Self-care: the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.
Now more than ever, we are seeing a rise in stress levels, anxiety, depression and overall negativity. When you think about your own mental health and wellness right now, how are you feeling? If you’re noticing any change in mood, worries, anxiety level, fear, or just an overall shift in the wrong direction when it comes to your mindset, you may need to stop right where you are at and consider your stress levels, how they are impacting you and come up with a self-care plan to healthily manage the many challenges that life has been throwing at us lately.
Think you can just keep pushing through without intentionally taking care of your mind and body? You may want to rethink that after looking a little deeper at what the science says about the effects of stress on our bodies.
The Effects of Stress
Increased cortisol production: Associated with weight gain (especially in the belly), inability to lose weight or gain muscle, premature aging.
Decreased nutrient absorption: Due to decreased enzymatic production from the stomach, pancreas and liver, decreased bile flow from gallbladder, decreased oxygenation and gastrointestinal blood flow.
Increased nutrient excretion: Urinary loss of calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, chromium, selenium, and various microminerals.
Decreased gut flora populations: Healthy intestinal bacteria are destroyed by stress, which can lead to immune problems, skin disorders, nutrient deficiencies, and digestive distress.
Increase in salt retention: Can lead to high blood pressure.
Decrease in thermic efficiency: Your ability to burn calories is diminished.
Decrease in thyroid hormone: Can lead to a decrease in metabolic activity throughout the body.
Increase in blood cholesterol: Stress by itself will raise LDL levels.
Increase in blood platelet aggregation: A major risk factor in heart disease.
Decrease in sex hormones: Can mean lower sex drive, low energy, decreased muscle mass.
Increase in inflammation: The basis of many significant ailments, including brain and heart disease.
Increased swallowing rate: A fast swallowing rate is a likely factor in digestive upset.
Increased hydrochloric acid production: Increases probability of ulcers.
Decrease in growth hormone: A key hormone in growing, healing and rebuilding body tissues; helps to burn fat and build muscle.
Increase in insulin resistance: Chronic low-level stress may cause target cells to become unresponsive to insulin, a factor in diabetes, weight gain, heart disease and aging.
Increase in oxidative stress: Prematurely ages the body; a precursor to numerous diseases.
Increase in risk of osteoporosis: Bone density has been shown to decrease in stressed and depressed women; stress increases urinary excretion of calcium, magnesium and boron.
Decrease in mitochondria: These are the energy powerhouses of the cell; when the number of these tiny cellular organelles are diminished, we literally produce less energy; can lead to chronic fatigue.
Whoa!!! Quite the list, huh? But if that isn’t motivation to get on top of your self-care routine, then I don’t know what is...
Self-care varies from person to person, so you’ll need to dig deep and explore what works for you! Below I’ve listed my top 5 self-care choices that help me manage my stress levels, anxiety, mood and overall positive energy.
Mastering the Morning Routine: Be intentional about your mornings. Get up with enough time to include some simple self-care activities/routines without starting your day feeling the stress of running late/being in a rush. For me, it a simple cup of coffee, tea or warm lemon water, my daily mental affirmations, connection with my son & fiance and usually a workout of choice.
Nightly Bubble Bath: This has become part of my nightly routine & something I look forward to after a busy day. Try adding in some calming lavender or eucalyptus bath salts, a good book or calming music and you've got yourself a great stress reliever and way to wind down each night.
"Feel Good" Podcasts: Find an inspiring podcast that you can't help but feel good after listening too. Try to carve out time each day to listen to an episode or two.
Quiet Journaling/Reading Time: Setting aside simple time to connect with yourself through journaling, or quiet time to lose yourself in your favorite book can be an excellent way to calm your body & mind, as well as bringing joy and balance into your life.
Time with friends & family: For me, time with family and friends is something that I will forever cherish. Nothing makes me feel better than genuine connection and unconditional love.
What are some of your favorite ways to take care of yourself?
PEACE. LOVE. HAPPINESS