When everything feels like it is falling apart, we often put our physical and mental well-being on the backburner, when in reality, it is one of the things we should prioritize when in crisis-mode.
There are two types of stress in life: good stress (eustress) and bad stress (distress). Stress is our body’s response to changes that create taxing demands. Eustress is short term, feels exciting, improves our performance, motivates and focuses our energy, and is perceived as being within our coping ability. Physical activity falls under eustress. Distress, on the other hand, is short or long term, causes anxiety, feels unpleasant, decreases our performance, can lead to mental and physical problems, and is perceived as being outside our coping abilities.
So, for example, buying a house or starting a new job can be stressful, but in a good way. It is part of a decision we made, it is exciting, and we are looking forward to the challenges. An injury or job loss is mentally debilitating, feels out of our control, and we are dreading dealing with the issues and outcomes.
During times of distress and crisis, our bodies are overwhelmed, and get stuck in a constant loop of stress. It is at these times that practicing self-care can be most important. I want to distinguish between the more popularized and memed definition of self-care, which is going to the spa or spending money, versus focusing serious attention on caring for our physical, social, mental, spiritual, and emotional states. Here are some things to consider when adopting a self-care regime.
Physical – How are you fuelling yourself? Are you giving yourself enough time for sleep? Are you exercising and stretching regularly? I, of course, prioritise the physical side of self-care. A good night’s sleep, a challenging workout, and a satisfying meal are my daily ways to ensure I’m ready to take on life’s challenges.
Social – How are you engaging, connecting, and feeling supported by those in your social circle? Even if it is through a quick text message, it helps to reach out to others during both stressful and non-stressful times to show we care.
Mental – Are you practicing compassion, kindness and acceptance of yourself and others? Are you setting aside time to meditate or read? Compassion and kindness are my go-to tools, especially when it comes to myself.
Spiritual – This isn’t necessarily religion. Are you taking time to create deeper connections to yourself and the universe? It might seem cheesy or cliché, but there’s a sense of value and creativity in asking questions that reveal how you see the world, the universe, and your place in it.
Emotional – Are you acknowledging your feelings? Are you accepting yourself and how you feel? Are you giving yourself time to recharge your emotional battery? This one can be hard for many of us, myself included, when I give all my emotional energy over to others because I want to take care of them. Make sure you give that back to yourself as well.
Incorporating these things into your day to day or week to week routine will help prepare you, and make you more resilient the next time distress comes your way. Don’t forget to create calm in your mind and personal space. Focus on what is important and seek support when needed.
Do what you can with what you have where you are, and always prioritize the positive.
Melissa Sloos is a certified group fitness instructor, spin instructor and co-owner at Coast Fitness.