You want to reduce stress, but you just don’t know how. There is laundry to fold. Working from home, and your kids are at home! You don’t know what to do with them.

Make self-care a priority.

You are feeling more and more overwhelmed. You may feel like you can’t take it anymore. If you feel this way, you aren’t alone. This has been a stressful year.

Starting with the Coronavirus, violence and then the election. When will it end? The good news is that you don’t have to solve all the world problems. So, stop stressing yourself out trying to.

We are in the final stretch. The Holidays are almost here. Go easy on yourself. If you don’t feel like cooking a big family dinner, then order one.

Or, just have a small family dinner on Thanksgiving. Don’t worry about outdoing your friends and family. This will create unnecessary stress and anxiety.

Here are 7 self-care activities:

1.Surround yourself with positive people.

Your environment affects how you feel. If possible, stay away from negative people. This means at home and at work. Negative people can bring you down.

But positive people can help you feel better and more positive about the future.

Make a list of your closest five people to you. What is it you like about them? Are they on the positive or negative side? Do you feel inspired by them?

If you answered “they’re negative,” what’s the reason you’re keeping them close?

2. Practice being optimistic.

Optimism creates happiness! Being optimistic is not the same as expecting a big miracle; it’s about being positive about the future — and learning from the past.

Don’t let your imagination get the best of you and predict the worst outcome. With a little planning, you can have a positive future.

When you think bad things will happen, they often will. Whatever is happening now will eventually pass. You’ll get through this and be able to move on.

3. Developing a mindfulness practice.

Mindfulness involves using deep breathing techniques and is good for your central nervous system.

Start with 10 minutes a day. Set up a time that will work for you and practice mindfulness at the same time each day, whether you feel stressed out or not.

4. Smile and have laughter in your life.

Laughing is the best medicine. You can watch a comedy or a funny video. Be spontaneous and playful in your life.

Children are always making time for play. It’s a priority in their life, so play should also be a priority in your life.

When was the last time you looked at your life through a child’s eyes? It’s easy to predict that something won’t be fun or that you won’t like someone. This is often based on negative experiences from the past.

5. Feed your spirit.

This doesn’t mean being religious — it means learning to reconnect with yourself. If you’re like many, you’re doing things for others — it’s how you experience validation.

When you start feeding your spirit, you’ll feel the emotional benefits and decrease emotional fatigue from taking care of everyone else.​

6. Develop a healthy exercise program.

This doesn’t mean you need to do extreme exercise or work out three hours a day. You can go for a 20-minute walk or to a yoga class.

Exercise should be fun, so make sure you participate in activities you enjoy. Exercise outdoors and get vitamin D from natural sunlight. Also, exercise releases endorphins.

7. Take responsibility for your own life.

Take time to listen to your inner voice and learn how you were wired. Children are wired to please their parents, but you don’t have to carry that into adulthood.

Ask yourself, “Who do you want to please?” Take note of your answers.

Are you prone to pleasing others? If the answer is “yes,” then ask yourself why? Is there a cost to your own mental or physical health? If you answered “yes,” then you’re letting others control you.

Remember, life is about choices. You can make the best choice for yourself.

Starting a self-care plan will help reduce stress. You are making an investment in yourself. You can’t take care of others unless you are taking care of yourself.

Start with one of these tips today and see how you feel. It doesn’t have to be difficult. Your mind and body will thank you.

If you liked this article, there are more in Taking Care of Yourself. It is filled with tips that will help you reduce stress and be more present in your life.

Lianne Avila is a Marriage & Family Therapist helping people in San Mateo, CA who are looking to create a life that is happier and more fulfilling. Please subscribe to Lianne’s newsletter on www.LessonsforLove.com to learn more about her services and expertise.

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