Stress and Self-Care
Last week was a WEEK.
- One of my clients died.
- I woke up the next day unable to move my neck without major pain.
- We hosted a small Super Bowl gathering so prep, cooking, cleaning, drinking... ahem.
- I launched a corporate wellness beta test for 30 people in Los Angeles & Chicago.
- On top of regular work.
- Plus POLITICS (cue internal scream)
I suddenly felt super overwhelmed, over-extended, drained. Weepy. Fragile.
It's so weird to me that in times like this, I need self-care habits more than ever but it's also harder to think straight to do those things I know will help. Or even remember them!
Debilitating Stress is E.V.I.L.
It's the same for nutrition and exercise. When I'm feeling especially blue, I'm more likely to eat foods that don't serve me in the end because I'm feeling sorry for myself or I think I deserve it or I'm in "fuck it" mode.
When I'm stressed, an appropriate workout will usually pull me out of my funk (exercise can be a brilliant stress-buster) but it also feels like "one more stupid thing I have to do" so it's easy to justify skipping it. And beating myself up in a workout only drains me more.
I dare say that thanks to politics and the never-ending news cycle, everyone is revving at a much higher stress level than usual.
And no matter who you support and what you believe, the current climate is taking a toll on your health. How can it not?
"I hate people."
I knew I had to pull back and get a grip when I found myself thinking, I hate people.
Because here's the thing - I don't hate people. My cup was overflowing. That’s all.
So I tapped out.
I stopped looking and reading and listening for a bit.
I went hiking and turned off my phone (save for a few brilliant photo opps).
I took a nap.
Self-care is always important, but especially now.
When emotions are heightened, it's helpful to remember that exercise is actually a stressor on your body. Applied properly, exercise asks your body to adapt and get stronger. But add exercise to an already-stressed system and it's far easier to over-do it and turn it into a negative.
So even though I’m all about fitness, I don’t live in the “if it doesn’t crush you, it isn’t enough” camp, especially when you're stressed out and feeling edgy, vulnerable, or overwhelmed. Sometimes we simply need to hold back a bit.
Here are some of the things I do when I need to de-stress.
Turn off your devices. Turn off the TV. Turn off the music. Close the world out once in a while. Take some deep breaths. If your thoughts aren't friendly ones (that running ticker tape in your head can be quite awful, can't it?), recite a mantra instead. Breathe in on one word and out on another. "Think........ calm......" is one of mine.
Here's a sequence that helps me fall (back) asleep. Works almost every time.
Slow deep breath in..... as much air as you can….
Hold it. Hold it... hold it......
As you hold it, "sip in" a bit more... a bit more... a bit more.... you'll feel like your lungs are going to burst... sip... sip.... and
Hollllllld it...... until you can't
Take a few normal breaths and then repeat 2-3x
Your lungs should feel *completely* full and like you'll burst before you release.
Get That Oxygen Into Your Cells.
Yeah yeah, eat healthy foods and you don't need supplements, blah blah blah - save your lecture, ok? She says as she writes a lecture masked as a blog post.
I have been gifted a body that offers feedback on every change I make. If I eat something that makes me feel bad, I know it. I also know when supplements help and over the years I've honed in on the regimen that works for me. (I also have a medicine cabinet with an excess of "tried it; no change." But whatevs.)
For me, the following supps help with relaxation, moods, energy:
Lithium Orotate - moods
Pregnenalone - hormones
Magnesium - calming, muscle relaxing
Vitamin B12 - energy
I use others, but for the purposes of this post, these are notable. I don’t sell these and this isn’t a pitch. Do your own homework; don’t take them just because I said so.
Reading for pleasure
Hobbies (cooking, woodworking, creating)
Time away from input - we are on information overload. Take a break once in a while for cripe’s sake (I need to take my own advice on this one)
Time with companions, friends
Time with animals
If you need connection, reach out to a loved one. Tell your people what you need - they want to help. It's ok to need something and say so.
Likewise, you should reach out to those who might need it. Sometimes the shift in focus to someone else is the lift we need!
I went through a period of debilitating stress and anxiety not that long ago. It came out of nowhere, and Knocked Me FLAT. It was terrifying and awful and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. (‘Cept that one guy… wait nevermind, this is a positive post, dammit.)
Meds have their place and it is not a mark against your character if you need to take something. Meds were a bridge to get me from the depths of darkness to a place where I could mindfully participate in my own care again. We are lucky to have access to things that can help us when we can’t seem to help ourselves. **Consult your doctor.**
Got anything to add?
Please take care of yourself. You're worth it! And if you need someone to talk to, I'm here.