How quickly we've found ourselves in the Fall of 2020! The Daylight Savings Time change in any average year can have a large impact on our physical and mental health and stress levels - although we eventually adjust, gaining and losing an hour of our day is shown to impact sleep patterns, energy, mood, cortisol levels, and how present we are able to be on the day to day. With a pandemic now thrown in the mix, there may be even more stressors during this transitional time of the year. For these reasons, self-care is more important to our well-being than ever, and simultaneously can be more challenging to implement than ever. So, here are some examples and tips to help you engage in your self-care as we transition into the colder and final months of 2020!
1. Try Out Some Quick Grounding Techniques
We hear these words thrown around a lot, but what does it really mean to "ground" yourself? One of the best ways I can explain it is by contrasting it with anxiety. When you are feeling anxious, your body is in a fight or flight state; often times it can feel like your thoughts are scattered, you're "floating", or stuck in a brain fog. In any of those cases, you're very much wrapped up in your racing thoughts, and it can bring agitation and flightiness to the rest of your body.
By grounding yourself, you are getting your body and mind to relax. Grounding is another way of using mindfulness to bring yourself out of your racing thoughts, and back into the present moment. This ultimately reduces your feelings of anxiety and enhances a sense of calmness. It doesn't only need to be done in anxious moments though! It is beneficial to set the tone for your day by doing this in the morning, or to help you relax before sleep. There are a number of ways that you can do this, such as practising the 5,4,3,2,1 technique or by connecting to your breath.
2. Add In Some Gentle Movement
Our bodies process and store a lot of our stress for us. Whatever doesn't get expressed or released can tend to present itself to us in our bodies, whether it is through getting sick, getting injured, or feeling slow, sluggish, and low in energy overall. This can especially be the case in the colder months of the year when we generally feel more
inclined to stay cozy and indoors. Although it is definitely a time to embrace the "cocooning" phase of life, it is also important to move the body even in gentle ways. Things like stretching or even going for a walk can be enough movement to increase blood flow, replenish oxygen in your muscles, boost energy levels, and release the tension and stress that may get stuck in certain parts of your body. This is a great way to get in touch with how your body feels, and soothe your body and mind with compassion.
3. Have A Gratitude Attitude!
Robert Emmons, a gratitude researcher, has found that cultivating a gratitude practice leads to increased levels of optimism, enthusiasm, determination, and overall energy. It is reported that it also leads to stronger sense of connectedness, more positive relationships, and greater effectiveness of other wellness interventions! Gratitude itself can change the way you operate, and shift you towards more positivity. For all of these reasons, it is so great to create some time, space, and energy for being thankful. In the same way that you can easily find negative things when you are in a negative mindset, you can choose to find positive things and actively create more of it in your life.
It can be as simple as taking a few minutes to journal, or list 3 things you're grateful for at the start or end of your day. Or, it can be ongoing throughout the day (think of it like a game - maybe the rule is, every red light you get, you have to think of something that you're grateful for!) However you want to do it, reframing your focus towards something that you are grateful for can help shift your attitude and energy towards naturally seeking positivity, and enhancing your overall well-being.
4. Disconnect From Technology
Although there is a really huge focus right now on staying virtually connected to one another, the abundance of time spent on our phones and computers can be negatively affecting us. Mentally, technology and social media can be distracting; it can fuel feelings of anxiety and in fact leave one feeling "left out" or even more disconnected after use. Keeping connected to a constant influx of news is also incredibly overwhelming and can create more of a sense of helplessness and fear during an already stressful time. There are also physical effects such as negatively impacting sleep quality, creating muscle tension, and causing headaches. Setting technology-time-limits for yourself, or actively taking some tech-free time in your day can be a wonderful way to disconnect from the social pressures and stress of the news and media, and add in time for other forms of self-care in your week, such as more deeply connecting to yourself, or more meaningfully connecting with friends over the phone or video chat.
5. Find Support Through Therapy
This is another way of remaining connected to yourself and to another in a very meaningful way. If you are feeling unheard, stuck, confused, scared, or overwhelmed in any way - it may be beneficial to connect with a therapist. Virtual therapy offers a safe, non-judgmental, open space to talk about any of those feelings, the experiences that have you feeling that way, and what you might need in order to feel better. The world is in a brand new stage right now - we are facing the cold months of winter, while also balancing new restrictions due to a global pandemic. There is no need to face these stressors and pressures alone! You are supported, and you are worth taking the time to care for yourself.
Be well, and please feel free to connect through the comments or my contact page!