Regulate Your Nervous System
Starting with soothing sensory stimulation is a great first step when you are feeling overwhelmed or shut-down. Soft clothing, a bath, a scented candle, or a cup of tea are simple and immediate ways to reconnect to your physical body and mindfully focus on the sensory experience.
One Hour Yoga Nidra Meditation - meaning 'sleep yoga', this guided mediation uses breathing techniques and a body scan to help regulate the parasympathetic nervous system. Grab a pillow and a blanket and find a quiet space to lie down.
Find a quick yoga or breath work video for grounding into your body and regulating breathing. The Yoga with Adriene channel is full of videos that are 30 minute or less and are easily approachable for yogis and non-yogis alike.
Notice you are stuck in rumination; the broken-record thought pattern around an issue that only increases feelings of anxiety or depression. Rumination is similar to pressing 'repeat' on a negative emotion over and over again.
Ask yourself, "what is in my control now?" If there is a something that would aid in reaching a solution or reducing distress, then take that action. If the issue is outside of your control at that moment in time, you can acknowledge the ability to find something more productive or fulfilling to engage in.
Change your view; going for a walk, a drive, calling a friend, or finding an activity to get engaged in all create distance from ruminating thoughts.
Journal to untangle the issue. Writing takes time to process and challenge our thinking, giving ourselves mental distance from the thought. Below are two worksheets that can help work through rumination for self-awareness:
Challenge Negative Self-Talk
10 Minute Guided Meditation on Self-Compassion - full of uplifting mantras, this meditation highlights self-acceptance and peace within ourselves.
Challenge 'lack' or scarcity mentality. Focusing on the scarcity of our time or resources, further drives feelings of depression, anxiety, and hopelessness. The practice of a gratitude list is the quickest and most efficient way to boost our mood and quality of our relationships.
Build Healthy Habits
Caring for our body, the space around us, and our emotional well-being sends a message to ourselves that we are worth the effort. The reason that sleep, exercise, diet always come up for mental and physical health is because it works!
Limit alcohol, marijuana, and low-nutrient food items. We reach for our favorite salty chips, pint of ice cream, or glass of wine for a brief hit of dopamine- but the effects wear off quickly. Building a balanced diet including protein, fruits, vegetables, and the right forms of fats and carbohydrates supports mental health.
Prioritize sleep hygiene. Anyone who has struggled with insomnia knows this is easier said than done, but quality sleep is the foundation of our mood.
Exercise! Cardio exercise several times per week is one of the most effective way to reduce anxiety. Tracking progress on a calendar helps us stay motivated and reflects the growth we are making.
Make time for face-to-face interaction. Once we have balanced our own self-care, extending that momentum to our loved ones and community helps solidify our support system and make us feel connected to something much larger than ourselves! Consistency in attending fitness classes, book club, trivia nights, recreation sport leagues, etc. is key in building new friendships.
Want to see where your level of self-care stacks up? Take the Self-Care Assessment below: