The Mindfulness Series: Chapter Two. Self Care and Building Resilience against Stress

Hello Everyone,

Welcome to the Second Chapter of the Mindfulness Series. In this chapter we will discuss self-care and how to build resilience against stress.

Self-care Relaxed people can still be super-achievers, and, in fact, relaxation and creativity go hand in hand (Carlson, 2007). There are many ways to prevent burn-out and to restore a lifestyle balance that produces ease rather than stress. Self-care involves paying attention to the physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual aspects of your life. The following lists include many suggestions which are adapted from a website dedicated to stress release and relaxation that is worth visiting as it has some excellent resources (http://www.nvoad.org/articles/ESCCchapterB.pdf).

Not all of these suggestions need to be applied, but one area of self-care may come more naturally to you than others. That way it will be more pleasurable to do which increases the likelihood of you doing it. Becoming less stressed involves being kind to yourself, so it is important to choose activities that do not add to a list of demands you cannot fulfill (and thus bring additional stress). Looking after yourself can be fun if you choose pleasurable and easy suggestions which may involve the body (a long, hot bath), the mind (listening to lovely music) or giving yourself the time to sing or paint. Most of these self-care activities involve some sense of personal growth, expansion and validation of your personal needs. Like any development, it needs practice. Sometimes it helps to document the journey of self-care, as a way to count blessings, to review deep beliefs and to affirm one’s own strengths and needs. It means a conscious engaging with some of the ideas mentioned above.

Some of the ‘side effects’ of the activities mentioned above will be that you are more able to:

• Set realistic goals

• Be assertive and maintain your boundaries

• Change negative thought processes into positive ones

• Avoid ‘toxic’ situations

• Engage in positive conflict resolution

• Maintain a sense of humour and good health

• Practice forgiving, also of self

• Develop positive relationships

• Improve your communication skills

Petrea King suggests that looking after yourself must be your highest priority. Do you think that it is selfish to put yourself first? It certainly sounds like that and especially women are taught to look after everyone else before taking a rest themselves. As a result, women (and men too) often from suffer stress related illnesses or feel depressed and unhappy. How productive can you be if you are not at peace, not relaxed and happy? Looking after yourself means that you can give from an overflowing well of energy, love and care. It also means giving everyone else permission to care for themselves well.

Physical Self-Care

• Eat regularly (eg breakfast, lunch, dinner)

• Eat healthy, fresh food with plenty of fruit and vegetables

• Find a pleasurable exercise routine

• Get regular medical care for prevention and health

• Take time off when sick

• Have a massages, acupuncture or beauty treatment

• Dance, swim, walk, run, play sports, sing, or do some other physical activity that is fun

• Take time to be sensual and sexual–with yourself, with a partner

• Get enough sleep

• Wear clothes you like

• Take vacations, day trips or mini-vacations

• Make time away from telephones

Psychological Self-Care

• Notice your inner experiences — listen to your thoughts, judgments, beliefs, attitudes, and feelings without judgment

• Let go of perfectionism: do something silly or be simply imperfect

• Talk with friends and have a buddy support system

• Practice receiving from others

• Write in a journal: Be curious about life

• Do relaxation exercises, get a relaxation CD that you like

• Have your own personal psychotherapy or counselling

• Read literature that is unrelated to work and uplifting

• Do something at which you are not expert or in charge

• Decrease stress in your life by removing the clutter

• Make to do lists and prioritise them giving yourself plenty of time

• Let others know different aspects of you

• Say NO to extra responsibilities 8

Emotional Self-Care

• Be kind to yourself, engage in self-nurturing, self-mothering

• Spend time with others whose company you enjoy

• Stay in contact with important people in your life

• Give yourself affirmations, praise and love

• Find ways to increase your sense of self-esteem

• Acknowledging strength, positive points

• Boundaries: learn to feel OK about saying NO and putting yourself first

• Change thought processes that are not self-affirming

• Avoid negative people or negative communication

• Re-read favourite books, review favorite movies

• Identify comforting activities, objects, people, relationships and places

• Allow yourself to cry

• Find things to make you laugh

• Express your outrage in social action, letters, donations, marches, protests

• Contribute to causes in which you believe

• Play with children, animals or grown-ups Spiritual Self-Care

• Make time for self-reflection

• Practice acceptance and kindness for self and others

• Spend time with and in nature

• Find a spiritual connection or community

• Be open to inspiration from teachers and people you admire

• Read inspirational literature (talks, music, etc.)

• Cherish your optimism and hope

• Be aware of nonmaterial aspects of life

• Practice forgiveness for self and others

• Identify what is meaningful to you and notice its place in your life

• Meditate, sing or pray

• Be open to Not Knowing and experiences of awe (http://www.nvoad.org/articles/ESCCchapterB.pdf)

A side effect of learning to look after yourself is that you learn new skills that can be used in your personal as well as in your family and professional life. For example the ability to turn adversity into an opportunity becomes a change for personal development. It also means that you are developing life skills that contribute to greater happiness and well-being of all people around you. Paradoxically, looking after yourself means becoming more able to be of service for others!

Nutrition Nourishment Hopes you’re enjoying the Mindfulness Series and taking what information is important and beneficial for you at this time in your life. It’s  never too late to begin to understand yourself better and to find happiness for your soul

If you haven’t already don’t forget to check out Chapter One in this series. Links Below.

Chapter One: Burn-out. More than a Stress Response.

https://nutritionnourishment.wordpress.com/2017/09/19/the-mindfulness-series-burn-out-more-than-a-stress-response/

Healthiest regards

Tegan, Nutrition Nourishment

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