SELF-CARE FOR STRESS REDUCTION
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
A simple and easy way to release tension and relax.
Listen to this video to learn the practice of progressive muscle relaxation
Breathing Exercises for Relaxation
Watch: Dr. Andrew Weil teach the 4-7-8 breathing technique to reduce stress
Learn about Mindfulness
Watch: Jon Kabat-Zin, who developed the mindfulness based stress reduction program (MBSR), and started the wave of mindfullness reseach in the 1970s.
Learn the Body Scan
Listen to Jon Kabat-Zin to learn the Body Scan
How to Start a Gratitude Journal
We are learning more about the positive effects of gratitude, such as its ability to reduce stress and increase overall wellbeing, from the promising new research that is being published.
Learn about Brother David, survivor of the Nazi occupation, whose mission is to teach about the power of being grateful.
Watch: A Good Day, with Brother David to learn about the importance of being grateful.
Watch: Brother David on Ted Talks about gratefullness and the human desire to be happy.
Take Your Shoes Off (aka Earthing)
Grounding to the Earth’s electrical energy can have healing benefits. Scientific research over more than a decade indicates that your body can be protected and helped—and that you feel better—when you electrically reconnect to the Earth. That is, when you are grounded.
When you are electrically grounded, you feel:
- Less tense
- Less stressed
Read more about this fascinating research by visiting The Chopra Center website.
Move Your Body
Whether it is going for a walk, dancing in your home, or learning the ancient practice of yoga, we know that moving our bodies improves our mental health and overall well-being.
Huffpost article: 9 Great Yoga YouTube channels
Watch: Qigong practice
There is quite a bit of research to support the health benefits of being in nature, but many of us know this intuitively.
Cornell reported that as little as 10 minutes a day in nature helps students elvate their moods and feel less stressed out. Read more here.
Nature Improves Psychological Well-Being (from Positive Psychology)
- Recent investigations revealed that being outdoor reduces stress by lowering the stress hormone cortisol. Besides that, it also makes us immune to allied problems like hypertension and tachycardia (Lee J, 2011).
- Nature walks and other outdoor activities build attention and focus (Hartig, 1991). There are pieces of evidence that indicate strong environmental connections to be related to better performance, heightened concentration, and reduced chances of developing Attention Deficit Disorder.
- A study at the University of Kansas found that spending more time outdoors and less time with our electronic devices can increase our problem-solving skills and improve creative abilities.
Get creative with watercolor, play with clay, or color with pastels. Being creative helps us get into the present moment and relax.
Listen to Calming Music
These days we have access to thousands of songs, so find music that helps you relax. Play music in your home to create a calm atmosphere, or before you go to sleep.
Watch comedies on TV. Humor is a powerful way to reduce stress and improve our mood.
Learn about Self-Compassion
Self Compassion, according to Dr. Kristin Neff, self-compassion researcher, has three main elements:
- Self-kindness or having the ability to refrain from harsh criticism.
- The ability to recognize your own humanity or the fact that each of us is imperfect and each of us experiences pain.
- The ability to maintain a sense of mindfulness or non-biased awareness of experiences, even if they are painful.
Access Dr. Neff's guided meditations and exercises to learn more.
5 Self-Care Practices for Every Area of Your Life
Keys to Well-Being
Professor Gail Kinman, a chartered psychologist and an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society, shares three tips a day for the five days of the working week on things that you can do to de-stress and promote a healthy mind, body and soul.
It’s a universally acknowledged truth that no one likes Mondays, so you need to begin your day calmly.
- Try relaxing for two minutes before your students arrive in the morning. Visualise the day ahead going as well as possible because this is good for the soul.
- At the first break of the day step out of auto-pilot and clear your mind by eating a piece of fruit mindfully. Focus on the experience of eating without multi-tasking or your mind wandering.
- After work or during lunch go for a walk on your own. Focus on what you see, smell, hear, taste, and feel. Don’t use the time to make plans or dwell on problems.
Tuesday is a good day to pay attention to the early signs that you are becoming stressed.
- Think about how the week is going and watch for things that are starting to worry you. This will help you spot your trigger points and take remedial action.
- Half way through the day, why not reduce muscle tension? Tense your shoulders without straining, then relax while breathing deeply. Feel the stress fading away.
- Tuesday should be a day for forgiveness. Most of us store up many negative emotions that could be released by forgiving ourselves and others.
You’re bang in the middle of the week and making sure you feel refreshed is important; sleep is vital.
- Avoid the enemies of sleep. Keep a regular sleep schedule, have a relaxing bedtime routine, eat healthily and get regular exercise.
- Try the three-minute breathing space during lunchtime. Sit comfortably and focus on your breath. Your mind will wander, gently bring it back.
- You could also take a five-minute lunchtime vacation. Picture yourself in the most relaxing place you can imagine. You will feel more refreshed on your return.
The best medicine for a happy Thursday is laughter; have a giggle with colleagues or listen to your favourite comedy show.
- Laughing has wide-ranging benefits, improving cardiovascular health and helping you connect with others so start the day with a chuckle.
- Challenge negative self-talk. Work on reducing the “should/shouldn’t/must” statements to reduce stress and increase confidence.
- Identify a buffer zone. Respite from work demands is essential for health and performance. What can you do after work to help you recover?
When Friday arrives it is time to switch off that mental filter. You’re almost at the weekend and it’s time to relax and wind down from work.
- Make sure you eat regularly and stay hydrated. This is particularly important (but less likely) when we are busy and stressed.
- Think positive. Focusing on your negative traits and behaviours means that you turn a blind eye to your positive qualities.
- Make a list of things that help you relax. Then choose one and do it without feeling guilty.
“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” - Eleanor Brownn