In this post I’m sharing 7 FREE self care practices. Whether it’s health, finances or the future, we’re all feeling more stressed out by how this pandemic has changed our lives. Looking after your physical and mental wellness has never been more important, and, it doesn’t have to break the bank. Free self care – who’s in?!
Stress Damages Us More Than You May Know
While it’s important to prioritize your health all the time, it’s absolutely essential during times of stress. Being on high alert delivers messages to our brain to send in the stress hormones. These are the same hormones that trigger our ‘fight or flight’ response and lead to:
- An increased heart rate
- Faster breathing
- Muscles primed and ready for action
The stress response was designed to protect our bodies during an emergency, allowing us to react quickly. Fire stress responses day after day, though, and our health starts to suffer.
We’ve already discussed the stress, skin connection. But, there are more serious implications of long term stress:
- Mental Health. Over time, increased levels of cortisol, (the ‘stress hormone’) can harm communication between our immune system and the part of our brain responsible for dealing with stress. This can lead various symptoms such as, irritability, anxiety, depression & sleeplessness.
- Headaches & Muscle Pain. As a result of constant muscle tension.
- Asthma and/or Panic Attacks. Due to shortness of breath and rapid breathing.
- Heart Disease. Heart attacks, hypertension and even elevated cholesterol levels have been linked to an increase in heart rate and higher levels of stress hormones
- Digestive Health. Stress can damage the connection between our brains and our gut, triggering pain, bloating, an increase/decrease in appetite, diarrhea or constipation and even vomiting. The impact of some of these may also affect our mood.
Thankfully, there are steps you can take to lessen the damage.
These 7 Free Self Care Practices Can Make a Difference
Depending on where you live, spas and gyms may be open now. But, you may be concerned about the potential health risks or financial implication of visiting one. Luckily, there are plenty of free self care practices that can be done easily from home. Here are 7 of our favorite:
- Draw a Bath. Self care is more than bubble baths; everyone knows that! But, lighting some candles, getting your diffuser going and soaking in warm water is always good for the soul. We love to use a body oil afterwards because the act of applying it is (in part), about taking a minute for yourself. Ultra-moisturizing and wildly luxurious to the touch, try our Lemon Rose Moisturizing Body Oil. It’ll instantly transform dry body skin into soft, supple and glowing skin.
- Put on Your Dancing Shoes. It may be a while before you can hit the dance floor with your friends, but there’s no reason to not have one at home. Throw on your favorite tunes and let yourself go.
- Keep a Gratitude Journal & Write Compliments to Yourself. We can’t control what’s going on around us, but remembering to be thankful for what we have, instead of what we don’t, helps to reframe your life outlook in a big way.
- Read a Book. Fiction or non-fiction; it doesn’t matter. Whether you’re taking time to learn something new or escaping into a great story, reading is very relaxing.
- Daydream. Brew some tea, cozy up under a blanket and let your mind go. Studies have shown that daydreaming can help with problem solving and with building memories.
- Get Some Fresh Air. Stepping out for a walk (following socially distant guidelines) allows you to get some exercise, which has both physical and mental benefits. A change of scenery also helps to alleviate boredom.
- Sleep In. While a regular sleep schedule is best, sometimes your body just needs a bit more. Recognize that and indulge every now and again. Savor every moment by also taking time to make yourself your favorite breakfast. Mine? Shakshuka – a gratifying and healthy dish made with eggs poached in a tomato-based sauce. This is a recipe I love to make, courtesy of the NY Times.
When Self Care Isn’t Enough
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you may not be able to cope. You may feel sad, burned out or very alone. True self care involves recognizing when traditional ‘self care’ isn’t enough. At this stage, please ask for help. Check in with a friend, a family member or a community group. Call a hotline or reach out to a professional doctor or counsellor (most professionals are seeing patients virtually these days) if you need to. Many of us are suffering due to circumstances bigger than ourselves, but we don’t have to do it alone.