Stress is something we all have to deal with. In fact, we all live with so much stress in our lives that is can become the new normal. We’re praised for being busy + judged for taking time for ourselves. This system is not sustainable, and it will only lead to burnout.
We’ve all felt that burst of panic that comes before a big school or work presentation or a first date. However, these little stressors can really add up. When we let stress build up over time, it can have negative consequences for our health and for our lives. Chronic exposure to stress can lead to all sorts of physical ailments, from digestive problems to feelings of depression and everything in between.
You don’t deserve to feel physically and mentally beaten down because of your stress level. One approach to dealing with stress is to focus on self-care. Self-care is very trendy right now, but it’s popular because it really works. It’s also super flexible: what works for your style of self-care might not work for someone else. You can tailor your self-care routine to your specific needs now and yours alone and this can change overtime.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by stress and you don’t know where to turn, you may want to consider seeking professional help. Working with a therapist can help pinpoint where your stress is coming from, and your therapist will likely have some strategies for you to try to reduce your stress level.
Here are some of our favorite stress-busting self-care tips:
Reclaim Your Thoughts
Stress tends to overwhelm everything else. When was the last time you just sat with your thoughts + didn’t let worry or pressure take over? Stress can make us blind to the actual emotions we’re feeling. One way to make space for your thoughts is to develop a meditation practice. You don’t have to go from newbie to pro overnight. You can start by carving out a few minutes a day to sit quietly and focus on your breath. There are meditation apps out there that can help get you started, with guided meditations and peaceful sounds you can play. Here are some ideas to get you started:
You can also find free guided meditations on Youtube, if that is your preference. There is a lot of helpful free content out there, so if the first one you try doesn’t work for you, don’t give up.
Turn Off Notifications
Constantly getting notifications on your phone or computer can be distracting, but it can also be really stressful. When you’re getting a real-time look at how things are piling up in your inbox, it can be hard to focus on lowering your stress level. You don’t have to unplug completely (although, if you can manage it, it might be a nice way to take a break), although you can turn off your notifications. Put your phone on airplane mode, set your computer to do not disturb, and turn off notification badges so they don’t distract you. Basically, notice what sort of notifications stress you out, and then find a way to minimize them.
Get Some Sleep
Sleep is so important. You likely already know that, but it bears repeating. If you’ve been shortchanging yourself on sleep, you probably know that it feels terrible to be tired all the time. So, set some boundaries around your sleep schedule. Here are some ideas for how to transform your sleep routine:
- Find a pillow that really works for you (maybe that’s a special orthopedic pillow if you have neck pain, maybe it’s one of the ones that stays cool if you wake up from being too hot, etc.)
- Diffuse some lavender essential oil. Lavender is a very relaxing scent, and making a habit to diffuse the same scent every night at bedtime can signal to your brain that it’s time to sleep.
- Get a white noise machine. This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but a white noise machine (or app) can transform your sleep habits. It can drown out street noise or noise from noisy roommates and neighbors. It may take some getting used to, but it can be a powerful tool for a good night’s sleep.
- Don’t bring your phone into bed. Leave it plugged in on the nightstand at the very least, but if you can bear to have it in a different room, you’ll find yourself less likely to get lost on your screen and more likely to get more deep sleep.
- Figure out what time you should go to bed and wake up. You probably have some idea already of how much sleep you need to be well rested the next day. If you know how long you have to sleep, and what time you need to wake up, you can figure out when your ‘bedtime’ should be. You can use free tools like this sleep calculator to figure it out.
Read Our Guide
Last, but not least, we have a self-care guide available for you to download for free. It has resources on why self-care is an important practice and tips on how to get started in a way that works for you. You can download it here.
Whether you are struggling with a particular issue or just can’t shake the feeling that there should be more to life, Holistic can help.
Call 614-607-0980 for details or to schedule an appointment.
Holly Gallaher holds a Masters Degree in Social Work from The Ohio State University. She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree from Ohio University majoring in Political Science and Public Policy and Administration. Holly has worked in both the day treatment setting as well as community mental health and is a certified Functional Family Therapist.
Holly approaches therapy from a strength-based and systems perspective utilizing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Solution-Focused, and mindfulness techniques to support clients in learning how to better manage depression, anxiety, trauma, substance use, and a number of other mental health issues. Holly has experience working with children, adolescents, adults, and families in a clinical setting. She believes in meeting clients where they are and collaboratively working with them to reach their full potential.
Our featured staff member, Holly Gallaher, recommends the following books:
The CBT Toolbox: A workbook for clients and clinicians by Jeff Righenbavh, PhD, LPC
This book goes over evidence-based techniques to work towards recovery from a number of issues, including depression, anxiety, toxic relationships, stress management, destructive behaviors, and more. You can use it on your own or with a therapist. Find it here.
Think Good-Feel Good: A cognitive behavior therapy workbook for children and young people by Paul Stallard
This book is geared toward children and younger people. It’s a great resource to explain CBT in an understandable way to children, and it is full of exercises they can work on by themselves or as assignments. You can find the book here.
Safe People: How to find relationships that are good for you and avoid those that aren’t by Dr. Henry Cloud, Dr. John Townsend
This book is a guide to developing all sorts of relationships, from friendships to romantic partners. This book goes over the traits to look out for in untrustworthy people, and it will guide you toward developing healthier relationships. You can find it here.
Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David D. Burns
If you struggle with your mood frequently, this book can help. It contains scientific information about what causes your moods and how you can transform your outlook to one of positivity instead of negativity. There’s also a section about different treatment options available for folks with depression. You can find it here.
The boy who was raised as a dog: And other stories from a child psychiatrists notebook — what traumatized children can teach us about loss, love, and healing by Dr. Bruce Perry MD, PhD with Maia Szalavitz
The authors of this book dive deep on how trauma can affect children’s entire lives. They look at the science of what trauma does to young brains and how those young brains can recover. You can find it here.
Functional Family Therapy for Adolescent Behavior Problems by James F. Alexander, PhD, Holly Barrett Waldron, PhD, Michael S. Robbins, PhD, and Andrea A. Neeb, MS, LMHC
Adolescence can be full of tricky issues to manage, but sometimes the issues are more severe than others. If you have an adolescent in your life, this book explains Functional Family Therapy, which is a technique that can be helpful. You can find it here.
Holistic Consultation is offering several support groups in April.
Group therapy is intended to help all active clients to learn to form a common identity and a sense of shared purpose with others who have faced similar struggles in life. You will build trust, respect, and compassion with your group members which allows you to do deep, healing work. Our groups meet weekly for 60-90 minute sessions.
You can find out more about the groups we’re offering here and contact 614-607-0980 to learn more or to register.