26 Self-Care Activities to Help Reduce the Effects of Stress
Friday, December 1 2017 Emily Roberts MA, LPC
There are many self-care activities, yet during this stressful time of the year, we often forget about taking care of ourselves and put others first. But you see, accountability to other human beings depends on your ability to care for yourself. Your mental and physical health, relationships and lifestyle suffer if you don't practice self-care activities, especially during the holiday season when stress is high.
I've created a way to incorporate fun, self-care activities into your life by making an ABC's of self-care list so that you can try one or two each day. It's important to be mindful of the things you are already doing that count as self-care activities, from taking a nap to scheduling your next doctor appointment. Self-care is important to your wellbeing so make sure you're keeping track of what you are doing to make sure you're getting enough emotional self-care.
The ABC's of Self-Care Activities to Reduce Stress
Use the alphabetical list of self-care activities below to pick one or two activities that you want to try today. Aim for one each day to start a self-care practice and improve your mental health.
A. Airplane mode -- Allow yourself time to disconnect from your phone. Try putting it in airplane mode for 15-20 minutes (you can set the alarm, so you don't forget) and engage fully in your life.
B. Bend and stretch -- Take a minute to tune into your body and place your attention on areas that need a little care.
C. Crystals -- Go to a store that sells gemstones and look around (the experience itself is a real treat). Pick up one that speaks to you and look up what it means. If you have a few extra bucks, buy one, some are under a dollar.
D. Drink more water.
E. Edit who you follow on social media -- Take five minutes to delete people or profiles that trigger you.
F. Find a deal -- It feels good, makes you feel in control of your life and saves money. Go online for a few minutes before you head out for holiday shopping or before buying anything. See if you can find a coupon or discount code.
G. Give away something -- It feels good to give to others. Donate your time, some gently used coats or toys to a shelter in your neighborhood, or a few dollars to an organization.
H. Hug someone -- Hug a friend, an animal, or yourself for a full 10 seconds.
I. Intense exercise for two to five minutes -- Exercising for a short period will help your body get rid of negative energy. Try walking at a fast pace, doing jumping jacks, etc. Exercise naturally releases endorphins which will help combat any uncomfortable emotions like anger, anxiety, or sadness.
J. Join a group -- An online forum that offers support for something you're struggling with, a community cause that is important to you, even a book club brings connection and a new activity to look forward to.
K. Kundalini yoga. -- Try a short Kundalini yoga video on YouTube; their meditations often help you feel more energized and self-aware.
L. Listen to soothing music or a guided meditation.
M. Meal prep a few days ahead of time -- Chop, package, freeze or order items so you can enjoy the process of cooking or eating rather than stressing out about time or items you forgot to buy.
O. Organize something -- Take a minute to clean out a drawer, your bag or arrange a corner of your home so that it's pleasing to your eyes.
P. Play with toys, games or crafts -- Activate your creative side and honor your inner child.
Q. Quit something -- Is there a membership you are paying for that you never use? Quit it and save some money.
R. Rest -- Take a 10-minute break to close your eyes and slow down. Slowing down is especially important during the stressful holiday months.
S. Schedule appointments or set reminders so that you are coping ahead with schedule changes and routines -- Make the dentist appointment, set up a reminder for your credit card, etc.
T. Try a delivery service -- Amazon, local supermarkets, and many online retailers have made life easier with scheduled deliveries (weekly or monthly), and many are less expensive than traditional shopping. Save gas, time, and a trip to the store.
U. Use the good towels or fancy condiments -- Don't wait for the guests or the "right time" to use the items that you've been saving. You deserve to feel special today, not tomorrow.
V. Validate yourself -- Remind yourself how well you are doing. Give yourself some credit.
W. Whistle or sing, music can improve your mood instantly.
X. XOXO -- Show yourself or someone in your life some love.
Y. Yap away -- Call a friend or FaceTime with a family member (you want to talk to). The connection is vital for self-care so make sure you're talking and taking time to listen too.
Z. Zen out -- Take a mediation break, do some deep breathing, light the incense and carve out a few minutes to just be with yourself.
The Two Categories of Self-Care Activities
Self-care activities fall into two categories. The first is instant self-care -- the stuff that feels good while you're doing it or right afterward. It is the kind that gives you pleasure or peace in the moment.
The second type of self-care may be boring, but it's important and effective. This type of self-care activity helps reduce emotional vulnerability, improve confidence, and help you accomplish the things in your life that matter.
Which activities for self-care will you try this week? Remember you have to take time to put yourself first, schedule it, plan ahead, and make sure you are giving your body and mind the love and support it needs.