Self-Care Strategies that WorkWe often get caught up in the illusion of progress. We’re so busy trying to solve problems that we’re stuck in “doing mode”—trying to get more and more done—but switching to “being mode” may be really be the break we need. Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is to put our obligations aside for a bit in the spirit of self-care.

When we’re stressed, self-care is usually the first thing to go.  As our brains go into fight-or-flight mode, our perspective narrows. We don’t see that we have options for coping with stress and making ourselves feel better.  We take on more and more, working at a mad pace to meet our obligations. But the fact is, self-care is a crucial part of over overall wellness and should never be neglected. It needs to become a habit, too, so that when we’re dealing with stress, we say to ourselves, “I need to take care of myself in this situation.”

Fortunately, there are plenty of pathways to self-care, and they don’t have to be difficult or take a lot of planning:

Sensory: When you feel stressed, try focusing on the sensations around you—sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and touch. It will help you to focus on the present moment, giving you a break from your worries. For example, you could:

  • Snuggle under a cozy blanket.
  • Take a hot shower or a warm bath.
  • Get a massage.
  • Cuddle with a pet.
  • Burn a scented candle.

Pleasure: A great way to take care of yourself when you’re coping with stress is to engage in an enjoyable activity. Try one of these ideas:

  • Watch a movie.
  • Do a craft project.
  • Journal.
  • Try an interesting new recipe.
  • Curl up with a good book.

Social: Connecting with others is an important part of self-care. It can be very therapeutic to remember that others go through similar experiences and difficulties that you’re not alone. Acknowledging that we’re all part of this human experience can lessen isolation and lead to a calmer mind. Consider engaging in activities such as:

  • Having a lunch date with a close friend.
  • Calling a family member or friend.
  • Participating in a book club.
  • Joining a support group.
  • Connecting through Facetime, Skype, or social media.

Even if severe winter weather has you feeling cooped up and stressed out, there are plenty of self-care strategies you can employ to improve your mood and increase your serenity. You can’t always control the circumstances that life throws your way, but you can control how well you take care of yourself.