With our super busy lifestyles, it’s easy to dismiss self-care as too time-consuming but we’ve got some great tips to help reduce stress and increase feelings of wellbeing.
What is wellbeing?
Feelings of wellbeing can be connected to positive emotions and experiences such as happiness, life satisfaction, having a sense of purpose and finding meaning in life.
Dedicating time to take care of yourself will increase your feelings of peace, happiness and gratitude, and fostering these kinds of emotions and thoughts will have significant influence on your life satisfaction. These uplifting feelings enable you to better connect with others and engage in and contribute to the world around you, providing you with an increased sense of purpose and meaning.
With our super busy lifestyles, it’s easy to dismiss self-care as too time-consuming, and it’s often the first thing that falls to the bottom of our to-do list. The good news is even small and very simple acts of self-care contribute to improved feelings of wellbeing.
Take care of yourself
Should the plane cabin lose pressure in the event of an air disaster, we’re advised to first reach for our own oxygen mask, before assisting others. This truly does seem like sound and logical advice, but how often do we apply this approach to our everyday lives? While we’re swept up in our list of responsibilities from our work, our loved ones, and the many other circumstances and people around us, it can be so easy to forget about ourselves.
The truth is, you’ll be the best you can be when you put yourself first. By making the time to show kindness to yourself and paying attention to your own needs, you will feel nurtured and cared for, you will be more able to feel a sense of peace and calm, allowing you to offer your support to the people and the circumstances around you.
What happens in our bodies when we’re stressed?
Our sympathetic nervous system is activated when we perceive that we’re in a dangerous or stressful situation – our fight or flight response. In this state you might notice physical changes such as increased heart rate and sweating. There is substantial evidence that when the sympathetic nervous system is overly active, over an extended period of time, it can increase your risk of developing heart disease and other health problems.
In quieter conditions, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated – the state of rest and digest. This results in slowing of the heart rate, increased feelings of relaxation, and optimal digestion. In short, this state is necessary to help your body compensate for periods of stress.
How to reduce feelings of stress and increase feelings of wellbeing
The activities that bring a sense of joy and calm will be different for everyone. Find what works for you and then decide to do something small every day. It takes 30 days to form a habit – your goal is to choose something that can become a regular part of your lifestyle – then watch the benefits add up in the long term. We’ve put together a few suggestions to start your thinking…
Mindfulness is all about fostering what is called ‘present-focussed awareness’. It takes us away from the many distractions in day- to-day life and allows us to come back to ourselves. Not just a fad that’s soon to pass, Mindfulness has actually been practised for thousands of years, with many proven benefits.
So how is it practised? It could be the simple of act of taking 3 deep and deliberate breaths, in through your nose and sending it all the way down to the tip of your toes.
Notice the calm this brings to you. You can easily do this a few times during your day.
You might try tuning into the feelings and sounds of the present moment – the environment, the air around you, the sensations in your body like your heart rate, your body temperature, how your body feels. Notice these things and then focus on your breathing, mostly the breath as you’re breathing out. Do this for 1-2 minutes and again feel that sense of slowing down. Top activities to enhance your wellbeing
You might prefer to take time for a planned mindful activity such as:
Meditation techniques that use mindfulness, or a mantra as the focus, have been shown to reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and depression, and can even have a positive impact on physical symptoms such as pain.
Regular physical activity supports positive mental health and contributes to healthy ageing. We should aim for 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most days of the week. Three 10-minute bouts are as effective as a 30-minute session, and it doesn’t need to be at the gym – it could be as simple as walking.
Associated with the prevention and improved management of many chronic diseases, walking also draws fresh oxygen into your lungs, offering benefits such
as improved energy levels and reduced stress, just to name a few.
This Chinese exercise, for the health of mind and body, has been shown to
improve feelings of depression, anxiety and general stress management – the effects could be in part due to the benefits of practising in a group, another contributing factor to healthy wellbeing.
The ancient mind and body practice of yoga is calming, energising and uplifting, and has also been shown to assist with feelings of anxiety and depression.
Or just a few minutes of time out
Find the activity that brings you some joy. Is it reading, gardening, cooking, or connecting with other people? Perhaps it’s your pet, or a creative activity such as writing, drawing, crafting, playing or listening to music. You’re unique, so take the time to get to know what makes you smile and do a little bit of that each day.
Of course, remember to eat well
We need to eat a range of foods across the 5 core food groups to maintain good health and wellbeing – so that’s fruits, vegetables, breads and cereals, dairy foods and alternatives, and healthy protein foods. Jenny Craig will help you to take care of this while you focus on the other opportunities for self-care.
See each day as a beautiful opportunity, be still and be open and then make a kind and caring decision for yourself to move forward in positive ways with peace and with purpose. Taking care of yourself has a butterfly effect – as others observe
the benefits of your actions, you will be spreading the positive message of the value of self-care.