Life can get very busy at times. It is exactly when life becomes too hectic that we need to take more and better care of ourselves.
Self-care shouldn’t be complicated: it just takes a few minutes a day, and it makes a huge difference to our wellbeing.
Here are some suggestions to make you feel calmer and more balanced when you feel the stress levels rising.
Gut Health and Nutrition
Our first line of defence against illness and to promote self-care is nutrition: a healthy diet will help prevent issues such as fatigue and poor concentration. Of course, when we are too busy we may end up relying on convenience foods like take-away meals, sugary snacks and caffeinated drinks, however, these types of foods tend to rob us of energy and don’t provide us with good nutrition.
Do you need to rush out in the morning? If you can, pack a healthy breakfast the night before, so you can have breakfast in the office the following day. Things like high fibre and low sugar cereal, or fruit, yoghurt are easy to carry around. Make sure you always add some good quality proteins too like an egg or almonds. They will help you maintain your energy level throughout the day.
A drink made with hot water and lemon, or with lemon and ginger is a great way to start your day. It really helps the digestive system work at its optimum level and you will feel more energised. If you are used to drink a lot of coffee or black tea to keep you going, start by increasing your water intake during the day and then slowly reduce caffeinated drink over a week or two.
You can also carve out a few minutes towards the end of the day to make yourself a herbal tea with relaxing herbs such as chamomile. Keeping the same ritual every day will help the body and mind wind down so you can get ready for sleep.
Make Your Home Welcoming
You may have heard of “hygge”, the Danish concept of warmth, cosiness and comfort in the home. You can create a welcoming atmosphere at home with colours, scents and some decluttering. Sometimes we feel stressed when we come back home if the living room is untidy or if there is a pile of dishes that need washing in the kitchen. By getting into the habit of making housework part of a calming routine, even tidying up can be meditative.
You can create a corner in a room just for yourself, with a comfortable armchair and a soft blanket where you can read or simply rest.
You can spray a relaxing room fragrance or use an oil burner to diffuse soothing aromas of lavender, geranium or a blend of essential oils. Fragrance sticks and scented candles can also add a lovely touch to a room. Make sure that fragrances are natural and free of toxic chemicals.
It is also worth raising the energy in every room of the house, to improve the overall well-being. Harmonising your home is a great way to get rid of negative energy using specific tools and techniques. If you are familiar with feng shui, you will know that having a good flow of energy in the home can make a difference. It only takes a few adjustments, for example moving the furniture so that it does not obstruct a door or a window. Harmonising your home takes this a step further, evaluating how environmental stresses like radiation from wi-fi and electronic devices can affect our health. It might be a good idea to move the TV out of the bedroom and not use smartphones or tablets before going to bed, as they can affect sleep quality. See also this article about preparing for sleep.
Correct breathing is an essential part of self-care. Have you noticed how your breathing becomes fast and shallow when you are anxious? By working on your breathing you can slow down all the mechanisms that send messages to your body that it is under attack. Calibrating our physiology can have an effect on our mind, starting a virtuous cycle of feeling calmer and reducing stress.
In Sophrology, breathing exercises are an essential component to achieve balance of body and mind. You can practise these exercises any time and anywhere, either during the day or before going to sleep.
The simplest exercise you can do is to breathe from your tummy (abdominal breathing): breathe in from your diaphragm counting to four, then breathe out from your diaphragm counting to four. You can place one hand on your belly to feel the expansion when you breathe in and the contraction when you breathe out. Do this for a few minutes, until you start feeling calmer.
For maximum benefits, arrange to have some one-to-one sessions with a Sophrology practitioner to learn a range of exercises to do at home. Once you are familiar with the different relaxation techniques you can deploy when you feel stressed, you will find it easy to access your inner strength to cope with life’s challenges.
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