Self-care exercises that help you through difficult times
Especially in phases when you are not feeling so well - for whatever reason - it is important that you take time for yourself. You can read here why you should take care of yourself, especially in times like this . Today I would like to show you various exercises that will reduce fear and uncertainty and hopefully help you relax a bit.
A few things first
- It is important that you accept yourself and your feelings. No matter what you feel: it's ok. I know from myself that I quickly make myself feel bad when I'm not feeling well. But it is precisely in such moments that you have to allow yourself to let what is there be there and be a little more forgiving with yourself.
- For these exercises you only need yourself and your mind . For some exercises you will need pen and paper . It is a good idea to keep a journal in which you can write down your experiences (here you can find related articles: What is journaling? & How does journaling work? ). Writing something down has a completely different effect than if you “just” think about things. That's why it's always a good idea to write down experiences, impressions and thoughts. So that alone can be a very therapeutic experience!
- The exercises are there to be good for you. However, please know that self-care practices like these will not make all of your problems and worries disappear overnight. It also always makes sense to confide in loved ones and/or to get professional help if you have serious difficulties . There is absolutely no shame in that!
5 self-care exercises for difficult times
1. The Emotion Scale
Sometimes we notice that we feel unwell, but we can't say exactly why it is or what exactly we are feeling. Taking a closer look at our own emotions can help create clarity and take the burden off our shoulders. If you deal with your own emotions regularly, you will quickly notice that you can classify your emotions more precisely and deal with them better. What is important for this exercise is that you allow your feelings. We don't want to push it away from us! We want to approach this like a curious scientist. So, let's go!
- First, draw a simple scale on a piece of paper and number it from 0 to 10. Now classify the intensity of your feeling with a mark of your choice on the scale (0 = not at all intense, 10 = very intense). It doesn't really matter what feeling it is.
- Now sit upright, close your eyes and listen to yourself. Where in your body do you feel the sensation? In the neck, in the chest area, in the stomach area? What does the sensation feel like: is it hard or soft? How big is it? What shape does it have? Is it easy or difficult? You can also give your feeling a color. Describe your feeling as precisely and intuitively as possible , without thinking too much about it. There are no right or wrong answers! Once you have an idea of how you feel, write down all of your answers.
- See if you can give your feeling a name . Are you upset, angry or disappointed? Are you afraid, jealous or aggressive? Or rather annoyed? This list of feelings can help you name your feeling. Of course, if you can't quite grasp what you're feeling, that's not a bad thing!
- How intense is your feeling now? Has the feeling become more intense or weaker? Or has the intensity remained the same? Place another marker in the appropriate place with a different pen color, symbol, or similar.
- We now want to inspect the feeling further. Since when has the feeling been there? Was there a specific trigger or was it “suddenly there”? Write down your thoughts on this. It is important that you do not make any assessments, but rather observations.
- Now ask yourself: What do I need right now? A warm tea, a hug, a little distance from others, a break or something completely different? Make a note of this too.
- You can now set a mark on the intensity scale again.
In the best case scenario, the feeling has become less intense over the course of this exercise. If this doesn't happen, you can repeat the exercise or continue to monitor your feelings for the rest of the day. It's less about getting rid of the feeling and more about observing and documenting. Assigning a “shape” to the feeling can give you clarity and help you distance yourself from the feeling. And remember: no feeling stays forever!
2. The power of posture
When we are afraid or worried, our brain automatically sends information to our body. One of the ways your body reacts is by changing its posture. The posture in turn reinforces the emotion. To break this cycle, you can change your posture. You will notice that this will also change your state of mind. Yes, I know the last thing you want to do right now is stand up and fumble around. But please give it a try and give it a try!
- It's best to stand up or at least sit upright . Roll your shoulders back and push your chest forward a little. Lift your chin.
- Smile , even if just a little. Come on, first one corner of your mouth, then the other... Very good. :) By the way, the smile doesn't have to be “real” for our body to send out happiness hormones!
- You can also clench your hands into fists and extend your arms to the side or above your head. Or you can put your hands on your hips. It's about putting your body in a position that expresses strength .
- If such a “power pose” isn’t for you, you can also do a lot with your breathing . Take a few deep, calm breaths (sitting quietly upright). Make sure that you breathe into your stomach and that it bulges outwards as you breathe in and that it pulls inwards as you breathe out. 4-7-8 breathing (counting to 4 while inhaling, holding your breath for 7 seconds and exhaling for 8 seconds) also leads to more relaxation in no time.
- Last but not least: really crank up your favorite song and take a little dance break ! Of course it doesn't matter what it looks like. Just have fun with it!
3. The safe place
The “safe place” practice is also used in therapeutic contexts or is incorporated into imagination and meditation techniques. Your very own safe place is always with you and helps you to calm down and relax in stressful situations. And this is how you create your safe place:
- It's best to sit down comfortably and close your eyes. Now think of a place where you feel safe and peaceful. Take time to create this place in your mind and let it become real in your mind's eye. It doesn't matter whether you are outside or inside, in a real or imaginary place.
- You can let your safe place emerge little by little. Use all your senses : What do you see? What sounds can you hear in your safe place? What does it smell like, what taste is on your tongue? Can you feel anything on your feet and hands? For example grass, earth, the wind or something you hold in your hand? The more detailed you imagine the place, the better!
- Here too, it is best if you write down your impressions. Try to record as many details and sensory impressions as possible in writing. If you like painting, you can of course also make a sketch of your safe place.
You can visualize your safe place during meditation, for example. To do this, whenever you feel like it, close your eyes, breathe calmly, and experience your safe place in your mind, one sense at a time. You can walk around the place, observe the hustle and bustle of the place from a fixed place or get a bird's eye view.
4. Write yourself a letter
For this exercise you will definitely need a piece of paper or a notebook. You will write a letter to yourself that gives you hope and motivates you. The whole thing works best if you read the letter to yourself every day (e.g. after getting up or just before going to bed). This will boost a lot of manifestation energy! Your letter should include these elements:
- First, you should write down how you feel . And be brutally honest about it . If you're feeling really bad, write it down. Describe your situation and state how you feel. You can also write about what you are afraid of or what your biggest challenge is about your current situation. There is no point in denying your own emotions or even trying to push them away. That's why this part of your letter is so important.
- Now write down what you will do to overcome the situation. Whether you meditate daily, communicate regularly with a specific person, start a new hobby, take breaks at set times, use your cell phone less, say “no” to certain things, establish a new habit or initiate a major change – choose what feels good for you and what is feasible. Think big here! Be brave!
- In the last section of your letter, write down what thoughts and ideas make you feel safe . For example, a safe thought might be “I have friends and family I can count on.” or “I can always get a new job” or “I’ve gotten through everything in my life so far, so I’ll get through this too.” By the way, it doesn’t matter whether you write the letter in “I” or “you” form. Choose what feels best for you. It's important to end your letter with hope and with words that make you feel safe.
In order for this exercise to help you, it is of course important that you believe that you will get through this difficult time. You have to trust the universe / fate / God / whatever you believe in, that it will accompany you on your path and that things will get better at some point.
An exercise that, in my opinion, should never be missing: gratitude. This exercise is very simple, but can achieve a lot. Because it helps you shift your focus from thinking about scarcity to thinking about abundance - by recognizing everything you already have. The gratitude exercise has a greater impact if you do it regularly. It's best to write down three things every morning/evening that you are particularly grateful for. It doesn't matter whether it's something fundamental (like access to clean drinking water), something material (like your cell phone), something intangible (like a sense of accomplishment in your day), or a "little thing" (like the cereal you eat for breakfast you ate, acts.
By the way, you can find simple exercises and tips for general stress reduction here .
If you would like to find out more about the topics of mindfulness, healthy eating or sustainability, take a look here .