Self-Care During Stressful Times (How Important?)


A lavender purple background, Galeano massage logo, hazy white profile of a face, gray stormy clouds, hot pink lightning, with the words family, work, bills, illness, cooking, cleaning, self-care, me time, relax, leisure, and de-stress.

It may be hard to stop and do something for yourself when you are going through a lot of stress, but that’s exactly when you will hear people tell you to take care of yourself the most.

As a general rule, self-care is extremely important during stressful times. While each person is unique, self-care during times of stress will enable you to handle more while maintaining more mental and emotional well-being.

Why is self-care during difficult, stressful times so important? Let’s explore this topic to learn why and how we can take care of ourselves when under stress.

The Effects of Acute and Chronic Stress

All of us undergo times of stress and different points in our lives. Sometimes the amount of stress is greater than at other times. Stress itself isn’t a bad thing. With challenge comes growth. Undergoing stress can allow us to grow as individuals with greater mental and emotional strength. It allows us to learn who we are and what we’re capable of.

It’s very natural for stress to come and go in our lives. This is what is called acute stress. No, this type of stress isn’t “cute” at all, but it isn’t permanent. It is stress that temporarily stays present, and like a good house guest, it doesn’t overstay its welcome.

Chronic stress is when stress becomes more of a permanent feature in our lives. This is when stress becomes bad. We don’t want stress lingering around for too long and setting up house. This can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion and health problems such as chronic inflammation, insomnia, anxiety, depression, burnout, cardiovascular disease, etc…

An example of this is: You’re at work one day in a meeting, and your boss asks you, with an accusatory tone, to explain the recent report you just turned in, in front of all your coworkers. You feel a surge of cortisol and adrenaline, your palms get sweaty, your heart beats faster, and you have more rapid, labored breathing. You give a reasonable explanation, and the boss accepts your explanation even though he doesn’t agree. The rest of the day at work goes pretty smoothly. You get in your car after work and drive home. You no longer feel the racing heart or sweaty palms, and you can continue with your life as usual.

This is an example of acute stress. It came and it went. However, if things didn’t go so well and your boss kept picking on you, you had confrontations with your co-workers, your car broke down on the way home, and you had a fight with your husband and kids when you got home, and you’re still having rapid, shallow breathing, sweating, and a faster heartbeat, this is when your stress has become chronic and so has your stress response.

What Does Self-Care During Stressful Times Look Like?

You can’t always control your exposure to stressful things but you can help to control your stress response. Learning how to lower your stress response will help to prevent the more serious effects of chronic stress. This is where self-care comes in. Using self-care to lower the amount of stress you feel can help you while enduring difficult times.

Self-care is the deliberate practice of taking care of oneself through activities, practices, and habits that promote personal well-being. Self-care is anything that you do or don’t do that feels good to you and helps you to recharge your batteries. So, this is why it’s so uniquely individual. What feels good to one person won’t feel good to the next.

Self-care activities that you may enjoy:

  • Listening to relaxing music
  • Stretching
  • Self-massage
  • Getting a professional massage
  • Lounging or walking in nature
  • Journaling
  • Swimming
  • Going to the beach
  • Playing with animals
  • Origami
  • Painting
  • Drawing
  • Enjoying a hot cup of coffee or tea
  • Eating feel-good food
  • Taking a bath
  • Aromatherapy
  • Acupressure massage
  • Diaphragmatic breathing exercises

These are just some examples. Try to think about what makes you feel reinvigorated and energized. We’re looking to restore lost energy. These would be things that you enjoy, not to make someone else feel good. Just at this moment, you are focusing on yourself.

You don’t necessarily need to use large chunks of time to do self-care. Just think of sprinkling in minutes of self-care throughout your day. You can even perform some self-care activities while doing other things, like playing relaxing music while you work and diffusing aromatherapy essential oils while you’re cleaning the house.

How to Prepare for Self-Care Before Stressful Events Occur

It’s never too late to start thinking about your self-care, but the best time is before chaos happens. When you are in a cycle of stress, it is very difficult for the mind to think logically. This is the effect of cortisol and adrenaline at work. When in a stress response, your brain loses much of its ability to perform practical thinking and memory recall. So, it’s a good idea to be prepared before the stress comes.

When You Fail to Plan…You Plan to Fail

Winston Churchill

One day I asked my mental health professional what I could do to stay calm when everything and everyone around me was going crazy. She said, “Your self-care. It wasn’t my custom to be calm when feeling stressed. The problem is that I felt somehow responsible for what was happening around me and that I needed to constantly take it to heart to try to fix everything and everyone. I wasn’t playing this time around, so I stocked up on all the things that I knew would make me feel restored.

I got a massage gun, aromatherapy oil set, aromatherapy diffuser with color therapy lights, gua sha tools, face roller, teas, quality skin oils, my favorite Trader Joes Belgium Dark Chocolate, face treatments, face and body cupping tools. Plus, I make myself take breaks in between working, terminating working earlier, and taking alone time when I feel overwhelmed. Practicing self-care has definitely made a difference in my life!

What about you? Can you invest in yourself and make a little “de-stress kit” with all your favorite products that feel good to you? Learning that when you notice the symptoms of stress it’s time to take a break from life to refill your cup will be crucial to making your self-care a priority.

Don’t fall into the trap of neglecting your own needs when life gets crazy. The result isn’t worth it! Practicing self-care is crucial to your happiness and health.


MEDICAL DISCLAIMER

The content in this article is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a trained qualified physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Galeano Massage nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, or supplements or those diagnosed with a medical illness should consult their physicians before implementing any of the self-care advice in this article.


Sarah

I've been practicing Massage Therapy since 2014. I'm a health and wellness enthusiast. I'm always learning and experimenting with different techniques, recipes, and healing modalities. I believe that we need to approach health and wellness from a WHOLE-listic point of view and understand that it will constantly be changing and is never stagnant. We are all unique and what works for one person will not necessarily work for another person. As I grow, change, and experiment I will share what I have learned as it may help someone else in need.

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