Thursday | April 25, 2013
Take 10 for Self-Care
Both Mother’s Day (May 12) and Nurses Week (May 6 to 12) are celebrated in May. These two groups of people often do so much for others without taking the time for self-care. May 6 to 12 is also Mental Health Week. So to recognize all of the caregivers in our lives, we have come up with ten ways to reduce stress in ten minutes or less.
1. Test Your Stress: People are not always aware of how stressed they are or how their behavior can contribute to their stress load. This quick stress test from the Canadian Mental Health Association can help you to identify your level of stress and some actions to help you manage better, for example, by getting adequate sleep
2. Lets Get Physical: Exercise reduces stress due to the release of endorphins (brain chemicals that increase feelings of pleasure) and because it focuses our minds and improves our mood according to the staff at the Mayo Clinic. Some of us think that if we don’t have time to go to the gym and work out for an hour, it’s not worth putting in the effort. However, a study conducted by researchers at the U.S. National Cancer Institute showed that even a little bit of exercise (about 75 minutes per week) could contribute toward two years of added life expectancy, compared to getting no leisure-time activity.
3. Chant “OM”: Mindfulness meditation, popularized in North America by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a scientist, writer, and meditation teacher, has been shown to help reduce stress. Don’t worry. You don’t have to sit cross-legged for hours to benefit. Andy Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk and writer with the Huffington Post and the co-founder of Headspace, a project aimed at demystifying meditation, exalts the rewards of meditating for 10 minutes a day. The Whisper Room and Midnight Meditation Room at Elmwood Spa provide a perfect setting for taking some meditative moments.
4. Check your work benefits: Some employers are becoming more aware of how important wellness is among their employees. Beyond offering extended health care benefits, which can include full or partial cost of your massage, some workplaces have implemented a variety of wellness programs, such as yoga on-site or lunch and learns on a variety of wellness topics.
5. Laugh Out Loud: You don’t even need a reason to laugh. Dr. Madan Kataria, a physician in India who has dedicated his life to helping people reap the benefits of laughter, has developed a practice called Laughter Yoga, where people combine yogic breathing with laughter for no reason at all.
6. Write a gratitude list: Looking at the positive in situations can help increase our well-being as is suggested in this article about how nurses can deal with workplace stress.
7. Pause: When we are used to doing things for others, whether at work or at home, often when someone makes another request of us, our response is “Sure, no problem.” Then we get off the phone and think how can I possibly fit one more thing in. So the next time you are asked to do something, for example, bake 100 of your delicious super fudge cupcakes for the school fundraiser, say, “Can I get back to you on that?” Then consider your schedule to see if you can realistically afford the time and if not, call the person back and say, “This week isn’t good for me, but what I can do is pick up a few boxes of cupcakes at the local bakery.”
8. Drink a cup of tea: Caffeine can rev us up, so while we all enjoy our coffee breaks, a cup of herbal tea in the afternoon can be a delightful way of taking time out without disturbing your sleep with more caffeine. Try our ElmLine Serenity Herbal Tisane for its relaxing aromatic blend of flavours and other soothing effects.
9. Hug someone: Hugging a friend or someone you know well releases the hormone oxytocin into the blood stream which can lower your blood pressure, reduce your stress and anxiety and can even improve your memory according to a study conducted by neurophysiologist Jürgen Sandkühler from the Medical University of Vienna, as reported by the Daily Mail. The study’s author warned that the effect only works if the people trust each other, so beware of hugging strangers on the street.
10. “Gift” your mom or yourself a day off: Better yet, plan to spend the day together. In fact, once you’ve done a quick check of your extended health care benefits, you may find that your massage time at the spa is subsidized by your employer. Come early to enjoy our water therapies™ and enhance your spa experience. Meditate while waiting for your service and dine on healthy foods while lounging in your robes in our Terrace Restaurant. Both you and your mom will leave refreshed and relaxed.
One more suggestion: If there’s a nurse in your life who has been especially good to you or a family member, rather than give another expensive box of chocolates, why not present a gift card for some time at the spa.