There is such a valuable connection between stress and your relationship with yourself. In my personal experience, realising this connection has been instrumental in helping me reduce my stress.
And so, in this blog post, I will be sharing my own personal take on how working on your relationship with yourself can help you reduce stress, and create a much more joyful and peaceful way of being.
Stress and Your Relationship with Yourself
While there are various causes of stress, in a very simple sense, it all results in:
A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.
So whatever it is, this puts our body, mind and spirit into a stressed state of being.
I like to think about reducing stress in the simplest of ways – In order to counteract a stressed state, we need to get into a relaxed state. In other words, we need to take actions that allow our body, mind and spirit to relax, unwind, and feel more joy.
And in my personal experience, to get into a more joyful and relaxed state, you need to prioritise yourself and your wellbeing. Therefore it is directly linked to your relationship with yourself.
Creating a more nourishing and supportive environment for yourself
As I’ve dealt with my fair share of stress and anxiety, I completely understand that life can be very challenging and that oftentimes stressors pop up in our lives that are out of our control. However, I still firmly believe that we all still do have a choice over how we respond to them and the actions we take to get back to a better, more balanced and peaceful place.
Another thing about stress is that it can often become a ‘normal way of being’. You may be used to taking on a lot, being super busy, giving a lot of energy to other people, saying yes all the time… And this may even comfort you in a way because you feel like you’re keeping it all together. Take a moment though to consider if this is also linked to the need for control…
Whatever has led you to this article, if you want to reduce the stress in your life, it’s time to make some changes. It’s time to look at ways you can start to create a more nourishing and supportive environment for yourself.
We all have a big part to play in how we design our lives, and what we choose to surround ourselves with. And while you may have a demanding job, a family and many other responsibilities, you still have the opportunity to make changes that create more peace and balance in your life. It can be challenging and there may be some tough decisions, but you have a choice and the ability to reduce the stress in your life, and create a more nourishing way of being in the world.
Action: Your health and happiness is important. Take a moment to think about one small change you can make to your life to create a more nourishing and peaceful environment for yourself? Anything that comes to mind that feels good, take action!
Putting yourself and your needs first (with grace)
That’s the thing, Stress is so connected to your relationship with yourself.
Because, to counteract the stress-state, we need to activate the relax-state. And to do that, you need to love yourself enough to put yourself first. What do you need to feel better? What do you need to distress and unwind?
Loving yourself is often confused with being selfish. But it’s not true. When you love and take care of yourself, you can be your best self. And that’s the person you want to take out into the world. So it’s essential. You need to take care of yourself first so that you can take care of others.
Loving yourself is not selfish, it’s essential.
This doesn’t mean throwing your responsibilities out the window or treating others less than. This is just about loving yourself enough to pay attention to what you need to feel good. And taking the time to tend to your needs so that you can nourish and support yourself.
Taking on LESS in your life
A great place to start is to take on LESS in your life.
So many of us, myself included, have a tendency to fill our days and todo lists. We run around doing as much as possible, and even when we’re not doing, we’re thinking about it.
If you’re often stressed out and under pressure, it may be time to stop and take an honest look at everything you’ve got on your plate. Stress is basically tension and pressure in your life. And in order to lower it, you need to create space – the space to rest, to relax, to enjoy life. Space to just breathe and let go of some of that tension.
I see this often, where people are stressed but they still keep themselves super busy. And if this sounds like you, I want you to be honest with yourself – Do you feel like you need to do more, achieve more, be more? Do you feel like, if you did less, you wouldn’t be enough? Do you, in a way, base how busy you are on your self worth?
This is super important to consider. Oftentimes we add as much as possible to our plate to make us feel like we’re successful and worthy. This is how I used to be, and it’s something I’m still working on.
It’s so important to take this in – The amount of stuff you do does not determine your self-worth. YOU determine it, regardless of how much you do or achieve.
If you really want to reduce your stress and live a more peaceful life, you need to bravely look at your calendar and take some things off the list. It doesn’t mean that you’ll never do certain things, but you can put them aside on a list for another month or another year. Take the time to focus on what’s most important to you, and practice focusing on QUALITY over QUANTITY.
Give yourself the gift of more space in your life to relax, recharge and just be. And remember that, doing a bit less doesn’t make you less of a person. You are enough exactly as you are right now, and you deserve to have more space in your life to relax and enjoy the moment.
Action: What is ONE thing you can take off your todo list this week?
Allowing more time to relax and recharge
This is linked to the above point but I must re-iterate this – taking time to relax is not a waste of time.
I’ve also seen this so often, especially in people who put a lot of pressure on themselves. They find it difficult to relax. They almost feel like resting and relaxing is ‘wasting time’. I was one of those people and it has taken me a while to change my mindset around this.
A few years ago I was listening to the audiobook “Peak Performance” and in it AUTHOR quotes:
What is the difference between the rest and the best? THE REST.
Let this sink in… The BEST – successful people and peak-performers – understand the value of REST. They understand that to just go-go-go is not sustainable, and eventually leads to stress and burnout. So they take the time to rest and recharge. Especially professional athletes – they know that their muscles need to rest and restore to keep performing.
If there is one thing to take away from this article, it would be to start truly valuing taking time to rest. It is not a waste of time. It is essential in allowing your body, mind and spirit the time to rest and recharge, to absorb everything and process information, to perform other processes in the body.
That’s the thing, stress is essentially tension and pressure – in the mind, body, or spirit. And when this starts to build up, it causes various symptoms. Be they emotional outbursts, a decreased immune system or headaches.
And once again, keeping it very simple, to counteract this stress, you need to take the time to rest and relax.
This doesn’t refer to just sleeping enough. While good quality sleep is super important, this is also about taking the time to do relaxing things. Sitting down to enjoy a meal instead of eating on-the-go. Spending time gardening on the weekends. Enjoying some classical music while you take your time in the kitchen cooking one of your favourite slow-cook meals. Having a weekly essential oil candlelit bath. Sleeping in and reading a book in bed with a pot of tea. Spending time with your family and friends.
In terms of your relationship with yourself, love yourself enough to gift yourself the time to relax and unwind. Even if that means taking something else off your todo list. It’s not a waste of time to prioritize relaxation. It is nourishing, enjoyable, and makes you feel good. And there is nothing wrong with feeling good, you deserve it!
Action: What is one relaxing activity that you can include in your week? Schedule it and take the time!
Setting healthy boundaries and saying “no” when something doesn’t felt right
The world is full of people-pleasers. I am one of them. And it has taken me a long time to transition to a better place, where I don’t tend to others in a way that jeopardizes my own health and happiness.
And it’s not easy… You may always put other people’s needs first, just because you care and want the best for them. Or perhaps it goes further and it’s a little more linked to a need to control and doing it all so that it is ‘done right’.
Whatever it is, a really valuable practice is learning to set healthier boundaries in your life. Be that with your family, friends, work or partner. And a big part of that is learning how to say “no” when something doesn’t feel right.
This was tough for me… I would always say yes, even when it really didn’t work for me. I’d work late at the office, even when I was so sick that I was crying at my desk. Yet I’d continue working into the night, barely able to drive home I was feeling so ill. I’d say ‘yes sure’ to going out at night, even though I was absolutely exhausted and really didn’t feel like it. I’d give in to peer pressure and drink alcohol even though it made me feel terrible.
If you find yourself tired, overworked or stressed out, it may be time to look at how you can set some healthier boundaries in your life. It’s not always easy to speak your truth and ‘say no’ if something doesn’t work for you, but you’re going to need to try to in order to create a healthier balance in your life.
Some examples of setting healthier boundaries: Not taking on extra work if you don’t have time. Asking your partner for help when you need it. Asking family to give you some time to be by yourself to relax. Saying ‘no’ to going somewhere when you really feel like relaxing at home after a long week.
If you’re used to giving, it can be tough in the beginning. And you can of course take baby steps. But the thing is, the more you give, the more people naturally expect it. And this can create an imbalance where you find yourself giving away all your energy, even when you’re already depleted.
But gracefully speaking your truth and letting people know when something doesn’t work for you, you can start to re-calibrate a healthier balance in your life.
Action: Think about one area in your life where you can start setting some healthier boundaries. What small step can you take to start creating a healthier balance?
Having more fun and play!
We’re far too serious these days, don’t you think?
Life has gotten so serious and we have all these goals and important things to do with our lives. Sometimes I think we’ve totally forgotten what it means to be alive… To truly soak up the warm sunshine on our face. Or to get really stuck into a wonderful conversation with someone we care about, and to listen with all our hearts. To be fully present as we cook and eat a meal we love, using all our senses. Or to appreciate all we work for, instead of just focusing on What Next.
A big part of this is having more FUN.
This relates to this idea that relaxing is a waste of time. Well, the same applies to having fun.
Adding more play and fun into your life is a great way to de-stress.
So many of us grow up with this idea that fun and play is for children. And when you grow up into an adult, playtime is over…
In terms of your relationship with yourself, giving yourself the gift of more fun and play is an act of self-love. Doing more of the things that truly give you joy and pleasure is an act of self-love. It’s saying that you are worth it, and you deserve to have fun and be happy.
Personally, I have made it my mission to have more fun in my life. It hasn’t been easy as I’m a recovering workaholic, but I’m determined to create nourishing balance in my life, where I have just as much fun as I work.
Action: Think of ONE thing that truly gives you pure joy… make it a priority to do it!
Prioritizing self-care (as the ultimate act of self-love)
All of this can be summed up into one line: Prioritise your self-care.
When you love yourself, you prioritize your self-care. You value your wellbeing enough to listen to what you need to to give yourself what you need.
If you’re feeling stressed, it’s time to prioritize your self-care. Seriously though, if you want to reduce your stress, you need to take care of yourself. And in terms of your relationship with yourself, it’s the least you can do.
Self-care is personal, but some ideas could be: Getting some extra sleep. Doing some exercise or stretching to release tension in your body. Taking the time to eat a nutritious breakfast in the morning. Switching off your work on the weekends. Spending time in nature by going for a long walk on the weekend.
ACTION: What ONE self-care activity can you add to your week? Here are some simple self-care ideas to inspire you.
How does your relationship with yourself connect with the stress in your life?
I hope that this article has inspired you to see the connection between stress and your relationship with yourself.
For me personally, this was a game-changer! In general, when I started to prioritize my self-care, I was able to create a healthier balance in my life and my stress levels naturally decreased.
Let me know in the comments what part of this article resonated with you the most? And what ONE thing are you going to do to show yourself some love so that you can create a less stressful and more nourishing balance in your life?
Keep shining xoxo Sian