Ten Self-Care Rituals to Reduce Stress
Self-care rituals have never been more important than it is right now. This past year has been a challenge filled with ups and downs for many. Taking time to care for our wellbeing, both physical, mental, and emotional, is a wonderful gift we can give to ourselves and to those we love.
Here are ten simple self-care rituals to reduce stress.
Scented candles or aromatherapy diffusers are wonderful ways to fill your home with a fragrance that calms, inspires, or simply makes you happy. Lavender, cedar, sandalwood, and eucalyptus are ideal for inducing relaxation and fall scents like autumn leaves, evergreen, and cinnamon apple can invoke a seasonal stress-reducing atmosphere. Diffusers are ideal for bedroom spaces, as they evoke a subtle aroma using mist and can be left on while sleeping.
2. Forest Bathing
There is nothing more serene than immersing yourself in nature. Forest bathing is a practice of fully engaging oneself in the natural world. It is all about slowing down and taking notice. Getting into nature is not about doing but being. This practice helps boost immunity, clear the clutter from your mind, and wash away stress. You may find yourself entering a meditative state, another beneficial self-care practice.
Take a leisurely walk or a hike, sit outdoors and enjoy a warm drink, go for a bicycle ride. Notice the crisp air, clouds scudding across a blue sky, grasses bending in the breeze, breathe in the fresh air, and watch as colorful leaves flutter to the ground. To learn more about forest bathing, read this great article by NPR.
3. Acupressure Mats
Acupressure is a Traditional Chinese Medicine technique used to release blocked energy in the body. Covered with thousands of plastic points, acupressure mats are designed to stimulate an acupressure massage by applying pressure to points on the back. It may take some time to get accustomed to using one of these mats but once you do, it can promote rest and relaxation along with relieving pain and aid in muscle recovery.
Meditation is all about present moment awareness. It has long been proven to alleviate stress, anxiety, and high blood pressure. It clears the mind, reminds us to breathe, and offers a few minutes of quiet tranquility.
For those who are meditation novices, there are many short, guided meditations on YouTube. Apps like Calm and Headspace. Or, check out Oprah Magazine’s list of their best meditation apps for anxiety.
5. Take a Nap
Naps may feel luxurious and indulgent, but they offer a number of benefits for adults. They boost mood, reduce stress and fatigue, increase alertness, creativity, and productivity.
To make the most from a nap, keep it to no longer than 20 minutes and avoid slumbering after 3pm. The prime time to nap is right after eating lunch when your energy natural ebbs. Location is important. It should be comfortable and a place with no distractions – including cell phones.
For more nap tips, click here.
6. Get Creative
Tapping into our creativity helps us move from our logical left brain, where stress and anxiety reside, to our imaginative right brain. Being creative is in large part about letting go and getting in a flow. This creativity can be tapped in many ways. For those of us that aren’t as in touch with our creative side, try paint by numbers, adult coloring books, Zentangle, or collage. Again, YouTube is a fantastic resource for ideas and How To videos.
7. Read a Good Book
There is something special about losing yourself in a great book. It can be fiction, nonfiction, a memoir, or biography. It transports you to another place and away from reality, if only for a moment. Reading reduces stress, increases knowledge, improves our memory and much more.
For those who use ereaders, the Santa Clara County Library District has many ebooks available for download (and you can get an e-library card instantly online.) They also have numerous audiobooks for those who prefer to listen. Not sure what to read? They also have a list of top picks for all genres, or you can check out GoodReads, a community of avid readers that rate and review all types of books.
There is a reason for the saying laughter is the best medicine. Laughing triggers a myriad of positive physical and emotional shifts. According to the Mayo Clinic, laughing is one of the best ways to relieve stress and sooth away tension.
Watch a funny movie, listen to your favorite comedian perform, indulge in a side-splitting half-hour comedy television show, or search for some comedic relief on YouTube
9. Listen to Music
Music holds a powerful influence on humans. There is music for every mood, season, culture, and generation. The mood-boosting benefits of music are many including amplifying our energy or inducing a state of peace and tranquility. Bustle has created playlists to fit a variety of self-care rituals. Of course, you can do the same with iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, or YouTube.
10. Cuddle with Your Person or Your Pet
Snuggling up with your partner, children, or pet gives us a sense of connection, immediately releasing endorphins that wash away stress. You can cuddle while watching TV, reading books together, or chatting about your day. Be it person or animal, snuggling has a positive impact on our immune system, makes you feel secure, and helps you sleep.
As we enter the holiday season, take time to care for you. Self-care rituals don’t have to be expensive or indulgent. Rather, it is often the simple things that help ground us, allowing us to release tension, minimize stress, and find moments of peace and relaxation