TIP NINE – COPING WITH STRESS ☀️
Are you feeling stressed or overwhelmed? In moments like this it can be nice to have a few simple options to fall back on.
Here are 5 things that may help:
- Spend time with people who make you feel alive, who nourish you, encourage you, and who accept you for exactly who you are. Social connection is so important — it is the strongest protective factor for depression after all. Research shows that our need to connect socially is as basic as our need for food, water and shelter. All humans are hardwired for it and we are all worthy of it just as we are. This is a gentle reminder that you don’t have to do the hard stuff alone. You were never meant to. We heal in connection, so let’s start investing in it and using it as a tool for our wellbeing. We all need people in our life that we can talk to, and some times just having our struggles heard, seen and validated by the people that matter most to us is all we need.
- Get outside. It’s encouraged a lot because it’s true: Nature is healing, fresh air is revitalising, and the power of the outdoors can transform your day and your mood. If you need some suggestions, here are 12 gentle things you can do outside:
– Go for a walk with a friend
– listen to a podcast as you stroll along the beach
– spend some time in your garden or a botanical garden
– go for a swim in a lake, in a pool, in the sea
– read a chapter of a book in the sun
– stretch on a patch of grass
– find a park bench and do some people watching
– lay in a patch of grass and make images out of the clouds
– find a nice spot and have a picnic
– Go stargazing
– Make daisy chains
– Go on a scavenger hunt around your neighbourhood
Outdoor activities don’t have to be strenuous and they can even be fun.
- Set a boundary that you’ve been avoiding. Sending emails too late? Give yourself permission to shut your laptop when the work day is over. Spending too much time with someone who drains you? Give yourself permission to say no when they next ask to hang out this week and start to reduce the amount of time you spend with that individual. Can’t get to sleep at night? Try enforcing 30 mins tech free time before going to bed. Spending too much time mindlessly scrolling on your phone? Try swapping out 10 minutes of screen time with another activity like stretching, having a mindful cuppa, or writing a gratitude list.
- Make a playlist that reflects where you’re at this week. Music, like nature, is healing – it helps us feel connected, understood and creates and atmosphere to explore our inner world.
- Write yourself a love letter. So often we get caught up in highlighting our flaws. Take some time to highlight your strengths and gifts – it’s a simple way to remember that you’re not the thoughts in your head.
P.s. hugging a pet if you have one, can also help.
P.P.s. a general rule of thumb for working out whether not doing something (like connecting with friends when you don’t feel like it) is self-care or not, is asking yourself how you would feel afterwards. Not during, but after the event or commitment is over.
For example, if I decided not to hang out with my friends would I feel guilty and worse about myself and go into a shame spiral or would I feel genuine long-term relief? If you will feel worse for not doing it, try and push through your discomfort and do it anyway. Another good example is exercise. Even when have thoughtfully planned to go for a run often when it comes round to going we may not want to go, but most of the time we will feel so much better after going and so much worse if we decide to skip it. Sometimes self-care isn’t always doing the thing we want to do and it doesn’t always equal comfort. Sometimes self-care is doing the thing that’s good for you, even if it’s not easy.
As always there is a whole lot of nuance to this that I believe and trust we can discern for ourselves.
Avoidance of doing certain things increases our anxiety and staying in bed for days on end only feeds depression (though both these things feel better temporarily). It’s asking yourself, what does my brain often tell me to do when I’m struggling (that I know probs isn’t going to be helpful) and what do I think I need to do instead?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I also want to be mindful that those of us that are recovering perfectionists or in ED recovery may need to work through this before you can use this guideline. This is because you may have unrealistic expectations for yourself and always feel guilty no matter what.⠀