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Self-Care Strategies



This week content creator Caysie has chosen some self-care strategies to help you destress.


From academic pressures to social expectations, GCSEs to home struggles, it is crucial to prioritise self-care in order to take care of your mental and physical health. This article will explore effective self-care strategies to help you get through difficult times.


1. Prioritise Rest and Sleep


Sometimes it can seem as if life is all go, go go. It’s easy to get bogged down with revision, work, studies, all while attempting to maintain a social life - but one of your biggest priorities should be getting rest.


According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), teenagers should aim for 8-10 hours of sleep each night, while young adults should aim for 7-9 hours.


Sleep deprivation can have a negative impact on mood, concentration, and cognitive functions. Establishing a consistent sleep routine and creating a relaxing bedtime ritual can promote better sleep quality and help manage stress.


The NSF offers six tips for restful sleep:

1. Spend time in real sunlight during the day - or at least opening the curtains.

2. Aim for 30m of exercise a day, five times a week.

3. Eat three meals a day, at consistent intervals.

4. Avoid heavy meals, caffeine, alcohol or cigarettes after 20:00.

5. Have a consistent wind-down routine to help your body register that it’s bedtime - hello, time to pretend we’re doing a nighttime routine vlog!

6. And put away devices & distractions before bed, although I’m sure we’ve all heard this one before.


2. Engage in Regular Physical Activity


Physical exercise is a powerful tool for stress management.


Engaging in regular physical activity releases endorphins, the brain's "feel-good" chemicals, and reduces stress hormones such as cortisol.


Whether it's going for a walk, practising yoga, or participating in team sports, finding an activity that brings joy and relaxation can significantly improve mental well-being.


There are lots of different ways to get active - check out The Fitness Marshall on YouTube, a great creator who inspires movement through dance.


3. Practice Mindfulness and Meditation


Mindfulness and meditation techniques have been proven effective in reducing stress and promoting a sense of calm. Taking a few moments each day to focus on the present moment can help reduce anxiety and enhance self-awareness.


Resources such as Headspace and Calm offer guided meditations specifically designed for teenagers and young adults, making it easier to incorporate mindfulness into daily routines.


Calm has even had your favourite celebs read bedtime stories to help you relax - including Bridgerton’s Duke, and Dame Mary Berry herself!


4. Nurture Healthy Relationships


Strong social connections are essential for emotional well-being.


Seek support from friends, family, or trusted mentors during stressful times. Engaging in open and honest conversations can provide a fresh perspective, practical advice, and a sense of belonging.


Cutting ties with friends who don't make you feel loved and supported, or seem to take more than they give, can also do wonders for your mental health.


Considering the relationships you have with others and the effect they have on you and your sense of self-worth is vital to help you destress & start to heal.


You could also consider joining clubs or community organisations to meet like-minded individuals and expand your circle.


5. Set Realistic Goals and Manage Time


Setting realistic goals and managing time effectively can reduce stress levels.

Break large tasks into smaller, manageable ones, and prioritise them accordingly.

By creating a schedule or using time management tools, such as apps or planners, individuals can better allocate their time, prevent procrastination, and reduce last-minute stress.


I like to use the urgent-important matrix to help me define how urgent, and important a task is, which helps me to prioritise tasks accordingly.


Starting with the most stressful task on your list, and starting early in the day, can help ease pressure and allow you to wind-down as you complete your goals.


6. Engage in Relaxation Techniques


Incorporating relaxation techniques into daily routines can help alleviate stress. Deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, or listening to calming music are simple yet effective methods to relax both the mind and body.


Experiment with different techniques to find what works best for individual preferences and incorporate them into daily self-care rituals.


At school, my drama teacher taught us about the circles of influence, which helped us to identify factors that may be causing stress and upset in our lives, and categorise these things in the circles of concern, circles of influence, and circles of control.


Recognising where we do and don’t have power over stressful situations can help to accept or influence situations, and allow us to think deeper about the stress we are feeling, and what can be done about it.


7. Disconnect from Technology


While technology has its benefits, excessive screen time can contribute to stress and overwhelm. Take regular breaks from social media and other digital distractions.


Use this time to engage in hobbies, read a book, spend time in nature, or simply reflect. Setting boundaries with technology allows for greater self-care and reduces the pressure to constantly be connected.


It can be difficult to unplug, but starting in small doses can make the transition easier. Check out this video on ‘digital detoxing’ on YouTube.


Conclusion


In times of stress, it is crucial to prioritise self-care. By implementing these strategies, you can proactively manage stress levels and enhance your overall well-being.


Remember, self-care is not selfish but rather a necessary step towards maintaining good mental health.


If your stress levels are at a point where you feel they are unmanageable, or you are seriously mentally or physically struggling, please reach out to a professional. Never be afraid to ask for help. You are never alone.


Take charge of your well-being and embrace self-care as a lifelong practice.


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