Self care is so hot right now and for good reason. We’re all STRESSED! Right? The obvious answer is that bubble bath you’ve been lusting after all day and maybe some dark chocolate while you soak in the suds. I mean, dark chocolate is good for you, right?
I’m not against baths. In fact, since I’m pretty much always cold I take a fair amount of soaks. It’s relaxing…ish. And while I enjoy it, that kind of self care has only ever taken me so far.
I’m equal parts laid back and high strung (I know, that makes no sense but AJ backs this one up) and the kind of self care that involves me taking in a movie or perusing Target doesn’t quite cut it. I mean, I do it because it’s fun. Who doesn’t love Target? But it doesn’t reduce my stress.
As it turns out, the best things I’ve done for self care aren’t exactly things you’d think of as self care. And yet, they’ve been some of the most powerful things I’ve done to combat stress (and as a business owner with ADHD and Anxiety, I have a lot of stress).
Stop Watching the News
When I tell people that I don’t watch the news, they think I’m crazy and you can almost see the look of judgement sparkle in their eyes as they ask, “how are you going to know what is going on in the world?”
I have a few things to say about that. For one, I may not be the first person to learn about what is going on in the world, but I always hear the most important things within a few days of anyone else.
You can’t exist in modern society walking around in public or scrolling through facebook and not come in contact with the headlines. So, I stay somewhat informed though I’m not sure it has made much of an impact on my day to day life.
We Weren’t Made for the News…
I have a theory that human beings were not built to handle suffering on a global level. Before the level of technology we’ve accomplished in modern times, humans were really only privy to suffering that happened in their own communities, where there was some way they could help.
You’re neighbor was sick–you could volunteer to help watch the kids or take a meal.
What am I going to do about suffering on the other side of the globe? And even if I can help the victims of the tsunami in Asia, how am I also going to help those suffering from persecution in the middle east, starvation in Africa, and threats from the cartel in central America?
Being exposed to all of this suffering is more than a person can really handle and our mental health suffers as a result.
So I stopped watching the news. I haven’t died and I’ve been less anxious. It’s a win for me.
Limit Your Time with Negative Nelly
Negative Nelly AKA Debbie Downer…
I am NOT a crazy positive-only-no-room-for-real-life kind of person. I try to stay balanced because I realize that if you pretend that the world is only roses, you will be sorely disappointed when you get pricked by a thorn.
That being said, there are people who only ever seem to bring up the negative. The people that feel they need to call you every time someone they are remotely connected to dies.
The people that feel the need to say “Well, I’m glad you’re excited about your new job, I just hope it’s not like the last time. Remember how terrible that was?”
You know the ones I’m talking about.
There have been a few I’ve stopped hanging out with completely. Other’s I’ve just limited contact with or when I hear the conversation going in that direction, I either redirect of find a way to exit the interaction.
We can’t help that life has negative sides to it but being surrounded by people who hyperfocus on it…well, I find that a bit too much, don’t you?
Need to know who Negative Nelly is in your life? Here’s some tips…
Give Yourself Permission to Stop “Care-taking”
Your friend is having a bad day and when she tells you about it you give her the most amazing advice that will totally change her life. But does she take it? Of course not.
It’s frustrating isn’t it? You keep reminding your husband that the bad day at work will continue until he stands up to his boss and its really annoying that he’s not listening. Another bad day could have been fixed if he’d just listen, right?
I started to realize, over time, that my trying to fix other people’s problems was causing me a lot of stress.
I’d spend so much time trying to find a great option to their problem–they need to find a new living situation, pronto! I’d scour the internet.
They need to find a way to cheaply figure out a medical problem without insurance? Hours pouring over a lack of options.
Then I’d find something and be so excited to tell them about it only to feel angry when they ignored the resource.
I finally realized that it’s not my job to fix people or their situations so I stopped doing it. I get a lot less stressed now…
Work on Improving Your Sleep
I’ve never been a great sleeper. Naps are an illusion for me and waking often during the night is an unfortunate reality. Meanwhile, less sleep has definitely translated into more anxiety and a greater sense of sadness throughout the day.
I tried so many things to improve my sleep that I’m starting to feel like an expert. Many things did nothing for me but I have, thank God, found some things that have helped.
- Black out curtains. I can’t sleep with any kind of light on.
- Ear plugs. The tiniest noises wake me up.
- No screen time within an hour of bed.
- No alcohol before bed.
- An essential oil diffuser with a calming smell that I like.
- A book or a bath before bed.
- Being ADHD, I don’t let myself get caught up in something before bed that I’m likely to hyperfocus on
- Melatonin and Valerian Root. *Check with your doctor first, of course!
Getting more quality sleep has been essential for me. That’s one of the most important ways that humans “recharge” and without it, we run on fumes. It’s hard to feel great when your hitting close to empty.
Take a Hard Look at Your Priorities
Being a business owner, it’s really easy to get caught up in everything there is to get done. And then create more things that need to get done. And if I work for the next 6 months and take on X new clients, I’ll generate X income but I can’t take a break and I better not get sick.
More money is better than less, right?
The more I worked, the more people I saw, the more time I spent obsessing over the numbers, the more stressed I got. The idea of taking a break or allowing myself to reduce my workload felt counterproductive at best.
When you work for yourself your earning is directly related to your income. A sick day isn’t paid. Taking a vacation is a huge hit to the money you’ll take that month.
When it came right down to it, I asked myself how much money it was worth to me to reduce my stress. I decided I’d rather make less and live happier. So that’s what I did.
Whether it’s working too much like it was for me, or doing too much, putting your efforts into things with little return…look at what is stressing you and if it warrants the priority level you’ve given it.
It’s Not That the “Cliche” Self Care Ideas are Bad…
It’s not that I don’t use traditional self care methods–I do! I eat ice cream, I take baths, I lay in my hammock, and I do meditation from time to time. I journal on a pretty regular basis and I hang out with people I like and love.
And all of those things are helpful….
I’ve just realized that no matter how many baths I take, if I’m around the news, listening for hours to the negative Nelly, not sleeping well, etc…the bath isn’t gonna do much.
I’m definitely going to enjoy the chocolate and be glad I treated myself to it but I’m still going to wake up with next morning (at like 2am because my sleep will be out of wack if I don’t prioritize that point) just as stressed as ever.
You may not think of these things as self care but they do more for my stress than any of the traditionally recommended ideas I’ve tried.
I’m not telling you to stop doing the other stuff. Take your bath, do your yoga, wear your leggings…but don’t forget to turn off the news a little more. Don’t forget to make sure you’re getting quality sleep, set your priorities straight, and stop trying to take care of everyone around you. Do that stuff, too.
And lay in a hammock. Definitely lay in a hammock…
Just don’t forget these 5 things. Practice them and you’ll thank me for it.
Connect With Me!
I want to know about your favorite way to self care! Leave it in the comments 👇