Can self-care add to your stress?

13 Jan 2022
No Comments

Everyday stress busting doesn’t have to be an effort

A lovely lady I know recently had a mini-meltdown out of the blue. To the outside world, all was well, her business was growing fast and gaining momentum and she was a smiling, walking, talking model of successful entrepreneurship and combining young family life to boot – certainly someone I admire (and I still do by the way!).

She thought she was doing all the right things, working hard but also setting time aside to look after her health with regular evening yoga, starting a new fitness regime with a PT and addressing some dietary issues, and making sure she had time in the week to spend with her young children.
So this knocked her for six.  
It’s hard having it all, damned hard. And when you’re nurturing a business as well, it adds to the excitement and the stress.
11 years ago almost to the day, I gave birth to my first child. She was 10 days late and I’d spent the previous 2 weeks stressing about the dates and timing because exactly 10 days after she did arrive I had a stand booked at the London Dive Show, one of two annual scuba diving shows. I had a small tour operator business specialising in diving and safari holidays to southern Africa, and it was my face-to-face time with potential customers, a time to see old ones and our ‘shop window’ to the diving community.
So 10 days after my daughter was born I left her in the care of family and was standing on a high stool sticking up banners and images on my stand. My business was my baby too, I’d started it from scratch and loved it with a passion so as hard as it was to leave a newborn at home, it would have been as hard to turn my back on my business.
So whilst on the surface everything is ‘business as usual’, underneath there are usually lots of things going on for all of us.
And we’re aware now more than ever about the need to look after ourselves, how important self-care is in this fast-paced world, but sometimes adding in self-care can actually cause more stress. It’s part of the myth of having it all – family, work, looking good, being healthy. Sometimes we have to allow ourselves to step back and take a breather, and if that means going offline for a day or so, or staying in bed all day, so be it. It should be a guilt-free moment because really, in the big scheme of life, a day is not a big deal.
Fitting lots of things into our lives is great, we thrive on the buzz and it forms part of our routine. Activities like yoga, running, working with a PT are all fabulous for our physical and mental health – but they also all take time, and if we find we’re time-poor they can add stress on rather than helping. We feel guilty if we miss that class, and worry that our routine is broken.
So I have a tip for everyday self-care – and for me it comes in the form of a teapot! Following the revelations of the Blue Planet and the horrendous plastic tide that is engulfing our oceans I decided to give up teabags when I learned they had plastic in them. It was my tiny bit to help the environment. But what I hadn’t counted on was the part it plays in my mental well being.
When we make a cup of tea we generally do it unconsciously, because it’s become a labour-saved activity with the invention of teabags – we can dunk them and bin them with ease and be off with our cup of tea in no time. Using my teapot and loose leaf tea takes longer, it’s more of a ritual. It is a thoughtful activity: measuring out the tea, pouring the water into the pot, stirring, steeping, using a strainer… maybe I get more pleasure from this activity because it mimics what I used to do as a child playing with tea sets and whenever I stay in hotels and order tea, it always comes in a pot (mostly now with a teabag but nevertheless it has to be poured from pot to cup). So it’s become a few moments of quiet and focus on something other than work or family or even on me.
And this is valuable brain processing time, allowing it to freewheel for a few moments helps to keep stress levels down.
Making tea might not be your everyday stress buster, it could be the walk from the car park to the office, the train journey to work, walking the dog, the important thing is it is something you do every day which means it’s a period you can use to allow a little bit of brain freewheeling.
Or using it for meditation or being mindful or focusing on your breathing or singing – there are a number of ways you can bring everyday stress busters into your daily life which won’t add to your stress because you don’t have to make room for them, they are already there just quietly being ignored at the moment. We tend to rush through life at breakneck speed, thinking about what we’ve done or what we’ve got to do next so the next time you make a cup of tea, take a moment just to be.
If you’d like more tips, get in touch

Share this post