Self Care

Take Care of Yourself | Take Care of Each Other

Protecting Yourself Protects Others

Just as we can pick up other people's stress, they can pick up ours. When we talk about taking care of ourselves and putting measures in place to protect ourselves from stress, it’s not just for our benefit. It’s for ourselves and for everyone else around us. 

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3 Easy Strategies You Can Use to Protect Yourself From Secondhand Stress

Just like how you protect your immune system from secondhand smoke by hanging out in non-smoking areas, you also need to find strategies to protect your emotional immune system. Here are three simple strategies you can use to stop yourself from falling victim to secondhand stress!

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What Is Secondary Stress?

The thing is, as human beings, we can quite literally pick up on and absorb one another’s emotions, just like we can take in secondhand smoke.

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Are You At Risk For Secondary Stress?

Caretakers, mental health professionals, health care workers, social workers, officers and teachers among others all belong to at-risk groups.

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Why You Should Practice Mindfulness

To be mindful means to be fully aware of the present moment without judgement of your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Mindfulness is linked to reducing feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression while improving rest, focus, and prosocial behavior. Learn more about the importance of mindfulness here.

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Your Brain on Mindfulness

Neuroplasticity highlights the idea that our brains are constantly being reshaped throughout our lives through our experiences and our thoughts. This means by cultivating a self care and stress management practice, we can actually train our brains to be more calm, focused, and relaxed. Learn more about your brain and mindfulness here.

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Stress & The Stress Response

Learn about stress, the stress response, and why we need to manage it.

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Sun Breath

Spending hours working or playing at the computer may seem like no big deal, but maintaining static positions for long periods of time can lead to repetitive stress injuries. Incorporating this exercise into your routine can reduce hand pain and wrist pain, and keep your forearms, hands, and wrists functioning properly.

 

Neck Movements

A few benefits of neck movements are that they can…

  • help to loosen up and reduce the heaviness and stiffness around the shoulders, back of the neck, eyes, and head.
  • reduce pain by increasing the blood flow to your neck muscles.
  • reduce spasms by stretching out your neck muscles.
  • help prevent further stress on your neck muscles by building strength and endurance.
  • help relieve migraines. 

Be sure to take it easy here if you suffer from neck injuries.

 

3 Ways to Have a More Effective Affirmation Practice

Negative self-talk can increase feelings of anxiety and even lead to depression. It can also increase cortisol, your body’s stress hormone, and have negative effects on both your mind and body. Working to shift to using positive self-talk and affirmations can lessen negative self-talk and bring these additional benefits to your life. Consider these three tips as you establish your affirmations practice.

 

1. Set a Goal/Outcome

Affirmations work best when they are targeting a specific goal or outcome. The affirmations could have a set deadline such as finishing a project on time. It could also be ongoing, such as feeling more confident in your career. An outcome will help give real application in your daily life.

 

2. Repeat & Repeat 

For affirmations to work, you need to expose yourself to them often. Say it out loud and proud. The more you say it, the more your brain is encouraged to visualize the positive outcome.

 

3. Do The Work 

Yes, affirmations are powerful, but saying them is only half the battle. They need to have an action component for them to truly be effective. Use your affirmations as a guide for the change you want to see. If you are speaking that you are in a new role – begin showing up as the person deserving of that role.

3 Ways to Practice Gratitude

Expressing gratitude can have significant benefits on our overall well-being. It can help us think more positively, experience more positive emotions, and even improve our physical health. Consider incorporating these practices into your routine to begin reaping the benefits of a regular gratitude practice. 

 

The Morning 3! 

Start your mornings by thinking of three things you’re grateful for. The more specific you can get, the better! This is also a great place to start for those of you who find the breathing exercises a bit more challenging.

 

Make it Count 

Sit up nice and straight. Take a few deep breaths, and count 10 things that you are grateful for. Extend one finger for each one. Once you’re finished, both hands will be open and you may find yourself feeling a little more grateful.

 

Peak and Pit 

Try this at the dinner table or the next time you’re chatting with a friend. Ask them to tell you the peak and pit of their day. What went well and what is something they wish had gone better? 

 

Tip: You may be able to help them find a way to turn the pit into a positive by asking them what the experience is teaching them?

Unhelpful Patterns of Thinking

Positive thinking is important for success in all areas.  Avoid these negative patterns of thinking to avoid falling into a downward spiral of negativity. 

All or Nothing Thinking: Black-and-white thinking. It sounds like, “If I don’t do this right, I’m a failure.” 

Overgeneralization: Seeing a pattern based on a single event or being overly broad. It sounds like, “I never win” or “Nothing good ever happens to me.”

Jumping to Conclusions: This can be two things. Thinking you know what others are thinking or thinking you can predict the future.

Mental Filter: Noticing our failures, but not seeing our successes.

Disqualifying the Positive: Discounting the good things that have happened or that you’ve done; thinking it doesn’t count.

Emotional Reasoning: Assuming because we feel a certain way, what we think must be true. It sounds like, “I feel embarrassed so I must be an idiot.”

Catastrophizing or Minimizing: Blowing things out of proportion or making them seem less important. 

Should Statements: Using words like “should/must/ought” which make us feel guilty or like we’ve failed.

Journal Prompts for Managing Thoughts & Feelings

Your thoughts and feelings are always changing. It’s important to know this because when you’re feeling angry or sad, you know that you won’t always feel that way. It will eventually change. And when you’re really happy, you won’t try to make it last forever, because that’s impossible.

Everything changes. 

Have you ever felt really down or sad and felt like things would always be that way?

No matter how strong those feelings are, something shifts and you realize with time that those feelings have changed. That’s the nature of our emotions; they give us information but they are not who we are. 


JOURNAL PROMPTS: 

  • Think of the last time you were excited (alternatively: worried or sad). How long did that last?

 

  • Reflect on a difficult moment from your past. Now that it’s in the past, was there some benefit to this experience? What did you learn from it?

 

  • Write down the things that are causing stress, fear, and anxiety right now. Once you are done, turn the page, and write down the things that are bringing you joy.