Self-Care Tool Kit
To be honest, I kind of hit a wall the other week.
I just came off of a good but exhausting summer of traveling and speaking, political and social tensions were heating up and I was trying to decipher my place in the resistance, good but significant life changes were happening, I am continuing to heal from abuse, and on top of that I was neck deep in planning for The Courage Conference.
I had been running hard and non-stop for months, ignoring the signals in my body that I needed to rest and practice self-care.
My body kept saying, “You’re tired. You need to slow down and breathe. It’s unrealistic to keep up this pace without a break”. To which my mind responds, “I don’t have time to rest. If I just plow through, it will get better. Resting is lazy. I don’t deserve to rest when so many people need help and support.”
Then it happened.
The thing that always happens when I don’t listen to my body—I crashed. I collapsed into bed and realized that I had to stop and rest. I no longer had a choice. I couldn’t keep up this pace.
I hated it. The guilt was real, but ultimately I gave into what my body needed and I resolved to be more responsible with myself in the future.
Maybe you’ve experienced this kind of thing before. Maybe you have an anxiety disorder or PTSD, or a big life event is coming up. I get it! Sometimes life is overwhelming.
That is why I decided to create this Self Care Tool Kit, for the anxious, triggered, and stressed out. Because we’ve all been there!
Here are 9 tools you can put in your self-care tool bag:
The Calm App
I saw Natalie Greenfield, one of The Courage Conference presenters, post an inspiring quote on Facebook. I liked it so much that I researched the original page is was shared from called Calm. I realized that Calm has a special App for your phone that can be downloaded for FREE. The app includes tools for getting better sleep, reducing Anxiety, and de-stressing. It has features like calming bedtime stories, daily guided meditation, deep breathing courses, calming music and imagery, and inspirational quotes. I downloaded the App and I’m LOVING it! The bedtime sounds and stories help my mind relax for sleep and the morning meditation is helping me center myself instead of jumping into a day full of stress. I’m still trying out this app (there are both free and paid versions), but so far I recommend it!
I’ve long struggled with nightmares, and recently I’ve woken up on a daily basis in a state of terror from a dream. I wake up with my heart racing and anxious thoughts on my mind. Even though my mind knows the dream isn’t real, it takes a while for my body to recognize it. My counselor recommended keeping a box of strong breath mints beside my bed. She explained that a physical sensation like running water over my face, tasting a strong mint, or feeling a tactile comfort item lets my body know that I am awake and helps bring me into the present. I’ve actually found this to be very effective. I’ve used the mints beside my bed several times and it truly helps me re-acclimate after an intense or stressful dream.
This Summer I had the honor of speaking on a panel at the Hot Healthy Habits retreat. At this event, I was introduced to a concept called Intuitive Eating. It’s the idea that our body knows what we need for healthy nourishment if we only listen to it. I’ve since begun to practice intuitive eating, and it is helping me to release guilt and anxiety about food and dieting. And when I listen to my body, it helps me choose foods that make me feel better. Learn More Here.
My husband Will surprised me one day with an afternoon escape to a beautiful walking garden. The garden was filled with gorgeous plants, seasonal flowers, foliage, and natural art work. All of my stress melted right away. Taking a walk always helps, but taking a walk in a lush garden was extra relaxing. A wonderful bonus was that it was FREE, and it fact there are a lot of free gardens that are open to the public. This website helps you find gardens nearby in your state.
For Christmas, Will bought me a beautiful adult coloring book and some blending markers. On a stressful day it can help to keep my hands busy and my mind concentrated on something other than anxiety. You can find FREE downloadable coloring pages here.
Sleep is sometimes viewed as a luxury when in reality it is a necessity. Your body needs sleep to function, and it needs adequate sleep to reduce stress. Sometimes your body needs more sleep than other times. You may need more sleep during a stressful time, or when your body is changing (such as when a woman goes through the menstrual phase). Give yourself permission to rest. This isn’t you being lazy (I struggle with guilt around that), it’s you giving your body what it needs. As I mentioned above, I am trying the Calm App for my bedtime routine and I can tell a difference already. There are other natural sleep remedies people suggest, such as Camomile Tea or Melatonin. If those don’t work, talk to your doctor. There may be something else at play, you may need medication, diet change, or some other treatment to help you get fully rested.
Talk To A Friend
When my anxiety is high, I like to talk with my husband Will or my sister-friend Charlie Olivia. They both listen compassionately without judgment, and help me to see solutions that my anxious mind isn’t capable of seeing in the moment. A talk with a good friend can go a long way… just make sure you are reaching out to a safe person who is really in your corner.
Hug It Out
Hugging releases feel-good hormones like endorphins. Hugging helps relieve stress and anxiety, elevates your mood, and may even relieve some depressive symptoms. A good, long hug with my husband Will always helps me feel a bit better.
Make A List
In the height of stress or anxiety, I start to get tunnel vision. It feels like my mind is frozen and I can’t think of what to do to lift my mood. My husband noticed this, so he asked me to make a list of things that help me when I’m anxious. Now he can remind me of things that help me feel better when I can’t focus enough to remember. He can even implement a few of these things on his own, like planning a surprise afternoon walk. I encourage you to make such a list when you are feeling good, to help you when your body and mind are stressed out.