Bleary-eyed and barely awake, I typically start the day with snoozing my phone alarm, scanning headlines, or checking my inbox. It's, of course, the opposite of nourishing. Maybe you, too, find yourself mindlessly scrolling Facebook, reading your email, or ruminating about your too-long to-do list. And naturally you feel tired, drained, and weary before your feet even hit the floor.
It's hard to feel good, relaxed, or comfortable when our bodies are tight, tense, and sore. And with life turned upside down, you're probably feeling a lot more aches and pains lately. Our bodies are weary, but our brains might be buzzing with all kinds of worries, making it tougher to unwind. Thankfully, there are many simple ways we can ease the physical tension, sending soothing signals throughout our bodies (and our minds).
The weekend is a great time to incorporate self-care practices---even if your Saturday and Sunday are jam-packed with kids' activities, additional work, or chores. Because self-care comes in all different shapes, sizes, and stripes---from moving our bodies for an hour to acknowledging how we feel in a single moment.
Many of us have a complicated, joyless, or downright dark relationship with exercise. We think of exercise as a chore or punishment---for eating too much, for eating the wrong foods, for being too big, too small, not enough. We start hyper-focusing on calories and pounds and heavier dumbbells and increasing reps. We view exercise as a savior that'll correct our supposed flaws and finally help us to become worthy. When we don't exercise, we call ourselves unmotivated, lazy, and defective.
We tend to view stress as a terrible thing. After all, stress sparks or leads to all sorts of health concerns and conditions. But while stress can be harmful, the real problem often resides in our perception of stress. We can protect against the negative effects of stress by viewing stressful situations as challenges we can overcome or lessons we can grow from.
When we're feeling stressed out and lonely, one of the best things we can do is to help someone else. Research shows that volunteering boosts physical health, mental wellness, life satisfaction, self-esteem, and happiness. Helping others provides us with a sense of purpose and meaning. It also might lower symptoms of depression and psychological distress. And it might even help us to live longer.
Right now, there’s a pile-up of stressors. On top of the regular challenges of life, we're dealing with a pandemic and so much uncertainty: Will kids go back to full-time, face-to-face school in the fall? Will we be able to travel internationally or take a cruise? Will we shake hands and see our families? Will we return to our offices? Will life ever look the same?
You scroll social and see a bunch of smiles (and coordinating outfits). People celebrating summer and successfully working from home. People promoting their exciting projects. People standing in bright white, shiny kitchens with no clutter in sight. People eating their delicious, complicated creations from the super fresh ingredients taken from their super fresh backyard garden.
Now that we've spent many months inside---which may last longer depending on your work situation and your kids' camp and school situations---having a serene home seems especially essential. And it might feel especially impossible because you're also tired and worn out.
When our loved ones are struggling with a stressful situation, it's hard to know what to say or what to do. We don't want to offend them or make them feel uncomfortable. Or maybe the truth is we don't want to make ourselves feel uncomfortable, because we have a hard time sitting with anyone's pain (including our own).