Stress & How It Is Impacting Your Health + 25 Practical & Simple Self Care Strategies

As women, some of us mothers, most of us working and caring for others, all of us stretched and busy, we often forget to take care of the most important thing: ourselves.

At the very beginning of a flight on an airplane, the flight attendant tells us to put our own oxygen mask on first, before helping other people. We would all agree this is for good reason. If we can't breathe, how can we possibly help anybody else? We need to first help ourselves before we can help others. If we do not take care of ourselves, we cannot be there for those around us.

While in theory we all know this, in a practical sense we often don't follow this principle. And if we do self care, is it as a higher a priority as it should be? Maybe, maybe not. It isn't about being selfish, but it is about knowing what we need. Once we have identified that, we are in a much better position to care for others.

When we don't self care, and stress builds this does impact our health; it speeds up the aging process and leaves us feeling fatigued and demotivated. Not only is stress correlated with weight gain and the inability to lose weight, but it is also linked to a wide variety of diseases including:

• Cardiovascular disease • Diabetes • Osteoporosis • Gastrointestinal disorders • Obesity • Cancer • Anxiety & Depression

Stress, no matter where it is coming from, disrupts our body’s internal balance, known as homeostasis. When we are faced with stress our bodies react by activating the General Adaptation Syndrome - which is responsible for returning your body to a state of homeostasis. This simply put is the fight or flight response in your brain. In reaction to the “flight or fight” response, our autonomic nervous system (which does not discriminate between physical or emotional stress) involuntarily secretes two hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, that are required to help maintain homeostasis.

Ever crave carbohydrate foods when you are stressed? This is because the brain sends a signal indicating that energy is needed in order to fight or to flee. Here is the kicker, often the stress isn't physical, it is emotional, which means we aren't using anymore energy and don't require it, so the excess energy we just ate gets stored as fat. The system repeats itself when you are chronically stressed.

Ensuring we self care regularly, supports us to create more balance in our lives, feel more relaxed and keep our health in check. It keeps our cup fuller for longer. It keeps our oxygen masks on.

First though I thought it best to explain a little about what self care is and isn't. Self care is about filling you up, revitalizing your soul, it is supportive of your health and total well-being. It aims to improve your mood and care for your mental, emotional and physical self. It shouldn't feel forced or dreaded, it is planned and purposeful.

Here I have provided some really practical, simple yet effective ways we can self care. This list is not exhaustive and is designed with the intention that it will ignite some self-care in your life!

1. Take a bath

2. Get a massage

3. Play your favorite music and sing!

4. Go on a walk

5. Exercise

6. Try something new

7. Sit outside in nature and just soak in the view

8. Visit a favourite person and drink tea or coffee

9. De-clutter a space in your home

10. Do yoga, or go to a class

11. Get Creative, paint or draw

12. Write in a journal

13. Start a gratitude journal

14. Completely unplug - turn off all devices phone, computer, tablet for an hour or two

15. Watch your all time favorite movie

16. Get a manicure/pedicure

17. Dance around in your home - like no body is watching

18. Try a guided meditation

19. Visit a new restaurant you have wanted to try

20. Read for pleasure

21. Go on a girls night / day

22. Bake anything your heart desires

23. Pick up the phone and call a friend to chat

24. Be a tourist in your own part of town

25. Light a candle and play soft music

So there you have it - 24 ways we can self care, if none of those appeal that's OK! Hopefully it has ignited your creative thinking and you can come up with your own personal and planned self care activities, that is supportive of your holistic health. Keeping your stress in check and your health at its peak.

Remember put your oxygen mask on first.

Happy self caring! xx

#stress #selfcare #holistichealth