy Eating for Self-Care
Self-care is all about doing something intentionally for your physical, emotional, and mental health.
This includes eating nutrient-dense foods and focusing on proper nutrition.
It is not about dieting or restrictive eating, as that is the opposite of doing something that will make you happier and healthier. Instead, you just want to focus on the nutrient aspect of healthy eating.
Start Your Day Off with a Glass of Water
After sleeping for 7 or more hours, your body is extremely dehydrated. You haven’t had any water all night, which is why you often wake up with dry mouth and very low energy. The best thing you can do for yourself when you wake up is to have some water.
Many people like having lukewarm or warm water in the morning as it is less of a shock to the system.
Go ahead and enjoy your ice cold water if you prefer.
Some people prefer to add some fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to their morning drink of water. They do this as a digestive aid. You can skip this if you don’t want to do it.
Try to make this a habit, and it becomes a really simple way to practice self-care right when you wake up.
Eat Your Fruits and Veggies
A simple way to eat healthier as part of your self-care journey is to begin adding more fruits and veggies to your meals.
Ideally, go for fresh in-season vegetables or fruits which are more nutritious due to less time traveling the world.
This has nothing to do with being on a diet, but the nutrients will help improve your mood, even if just a bit.
Add In Healthy Fats
Here you are trying to focus on more of a balance of nutrients. Our brain and cells are primarily made up of fat, so eating quality fats feeds your brain.
This does not mean eating sticks of butter or pounds of bacon!
Related Post: 24 Healthy Fat Foods
- If you eat eggs for breakfast, then keep eating your eggs, but cook them in real butter.
- Add cubed avocado to salads.
- Make tuna or chicken salad with a clean or, better yet, homemade mayonnaise.
Read more about the role of fat and healthy living.
Keep Experimenting with Your Healthy Eating
Healthy eating is not going to happen overnight.
It is the small changes you make along the way that will have the largest impact on your life. Everyone can start eating healthier for your physical and mental health.
Exercise for Self-Care
As you know, self-care is not only wonderful for your mental health, but your physical health as well. Many people have found that as part of their daily self-care routine, they add some type of movement.
Here are some things to understand about exercise and your self-care routine.
How Exercise is Good for Your Self-Care
For some people, their daily workout is something they dread, but try to power through.
This can be because you have the wrong motivation for exercise.
More likely, it is because your choice of exercise is “unnatural”.
Humans did not evolve from going to a gym or doing 60 minutes of cardio daily.
We evolved from:
- Occasionally sprinting (to escape predators)
- Lifting heavy things, like when we build a shelter
If we use our intuition to choose ways to exercise, it can also be an excellent form of self-care.
Gentle Exercises to Start With
Start slow with very gentle exercises that are going to be enjoyable for you and simple start moving your body. This might be:
- A morning stretching routine
- Going for a quick walk.
- Tai Chi
Where you are right now with your fitness journey will determine what a gentle exercise is for you.
It should be something that makes you feel good both during the exercise, and it’s over, where you feel better after than before.
Gradually Adding to Your Exercise Routine
It is okay to start small, with just 15-20 minutes a day of exercise, but if you want to add more to it, do so gradually.
This helps it stay as part of your self-care routine, and doesn’t turn into something you no longer enjoy.
This is especially important if you are new to working out. Easy additions to your routine could be:
- Squats – exercising thighs, calves, and abs in one go
- Heel raises – improves ankle strength and stability, aids in balance, and builds your calves
- Chin ups/pull ups – these exercises work your core and all of your upper body muscles, especially your back muscles
These three additions basically improve the overall strength of your whole body. No other exercise is required to stay in good shape.
Exercise also improves bone density, for less breakage in later years, as well as keeping your joints flexible.
Some Tips for Keeping it Fun and Healthy
In order to make sure your exercise is being used for self-care, here are some tips to keep it fun but also healthy:
Exercise with friends or loved ones.
There is no reason why self-care has to be a solo activity!
If you prefer to exercise with other people, go for a bike ride with friends or have a living room dance party with your kids.
Skip your scheduled workout and try something new.
Even if you’re used to doing the same workout routine every morning, it can be a good idea to mix it up a little. Throw in a surprise workout just to try something new.
Get outside to enjoy nature.
Try exercising outdoors on occasion, like going for a hike or a walk at the park, strolling around the lake to feed the ducks, or just going for a run in your neighborhood.
Journaling for Self-Care
This is probably not the first time you have heard about journaling for self-care, and it likely won’t be the last from me. I had to “learn” how to journal, as ludicrous as that may sound.
But I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Now I do.
If you need to clear out stress, it is important to understand why journaling can be so therapeutic and cathartic for you.
During crazy times, you may ask “why me?” more and more often.
It is hard to understand how life can go from the high peaks of “everything’s great!” to the dark valley of losing someone to the pandemic.
Nothing makes sense. It’s easy to blame the government or politicians. It makes you want to hide under the covers and never come out.
But Covid-19 is a wake-up call for many people. We are all being forced to cope in challenging ways. It’s scary. But we are all learning just how strong we can be during adversity.
Use your journal to ask “why me?”, and then search your heart for answers. Or just hope.
Why Journaling is Considered Self-Care
When you think about self-care, you want to think about what will improve your life, make you feel happier and healthier, and be good for your physical, mental, and emotional health.
That is where journaling comes in.
What you get out of journaling relies on how you use it, what you write about, your mindset about journaling, and if you even enjoy writing.
However, in general, here are some reasons journaling can be good for self-care:
- It is a reflecting activity, letting you see where you want to make improvements in your life.
- Doing a brain dump helps you get all the stressful thoughts out of your head and onto paper.
- You can vent in a safe, private space without fearing judgment.
- Focusing on yourself and how you are feeling helps you to be more present and “in the moment”.
Turn Journaling into a Daily Self-Care Ritual
If you want to use journaling as part of your self-care routine, here are a few things that can help you with that.
Start with morning pages.
Morning pages are simple 2-3 pages you write down in your journal during your morning routine. It is stream of consciousness style, where you just write anything on your mind, not worrying about the topic, sentence structure, grammar, or any other writing rules.
Set up your journaling space.
For some people, the area in their home they use for journaling is just as important as choosing the journal itself. You want this to be a quiet, private space in your home without distractions. A bedroom or office works great for this.
Use journaling prompts.
If you are feeling stuck on what to write about, try using journal prompts. These are sentences or questions that give you a specific topic to write about.
Types of Journaling for Your Overall Wellness
Remember that there are different types of journaling that can help with your wellness and work for self-care. Here is a rundown of some of the more popular options.
Stream of consciousness.
This is where you don’t think about what to write about, and instead are just doing a “brain dump” where you get your thoughts out of your head. Typically, you end up writing about many different things, and go with the flow of your thoughts.
Do you remember writing to your diary when you were a pre-teen? That is similar to daily journaling. It is often done at the end of the day, where you write about how your day went, how it could have been improved, and any reflections you have about your day.
Goal setting and specific topics.
Some people prefer using their journal for specific things, like setting goals or expressing their creativity with short stories.
Related Post: Journaling for Beginners
Getting through rough times can be challenging. But it is less so when we are already in a positive frame of mind. The ability to see the silver lining of any storm is a gift that we give ourselves.
So is eating right, going for a walk, and spending time with supportive people.
Create a list of ways that you can start getting ready for stressful times; being prepared will help a lot.
Holistic approaches never just address symptoms of specific health problems, but instead aim to return or keep the patient in a state of balanced health between mind, body, and spirit. Holism targets overall wellness, and when we are well, we only get better with age.
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Until next time, here’s to our health!