New Year, New Habits
December 29, 2020
The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to reassess and form new habits that improve our lives. Many throw the term “self-care” around – but what does that really mean? Stress, both physical and emotional, manifests itself in the body through headaches, low energy, digestive issues, muscle tenseness, and trouble sleeping. Self-care incorporates techniques that help you work through your stress. The key is to provide an outlet for the stress to work through your body, rather than just numbing out the pain through sedentary activities like binging a whole season of a show on a streaming service.
As a mental health organization, we’re all about self-care here. Our staff recently brainstormed ways we all maintain our own self-care. Not all of these will work for everyone, but we hope some may spark an interest for you!
Get your daily dose of exercise
Exercising regularly helps your body produce stress-relieving hormones and improves your overall health. Get outside and spend time in nature. Go for walks, hikes, or bike rides, even if it’s raining or snowing. Pacific Northwest weather is unpredictable, but as the adage goes, there is no bad weather: just bad gear. If the weather is truly nasty, stay indoors and move your body in other ways: lift weights, find yoga videos online, try basic breathing and meditation exercises. It’s amazing how moving your body can lift your spirit and change your mood!
Leave work at work
As remote working becomes a norm, it’s easy for us to constantly feel on call. Set boundaries for yourself to prevent burnout. If you’re working from home, be intentional about your work space. Keep work items in a box or crate, and only take them out during office hours. Only check your work email during normal work hours – that means taking email off your cell phone! Simulate a commute for yourself to decompress the work day by taking a 10-20 minute walk or bike ride.
Even if you’re not working from home, be intentional about how many hours you’re working. Get up every hour and take a walk around your office – short, frequent breaks can shift your mindset and boost your productivity.
Focus on creativity
Creativity has been confirmed to improve overall wellbeing. Creative activities aren’t limited to painting, composing, and writing – though all of those things certainly count. Coding, gardening, coloring, cooking – all of these activities tap into your creative side. Engaging in these activities increases positive moods, lowers stress, and decreases anxiety. Try your hand at writing a poem, having a dance party, singing in the shower, playing the piano, or doing puzzles or word games. Sometimes you just need to find an activity to lose yourself in – to live in a different space in your mind.
Socialize with your people
Humans are built for community. Maybe you can’t socialize how you normally would right now, but there are still plenty of ways to connect with your people. Try out apps like House Party or Jackbox to play games virtually with family. Find a recipe you can cook together and share a meal over video. Bundle (and mask) up and go for a socially distant walk with a friend. Find that person you can talk to who can just listen, and give them a call. There’s plenty of room for creativity here, too!
Go to therapy
Yes, even therapists have their own therapists. Having a safe space to work through anxiety, depression, trauma and stress helps you live a healthier, more fulfilling life. Sessions focus on problems, experiences, thoughts, feelings, or relationships, and may involve learning new skills, trying out new behaviors, working through old issues, or letting go of behaviors that no longer serve health or well-being. You and your therapist will establish personalized goals that take into account emotional, physical, and even spiritual dimensions of your life.
Therapists at The Northwest Catholic Counseling Center (NCC) have a variety of specialties to help you through your issues. Call us at 503-253-0964 for a short intake!
– Kim Berberich, Development and Outreach Associate