How to Manage Stress with Selfishness in 6 easy Steps


Through all of my researching and experimenting with so-called healthy lifestyles I have come to the conclusion that if any diet is to be had, it should be to reduce stress, not my waistline.  If I leave it unchecked, it’ll continue to undo much of anything good that healthy eating and living has promised me.

Maybe you can relate. The root of my stress seems to be from my inability to make time for things that are essential to me – essential to the spiritual, life emanating me. This means my personal creative practices. Specific projects, yes, like the two novels I’m trying to write, but also a need to be regularly sketching and making visual art just to unleash my imagination, to let myself lose touch with reality for awhile.
I tell people I’m awful at saying no to things. But really, I say no all of the time. Constantly, in fact. To myself. I tell myself it’s for good reason, my priorities are as they should be. I’m a mother, after all. I’m invested in my children and in my community, and who cares if I don’t get to those revisions just yet, or I let a week or two pass by without so much as picking up a pencil. 
Apparently my body cares. It’s starting to react. The under-rumblings of stress, which, by the way, I never know is there until it erupts in some kind of painful physical manifestation and forces me to take note.  It’s not really the way I want to live my life – from stress to stress. The last thing I want is to be selfish, but isn’t there room for that in this world? A little selfishness?  Come on wasn’t that what the 80s gave us? A little self indulgence? And questionable hairstyles? And look at us now. More stressed than ever. Hmmm. 80s style self indulgence, maybe not so productive.

But we’re in the here and now. We’ve learned from the past (and left the mullets and sonar dish bangs to die as they should have).

What are some helpful things we can do to be more selfish, you know, in a good way?

Selfishness for Less Stress: my top recommendations

Step One
Breathe. Duh. 
Deeply, and for an extended amount of time.
Don’t pass out.
Focus on your breath. In. Out.
Try this before getting out of bed, while waiting at a traffic light, or before falling asleep at night. 
Step Two
You don’t have to go ape-shit crazy. In fact it’s probably better that you don’t. Over exercising will cause a stress response from your body, too. And besides, busy homeschooling mom here. Most of my exercise comes from walking the dog and the kids to the park, or biking, or ice skating, or short jogs before hubby heads off to work. 
So, go for a walk or a jog, or whatever helps you feel alive, and not like you are dying (ie,”oh lord, why did I sign up for this 10k?”) 
Step Three
Or, Combine steps 1 and 2 and just do Yoga. 
How efficient are you!?
Just start at home before bed at night. Do a few sun salutations, some downward dogs, and whatever else you can remember off the top of your head. No need to sign up to a class (if that feels like a barrier), just find a time and do it. You don’t even have to be good at it or do it for that long. It’ll still help.
Step Four
Be consistent. And consistently forgive yourself for not being consistent. Look at yourself in the mirror and say “hey girl (or boy), you’re doing alright.” Winky face and pistol hands. Jazz hands, if you want to switch it up a bit. 

Step Five
Find a healthy comfort food/drink.
For me, it’s smoothies. Hands down. I typically go for something with cocoa powder in it. This girl likes chocolate. And mint. Usually together.


Step Six
If things get really tense, just go ahead and scream into a pillow. I’m not going to lie, I’ve done it once or twice. It’s pretty great. Alternatively, if you drive alone, roll up your windows and then scream at the top of your lungs. Pay attention to the road, though. It’s surprisingly freeing. I’m sure I’m sounding like a crazed lunatic, but I’m not. Just a mother. Try it. 

I would want to add that you should try and find time to do something just for you – take pottery class, go rock climbing, read a damn book in the tub. But, really, my goal is to help you though the load you already have, whilst trying to find a balance to make room for that extra something for you whenever you are ready. Sometimes, you have to roll with the crazies before you can shift gears. Call these six steps, then, some precursors to proper selfishness. I have hope that I will get to that awesome mountaintop of selfish pleasures – like having a shower without having to decipher what child #3 is yelling at me from the other side of the door. And I wish the most excellent selfishnesses (it’s a thing) for you too.

For other stress or anxiety management tips check out this post on Elephant Journal, that, I kid you not, just now made it’s way down my Facebook feed.  Annnnd, I just found out April is Stress Awareness Month. How on the ball am I?

Until next time ….

More about Julie Prescesky

Julie spends much of her time paying attention to what's happening around her. At Design Inkarnation, she's head designer, illustrator, writer and creative problem solver.

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