During a stressful period I typically drop my self care routines for a while.
I stop eating regular meals, exercising, meditating, sleeping enough and doing my Feldenkrais lessons. I eat crap food (as long as it’s easily digestible and I don’t need to cook it myself, it’s ok), consume Pepsi Max, tea and candy.
When things get back to normal I’m usually completely pooped out. Not to mention the fact that I’m mad at myself for skipping exercise.
I’m not only dead tired but my upper traps are like a piece of concrete and I may sport a migraine. Not to mention unwashed dishes piling up in my kitchenette or the fact that I usually skip my normal grooming routines. It’s not unheard of for me to get out with the last day’s make up still on – you can always fix that with some powder and cotton tips, yes? 🙂
Yet I believe it shouldn’t be too hard to maintain some of your habits. What prevents me from taking a couple of quick walks outside even if I’m busy? I think it’s partly because under stress it’s really hard to be mindful of your body’s messages.
My last stressful period took place a few weeks ago. After that I’ve thought a lot about why it’s so difficult to take care of yourself under stress. Are stress and self care really mutually incompatible? I’d like to think that they aren’t.
My theory is that stress distorts your thinking. When you’re stressed out, you (erroneously) think you’re in real danger, so you focus on doing anything to avoid the feared consequence.
So you’ll believe it when your mind tells you don’t have any time for self care. You can’t really take a 5-minute break from work, can you? Perhaps you also believe you need to spend 100% of your waking hours working – or at least mulling over the problem even if nothing comes out of it (that seems to happen to me a lot..)
But I have started to think that there has to be a better way to deal with stressful life situations.
It should be possible to stick to at least some kind of stripped-down self care routine even when you’re highly stressed. Then I wouldn’t need days to recover from stressful periods, and I wouldn’t feel like a truck had just driven over me.
Surely that is possible in practice?
Do you have any tips for maintaining good habits under stress?