Self-Care and Stress Management Techniques


I'd like to welcome guest blogger and Health & Fitness Coach - Mari Anne Auwarter

Mari Anne brings a fresh view on how un-resolved stress affects our physical health.  Instead of taking a "band-aid" approach to addressing stress, Mari Anne encourages us to engage in Body Talk!  The best part?  She discusses ways to identify the root-cause!

Here at Pain Free Posture MN these are topics we've blogged about and discussed in legth multiple times! 

As a chronic pain relief, posture restoration and performance enhancement specialist, we truly believe that body does talk to us if are willing to take the time to stop and listen.  Mari Anne provides tips and techniques to assist you in learning to LISTEN to your Body Talk.  Enjoy!

Self-Care: Check Your Thoughts At The Door  

by Mari Anne Auwarter | April 22nd, 2012 

Self-care is such a generic, over-used term these days. 

You’ll hear doctors and other professionals recommending that we take hot baths, get massages, get a manicure, and the list goes on & on.  I’m suggesting something different.   

Not that those things aren’t wonderful & without benefit, but are they getting to the root of what’s causing the stress in the first place? 

Taking a hot bath without looking at the cause of your stress is simply a temporary Band-aid solution.  Why not treat the cause of your stress rather than just treating the symptoms?  Why mask the problem when you can prevent it from happening in the first place?

Be Present in Your Physical Body

Many of us are so busy in our minds that we’ve totally disconnected from our physical bodies.  In fact, some of us are so disconnected that we’re not even always aware of some of most basic sensations like hunger, thirst, hot, cold & tired.

The stress created from our thinking manifests in our bodies.  It ties our shoulders into knots, causes our stomachs to ache, negatively affects our digestion & sets us up for chronic illness. 

Self-care means paying kind attention and noticing when your body is speaking to you.  It will begin with just a whisper, but if you’re not listening the message will become louder and more clear until you have no choice but to listen.

 

Have a hard look at the things you “have to” do

We live in a very action-oriented society that values doing more than being.  We make impossibly long to-do lists with very little thought and intention to how we actually want to move through our day.

When you look at your to-do list, ask yourself some important questions:

  • How many of the things on my list are really, truly important for me to accomplish?
  • What comes to mind when I think of a life well-lived?
  • How many of the things on my list will make me feel happier and more fulfilled?  It may feel satisfying to check things off our to-do lists, but the feeling is usually temporary – and at what cost?
  • What two things do I really want to accomplish today?  Overestimate how much time projects will take and you’ll be much more likely to actually accomplish those things.  If you accomplish more, great, but the result will come without pressure and stress.
  • What projects can I kick to the curb?

To-do lists can be helpful when breaking down big projects into manageable chunks and to help prioritize, but be careful because time management is tricky, and in my experience checking things from my to-do list never leads to feeling of peace or contentment.  Focus only on what truly matters to you and what feels like quality in your day.

Our thinking causes our stress

One of the most common stress-inducing feelings that many of us experience on a regular basis is overwhelm.  Start by paying attention to and identifying what thoughts are causing the feeling of overwhelm.   Thoughts like: “I don’t have enough time.” and “How will I get this all done?” set you up for anxiety and panic.  Immediately, your brain will begin to generate more and more thoughts that support your overwhelm.

What thought could you choose to think instead that would create a better feeling for you?  Try on thoughts like, “I’ll accomplish exactly what I’m meant to today.  The rest doesn’t matter.”  Keep trying different thoughts until you find one that feels good to you.  Sometimes it takes awhile, so just be patient until you find the right thought for you.

Find your own definition of self-care

There are many physiological benefits to taking hot baths and getting massages, so I really do encourage you to do them as often as possible.  I’m only suggesting that along with doing those things it’s important to also understand the real source of your stress in the first place.

Self-care means something different to everyone.  Here’s what it means to me:

  • paying close enough attention so that you know when to give yourself a break.
  • knowing when you’re taking yourself and your life too seriously.
  • knowing you are worthy of your own love and attention.  Thinking that you’re worthy of some down time is just as important as the action of taking down time.
  • noticing and unplugging from negative thought patterns.
  • choosing an attitude of compassion and kindness towards yourself.  Always.
  • accepting that you can’t control everybody and everything.  Let stuff go and be responsible for yourself.
  • creating gaps in your schedule on purpose.
  • choosing only the most meaningful stuff for your life and stop being “busy”.
  • guarding and protecting your leisure time.
  • not letting the clock be a tyrant that rules your life.
  • turning off your cell phone and returning voicemail when it’s convenient for you.
  • learning to appreciate imperfection in yourself and others.
  • giving yourself permission to take a nap when you’re tired (even though you have mountains of laundry to do.)

Go take a hot bath now… It will relax your muscles.

Mari Anne Auwarter is a Health & Fitness Coach specializing in Weight Loss Coaching & helping others live a healthy & active lifestyle with less stress and more joy!