Taking Care of Yourself Reduces Stress

This last December, I made a series of posts on social media about common stressors during the holiday season and how to deal with them. However, while these stressors are particularly prominent during the holidays, they appear year-round.

These four stressors are time, money, social expectations, and mental health. For these challenges there are common-sense strategies that focus on being intentional about taking care of yourself.

1. Be kind to yourself when deciding how you are going to spend your time.

There are many demands for our time. Work, family, friendships, chores, and volunteering are just some examples of the commitments we make. But remember:

We can’t be all in when we’re in it all.

When we over-extend ourselves, we burn out. Strive for a healthy balance that works for you (not 50/50) between work and play, activity and rest, and alone time and socialization.

Self-care is not being selfish. Attend to the basics by prioritizing time for sleep, nutrition, hydration, and movement. Schedule in time to rest and relax.

Effectively managing your To-Do list is a skill. Learn to organize and prioritize; practice making decisions that fit your priorities.

Difficulty with time management is one of the top challenges my clients bring to me. I help them take ownership of their schedule so that they feel in charge.


2. Make financial decisions using logic, not just an emotional reaction.

Planning is a very important part of this topic. Pay attention to your money by keeping track of what you have and what you spend.

Many of us buy things based on how we think they will make us feel. Decide using the awareness of the emotion alongside the factual status of your finances and goals.

It’s important to have a healthy relationship with your money—honoring your budget is honoring yourself. Be intentional about the things you spend money on. Our mindset around money impacts savings, spending, and investing. A positive relationship with money is key.


3. Meet social expectations by focusing on what is within your control and asking yourself what you really want to do.

Social obligations can increase stress. While time with family and friends may provide joy, it can also be challenging.

People pleasing is a habit that creates a huge amount of stress. When we prioritize other people’s happiness over our own, we can become resentful and sad.

Avoid perfectionism. It is an unattainable goal that is often based on worry about what others will think of us. Comparison is a common stress trap.

Practice healthy boundaries. Learn to say, “No thanks,” and, “I’m not available.” There is no need to over-explain why you are unavailable.

Limit or avoid toxic/unhealthy environments.


4. See taking care of mental health as a priority.

Practice taking care of your emotions: identify and name your feelings, regulate the intensity (pause and calm yourself before acting), process the emotion in a healthy manner, and communicate effectively.

Take responsibility for your own thoughts, feelings, and actions and allow other adults to do the same. Their mental health is not your responsibility.

As humans, we experience a full range of emotions both positive and negative. Know that it is okay to feel sadness or frustration, but also allow yourself to find joy in things that you love.

We won’t hesitate to seek medical help when we experience a physical ailment—treat your mental health the same way.

As both a Clinical Social Worker and a Certified Life Coach, I can assess the level of services that are appropriate for any individual. Reach out to me with any questions.

Stress is the feeling of an intense emotion. By taking care of those emotions in a helpful rather than hurtful way, we can experience life with more joy, happiness, and connection with others.

We all know when we decrease our stress, we not only feel better, but we show up better for our partner, our kids, our extended family, our work, and most importantly, for ourselves.

We feel happier and more connected to others.