There’s no way around it: these days, we’re experiencing unprecedented levels of uncertainty and stress--and it takes a toll on our mental and physical health.
While the stress hormone cortisol can be extremely beneficial to our memory, ability to regulate blood sugar, reduce inflammation and regulate our metabolisms when balanced, when it sky-rockets, it can result in a range of dangerous symptoms including high blood pressure, weight gain, reduced immune function anxiety and depression, fatigue, irritability, low libido and compromised gut health.
Learn more: Cortisol: How to Know When Your Stress Levels Are Too High & What to Do About It.
The result is a body that is less adept at fighting off both mental and physical illness. The result is an unhealthier you.
Thankfully, many people are understanding the vital importance of creating self care rituals in their daily lives at this trying time.
We’ve built our lives on extolling the merits of natural and non-evasive self care practices that allow your body heal itself. Now more than ever, we understand the importance of sharing our most powerful and mind-blowingly simple self care practices with you.
Keep reading. Here are 5 of our favourite stress-busting self care practices you can implement into your crazy life.
1. Celebrate Some YOU time
Your body requires rest, but not all rest is the same. There’s sleep, but we also require more active forms of rest that nourish our parasympathetic nervous system-- the system that allows our bodies to rejuvenate and digest.
In addition to sleep, you should also make time for other kinds of parasympathetic rest, like reading, meditation, stretching, having a salt and/or essential oil bath, or doing some facial or total body exfoliation.
Learn more: Exfoliating for Healthy Skin.
Whatever you choose to do, try to dedicate 45 minutes - 1 hour per day of quiet time specifically dedicated to yourself with no distractions, away from your phone, TV and any disruptive surrounds.
All these activities will recharge your mind and body, allowing you to be happier and more focussed in general.
2. Go with Your Gut
Your gut is your body’s second brain, and nourishing your gut’s microbiome--the microorganisms that live your gut and contribute to good health--is one of the easiest and more delicious ways to promote a calmer, happier, healthier life.
Processed foods and sugars and chemicals in our environment and beauty products can all contribute to compromised gut health, but a lesser-known threat to your precious microbiome is stress.
In fact, the link between excess stress and poor gut health is well-documented. Stress impacts your gut health right down to a cellular level. When you get stressed out, your body restricts blood flow, and consequently, oxygen to your gut. This is why you can often feel cramping and even have bowel control issues when you are overwrought.
The blood deficiency results in an imbalance of critical gut bacteria, which start to die due to the lack of precious oxygen. It also causes inflammation, which over time can result in many wasting diseases and even cancer.
One of the easiest ways to bolster good gut health is to eat clean, whole foods, especially plant-based foods like fruit, vegetables, whole grains. Fermented foods such as kefir, kombucha, and miso can also work wonders to increase the number of good bacteria in your microbiome and promote a more robust gut.
3. Reroot with the Earth
When we were children, being outside was one of our greatest joys. However our society’s sick prioritising of productivity at the expense of wellness has made our backyards seem more foreign and further away than ever.
It’s time reground yourself with nature. It’s one of the most simple self care strategies to help you reduce stress and make you feel empowered.
The ancient practice of earthing--also known as grounding--is an easy and incredibly effective way to destress that involves putting your bare skin in direct contact with the earth in order to absorb its soothing energy.
Think of it this way: when babies are born, doctors, nurses and midwives encourage mothers and fathers to allow skin-to-skin with the child as much as possible. This unfettered contact calms the baby and creates a powerful, health-promoting bond between the parent and child.
The same goes for our Mother Earth, no matter how old we are. The more we connect directly with her, the healthier and happier we both will be.
4. Embrace Your Beauty
Vanity is often seen as a character flaw. While too much vanity can certainly be a weakness, there is nothing wrong with taking pride in your appearance. This is the crucial difference between vanity and confidence.
We are all beautiful, and embracing our beauty is an invariably uplifting way to decrease stress and promote feelings of wellness and confidence.
During chaotic times, we often feel the need to deprive ourselves of any joy, feeling that we don’t deserve to be happy--that now is not the right time to enjoy our bodies and lives.
In fact, the exact opposite is true. In the midst of chaos and fear is exactly when we need to celebrate this beauty and joy the most. This means if you want to pamper yourself with a DIY clay face mask, do it!
If you want to whiten your teeth with natural and effective active charcoal powder, do that too!
Feeling great about how you look will improve your outlook and increase your calm.
5. Move Your Body!
Life is movement.
Movement stimulates wellbeing physically, mentally and emotionally and should be a top priority in your daily self care routine.
By now, we should all know that exercise has far-reaching benefits that extend from our moods to our cellular health. What we may not discuss so openly is that you don’t have to adhere to a specific kind of exercise to see these benefits.
At the end of the day, the best kind of exercise is the one you enjoy doing. So, if you don’t like running, don’t run! Try walking or biking or swimming. If you don’t like any of these options, try rowing or kayaking or yoga or weight lifting or dancing or karate or tai chi or rock climbing. Try a sport.
Just don’t stop trying until you find a kind of activity you love. Staying active will help you live a longer, happier, and calmer life.
Importantly, find a variety of physical pursuits you enjoy so you can switch them up and avoid getting bored with just one.
Learn more: Top Low-Impact Exercises for Health and Wellness.
A final note on exercise: what type of exercise you do is just as important as the time of day you do it. While not everyone is an early bird, if you know you have a busy, stressful day ahead, it is often useful to make a point of getting up a little earlier to workout.
Even just half an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise can significantly improve your cardiovascular health, muscle strength, and mood for the entire day.
In fact, studies show that people who exercise in the morning tend to make healthier food choices all day long, and--as we’ve already discussed--these healthy food choices will nourish your microbiome and contribute to your overall self care.
For some of you, these simple self care practices may already be in place. However, you may not have been giving yourself the credit you deserve for doing them. Self care is never a waste of time. On the contrary, a little self care will go a long way to help you make more of the time you have.
Tolman Self Care.