It's very easy for us to get caught up in our day-to-day lives, whether that's feeling overwhelmed at work, studying for finals or that difficult exam at school, financial stress, or that never ending to do list, we often find little time to settle our thoughts. With so much on our mind and so little time to think, it's a perfect combination for insecurities, low self-esteem and self-doubt to settle-in. Do you ever criticize yourself for not meeting certain expectations? It's no wonder that studies are showing low self-esteem in adolescents are at an all time high. In a world where social media provides a window into others lives, we tend to compare our current situation with others "highlight reel", which leads to creating impossibly high standards and expectations for ourselves. These thoughts often lead us to feel vulnerable to that difficult voice in our head that says we are not good enough.
When we are faced with a tough situation and no tools to deal with that situation, we set ourselves up to fall into that rabbit hole of shame and doubt. Its even more difficult in-the-moment to access the tools we need to get through difficult times. When we don't have time to process our thoughts, meaning thinking things through and accessing parts of our brain that can be compassionate and reasonable, we leave ourselves vulnerable to making assumptions and blaming ourselves for things that have happened. When we take time to actually sit down and think things through, the voice of compassion can come in and support the part of you that is struggling. Taking time to find your "center" or place of intuition and enlightenment is crucial to creating peace in your life.
Just like brushing your teeth to maintain good oral hygiene, drinking water to stay hydrated or calling a friend to maintain a friendship, attending to your mind by processing your thoughts, thinking things thoroughly, you can take care of your mental health. A professor once told me to 'find time in your day to experience peace' whether that's 5 mins or 1 hour, finding time to reset and center yourself can have both mental and physical benefits. Here are 10 ways to start:
1. Take a Shower
There's something about a shower that help clarify our thoughts. Whether its the chance to have alone time, feel the comfort and warmth in a small space or feel the sense of cleansing, the shower has a way of making us feel good about ourselves. A change in temperature is also helpful with shifting thoughts, especially when the thoughts are uncomfortable.
2. Go for a walk
There are so many great benefits with walking. Not only is it beneficial for physical health, it helps to change your environment and allow you to get lost in thought, especially when the scenery is beautiful.
3. Sit outside in nature
Engage your senses by sitting outside in nature. Perhaps closing your eyes and engaging your senses or just practice by noticing what you see. There's a feeling of oneness in nature that gives you the sense that you are where you need to be in that very moment.
Writing in a journal allows us to process differently. Writing in a journal can also help to get your thoughts down on paper and you can "leave them there", especially if they are distressful or overwhelming.
5. Focus on your Breathe
Where ever you go, you always have your breath. When you can focus and slow your breath, not only is it nourishing for your body, it helps us to slow our thoughts and refocus. Do you ever notice that you hold your breathe in stressful situations? You'll eventually need to breathe and when you do, do you feel relief?
6. Connect with others
As humans, we long to connect with others. When we are overwhelmed with uncomfortable thoughts, it can be isolating and self defeating. Simply being next to people we love can help pull us out of our heads and remind us of why we care for others and we also are important to others.
7. Share your story
Again, as humans, we want to connect. When we isolate ourselves, we feel alone in our challenges. Sharing your story with others gives you an opportunity to release your story, and that opens the door for others to share and relate. We all struggle and the more we hear about others being "not so perfect", it lets us know we are not alone.
8. Drink a glass of water
There are so many great benefits of drinking water. Not only does it help to stay hydrated, but it feels like a reset button. Like taking a shower, drinking water can help with change of temperature and help with our basic functioning. When we are well nourished with water, food and sleep, we are likely to function better and think clearly.
9. Ask for help
Asking for help is very difficult, especially when you don't want to appear weak or be a burden on others, but guess what, people often are more likely to want to help if you ask for it. Sometimes we take on too much in our day-to-day that the simple task of asking for help can go a long way.
We have a tendency to take care of others more than we take care of ourselves. Self-care can be anything that helps to care for the self. Whether that is taking care of your basic needs, practicing yoga, getting a massage or buying yourself flowers, self-care is beneficial in being compassionate for the self and knowing you deserve it because you've been through tough times or you've worked hard. Self-care can also come in the form of doing something that is really uncomfortable like having an uncomfortable conversation with someone, but its "taking care of the self" that is what matters most.