Recent research on stress is radically changing how the psychology and health care fields think about stress and how stress affects the body. For decades we’ve thought of stress as the enemy. We’ve been alarmed (and alarmed others) with the multiple ways that stress negatively affects health. New research tells us that stress is not always harmful. We’re beginning to learn the ways in which stress can be beneficial, and what we can do to change our relationship with stress so that it is beneficial.
In her TED talk, “How to Make Stress Your Friend,” and her book, The Upside of Stress, (both of which I can’t recommend highly enough) health psychologist and Stanford researcher Kelly McGonigal synthesizes recent research on stress and offers ideas for how to “get good at stress.” While we usually think of the body’s high-alert fight-or-flight response when we think about stress, there are actually several different kinds of stress response:
In our fast paced world, with so much going on and so many obligations and commitments, the thought of trying to find time for self-care can sometimes seem like another stressor. How to fit self-care into an already crazy-busy schedule? When it seems there already aren’t enough hours in a day to do justice to the different areas of life requiring attention? Here are some ideas for self-care practices that don’t require chunks of time and can be incorporated into your existing routines.
Be gentle with yourself. As with many self-care practices, learning to be kind to yourself is usually a process. I love Kristin Neff’s work on self-compassion. I encourage people to check out her TED talk and her other YouTube videos. It comes as a revelation to some people (as it did to Neff) that this is even an option. It can be a profound and powerful practice. And it’s absolutely free and doesn’t require time or anybody else’s cooperation.
Self-care! These words can evoke so many different responses ---- yumminess, longing, bewilderment, disdain…… And they have so many different meanings to different people. As I use the term here I refer to any
practices that nourish and enhance
your physical, spiritual or emotional wellbeing.
Self-care can be social, solitary, raucous, serene, playful, physically vigorous, meditative, creative, pampering, and more. What constitutes self-care is very subjective. One person’s self-care can be another person’s hell. It’s important to find the practices that work for you. The options are endless, and they can be very simple and cost nothing. Journaling, baking, meditating, walking, reading, dancing, coloring, going to church, taking an improv class, having coffee with a friend, getting adequate sleep, date nights, massage, mani-pedis, yoga, or watching comedy are just a few.
Self-care is a significant contributor to good mental health and quality of life. As a therapis...
A powerful and simple tool to strengthen your relationship is to share appreciations. This is a practice I incorporate into every couples session. It has enormous value to couples working to enhance emotional intimacy.
One way this can be done is as a regular reciprocal practice, in which you set aside five or ten minutes a day to each express and receive an appreciation. Some couples prefer to share appreciations more spontaneously. Either way, try to do it daily.
In the appreciation, acknowledge to your partner either something they have done recently that you feel gratitude for (like doing the grocery shopping), or a quality in them that you’ve been reminded of recently that you value (their sense of humor, their lovingness as a parent, etc). The act or quality you’re appreciating can be something of great import, or seemingly insignificant. Look into your partner’s eyes as you say it. Let it be something wholly positive – not something with a n...