Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Self-Care with a Chronic Illness: Yoga at Lunch with Stacey

It's Arthritis Awareness Month! This month I am challenging you to take a little time each day and practice better self-care. Each day in May, I plan to share one simple way you can show yourself some love and appreciation.

On May 1st, I posted  Self-Care with a Chronic Illness: Holding Each Other Accountable. I asked how often you ask your friends and family, "What are you doing for self-care?" So, I had to ask those in my self-care community.

My self-care journey is one that I share with my sister Stacey. Together we share ideas and motivate each other. Since we live 700 miles apart, we spend a lot of time texting which is self-care for both of us. On this last day of May, there is no other person I would rather leave you with. 
  

Yoga at Lunch
One of the many things I love about my sister is that she is always trying to improve herself and others. As a middle school social worker, that makes sense. 

This school year she set the intention of using her lunch break as time to focus on her own self-care by doing yoga in her office. Allowing herself this time has been a great way to re-energize so she can continue helping as many kids as possible. 

 
 
Extra Surprise!
Stacey is not a blogger so unfortunately you can't find more of her work . She is a full-time social worker, mother, wife, sister, and awesome person.  As a social worker, she helps the young teens she works with to practice self-care. And, since this is our last self-care day in this series, she is sharing her list of self-care practices she uses with her students. Take what works for you. I especially like "Buffet Thoughts"!!!

Got Self Care?  Then you have Coping Skills
Meditation – There are many benefits to meditation.  Check out watchwellcastmeditation on YouTube or a free app called Headspace to find out how to meditate. 
Warm bath or hot shower – warm water can boost your mood.  It triggers responses in your body and mind similar to those triggered by emotional warmth.  Think of your next shower like a  “Liquid Hug”.
Dark Chocolate – Certain chemicals in dark chocolate help relax the blood vessels, which reduce blood pressure.
Repetitive Tasks – Studies show that completing a simple repetitive task allows your brain to pare down and focus.
Five Count Breath – This is a coping skill you can use anywhere.  You simply need to breathe in through your nose for 5, hold for 2 and let the air out of 7.  While taking these 5 breaths you are counting with your fingers and by the fifth breath you should be giving yourself a thumbs up sign.  Thinking about your breath gives your brain a break, allows you to get oxygen to all your muscles and slows down your breathing.
Yoga/Stretching – Muscles get tense under stress and doing Yoga or stretching can loosen them up.  Yoga has been proven to help you feel more mentally alert, happier and healthier.  If done regularly, it can help with lowing stress, lowering blood pressure and help with sleep.  
Talk or Journal – Many people are able to process these ways and hopefully replace negative automatic thoughts or at the very least, get it “off their chest”.
Help Others – Research shows that helping others has a significant positive effect on our happiness.  Some research indicates that it can help us live longer, lowers blood pressure, helps improve grades and self-image and gives us a sense of purpose and satisfaction. 
Regular Contact with Nature/”Forest Bathing” – Just quiet contemplation near trees. Scientifically proven to improve your health. Trees give off an oil that helps our immune system.  Studies found that forests lower our heart and blood pressure and reduce stress hormones.  It can reduce depression while boosting energy.
Sense of Smell – The aromas of spearmint and lavender have proven destressing effects.
Pleasant Imagery – Imagine a peaceful scene that has a calming effect (e.g., you are lying on the beach.  The sun is warm, and there is a slight breeze).  Type in Guided Imagery on Youtube for help.
Gratitude Walk - Take a walk (1, 5, 10 min.) and think of all the things you are grateful for.  No gratitude is too small.
Buffet Thoughts - Imagine your worries on a buffet line and decide which ones and how much you are going to put on your plate.  Ask yourself if you have too much and if there are any thoughts you can leave behind.
Smile – The act of smiling for 20 seconds can trigger positive emotions.  Smiling stimulates the release of neuropeptides that work toward fighting off stress and unleashes a feel-good cocktail of the neurotransmitters.  Smiling is contagious, stimulating unconscious smiling in others.
Progressive Relaxation – Starting with your toes, flex your muscles as tight as you can for 5 to 7 seconds, relax them and do continue up your body, flexing each major muscle up to the top of your head. 
Listen to Music – Happy music that is in rhythm to your heart beat can help us relax.  Songs that promote relaxation, good thoughts or confidence are encouraged.