My name is Andrea and I get stress headaches.
Today I had a mother of a headache. So much that I almost lost my cookies while running a group. I had to tap out and leave work. This was by far the worst one I have had in a while; I was brought to tears. While I am grateful for my chiropractor and massage therapist that work to keep my body in structural alignment, I know as a holistic occupational therapist the importance of inner work in keeping the stress at bay (and thus the headaches to a minimum).
But honestly, I knew this headache was coming. I had let my self-care habits slack. You know how it is, vacation happens, the work-life balance gets out of whack. Excuses slide in and before you know it, bam! A mother of all headaches that knocks you on your ass and reminds you how important self-care is.
I wrote an earlier post about self-care, [read it here]. And while massages and such are great, self-care starts at the foundation. Here are my go-to’s (and works in progress) self-care activities:
While some like to call it exercise, any type of movement works for me. I find when I don’t move my body on a regular basis, energy becomes stagnant within my body and I feel sluggish and my stress increases. My favorite type of movement is plain ‘ole walking.
I know mindfulness seems like the go-to buzz word right now, but it is so powerful. Life can be crazy, and when I find myself being pulled in every direction and my mind wanders like a ping ball machine, mindfulness brings me back. Not sure how to start with mindfulness? I have a free 21 days of mindfulness offering, just sign up here.
Yup, breathing. Breathing goes hand in hand with mindfulness, but it takes it up a notch. Without getting all technical here, belly breathing (aka diaphragmatic breathing) is clinically proven to reduce stress. Most of us are shallow breathers (you guessed it, from stress). But when we focus on our breath, breathing in through the nose and expanding our belly- filling it with air, it calms our nervous system.
Not going to lie, this one can be the most challenging for me. As an OT and a mom, it is natural to want to say yes and be there for everyone. But what I have found is when I am not clear on my boundaries and making sure my needs are met… you guessed it, the stress goes WAY up. Boundaries can be tricky if you are new to them. It takes practice. And understand that NO is a complete sentence 😉
Want to learn more about creating healthy habits to support self-care and overall health? Join the email list to be the first to know about my upcoming program in April where we will deconstruct our habits and work to rebuild new habits that support health and well-being.