When a Bubble Bath Won’t Wash Away the Funk You’re Feeling: Managing Stress

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Self-care has become synonymous with taking a bath, a glass of wine, or a pedicure. And, while each may help in the moment, they don’t provide the relief we seek. 

I see you. I see your overwhelm, your need to disconnect while longing to be present, your desire to focus on your health, your dreams, your own to-do list when the world keeps draining all of the energy you have. I get it. I’m tired, too.

People mean well when they say to take care of yourself. But, what does that even mean?  People tell you to take a walk, to take a bath, to take time for yourself. But it never works. It’s not enough. There is no bath bomb fancy enough to wash away the funk you’re feeling.

Here’s the thing. It’s not just one day that brought you to this place, and one bath won’t bring you out of it. Stinks, but it’s the truth. While there is no one size fits all plan for healing, there are some tried and true things you can do. And, it is not about doing more, but about undoing. Self-care, in general, has to become your one thing.  And, over time, it feels better. You’ll feel better.

Get Some Air

Sit outside with a cup of tea, a good book, or your favorite Pandora station. Take a walk, watch your kids play, or listen to the birds. Find what feels good for you. Breathing in the fresh air, being below the sun, and feeling the openness of being outside can slow you down. It is exactly what you need, to slow down.

And, it’s important to lean into it. Breathe, listen, notice. It’s not about checking something off of your self-care list, it’s about slowing down for enough time to pay attention to what you are feeling. And, if you’re feeling ready (it’s okay if you’re not) investigating the source of your feelings.

Get off the CouchI get it. I check out with social media, Pinterest, and Netflix. And, if I keep doing what I’m doing, I’ll keep getting the results I’ve been getting. Checking out isn’t working. I need to learn to check-in. 

So, if something’s going to change, then you have got to change. Moving your body doesn’t have to be about fitness. It can be if that is something that feels good for you, but it’s about helping your body and brain relax and destress.

I hate everything about working out. My mental game is strong and working out for the sake of exercise adds stress in my life. But, movement is different. My current routine is Yoga With Adriene combined with learning TikTok dances. (Don’t judge) The yoga is calm, gentle, quick, and is a balance of being still, and movement. TikTok makes me laugh, reminds me of when I thought I could dance, and is awesome cardio.

Find what works for you. Play with your kids, go for a run, walk in nature, dance in your pajamas and sing into a hairbrush. Do you. But move your body.

Find a Mentor
My go-to is Brene Brown. She has no idea, but she’s pretty much my best friend. Her books remind you that it is our humanity that connects us. My latest read is Braving the Wilderness. Her podcast, Unlocking Us, speaks to the heart of what we are feeling, but can’t always put into words.

Jenn Sincero reminds me, You Are a Badass. Her book was a light read, taking me just a few days to take in, but left me reflecting, and laughing out loud.

Bob Geoff’s books are uplifting stories of connection, acceptance, and love. Everybody Always is a series of stories that remind me that every person longs for and deserves love. (This includes you!) It is a reality check, challenge, and charge to shift your thinking about who is deserving of love.

Maryann Williamson wrote A Return to Love: Reflections on “A Course in Miracles” and it came to me at the peak of my journey with Anxiety. Her words resonate deep in the areas of practicing love as the source of connection, healing, and peace in our own lives, and in the world.

Mentors are simply people who have gone before you on a journey and are willing to share their experiences. Find ones that connect with you, where you are in this time of your life. Or, use mine. I’ll share!

Find Your Favorites
I have several favorites. I have a favorite mug, plate, and only use little spoons and forks when I eat. I have favorite smells for candles, lotions, and fabric softener. I have favorite stations, favorite people, and favorite times of the day. I chose these with intention daily.

But, I didn’t always notice I even had a preference. I didn’t really know it mattered, or that I even got a choice. When you shift from auto-pilot to intention, you start to check in for a split second and ask yourself what you need. I no longer just grab a mug, I consider what size and design I want. I no longer turn on the music, I tell Google to play “Easter Brunch Radio”.

Finding your favorites adds subtle moments of joy throughout your day, and reminds you to check-in. Ask yourself what it is you want, in that moment. You get to have needs. You get to ask for them. And, you get to do it over, and over, and over again.

Do What You Love
You know that thing you do that makes time fly? The one you start and stop and had no idea how long you were working? Do that.

Make time for you to paint, mentor, write, coach, scrapbook, or travel. When you feel like you don’t have enough time to breathe, the very thing you need is that which gives you life.

Putting others first seems noble until you have nothing left to give. There is a reason you are instructed to put your own mask on before assisting someone else on an airplane. It’s not selfish, if you can’t breathe, you can’t help someone else.

Right now, you can’t breathe. So, it’s time to check in with yourself. It’s time to focus on the activities that fill your cup, that fill your lungs, that give you life. It’s essential. It’s non-negotiable. It’s what you need to survive the stress.

Practice Gratitude
Our brains are trained to look for patterns. When we see a pattern of overwhelm, of busy, or of comparison our brain is going to continue to find more of that. And, none of that feels good.

Focusing on gratitude shifts the pattern in your brain, and the way you feel. Start small, and by small I mean the most obvious things. Waking up, your home, your family, food, these are things we forget to see. Begin to add the subtle things when you’re ready and begin to notice. The softness of your favorite tee shirt, the way the perfect pen rolls over the page, and the smell of cinnamon toast are all blessings.

You can journal, meditate, or pray, but intentionally focusing on gratitude creates a shift in your thinking and the way you feel.

Claim Your Worth
Here’s the thing. You don’t have time for any of this. You’ve tried it. You’ll just pour another glass of wine and soak in the bath. Surely it will help this time. And, it won’t. If you want to feel different than you’ve been feeling, you have to change the things you’ve been doing.

You are worth your own time and attention. We are all equally important, and putting your needs aside for someone else, everyone else, is not only hurting you but keeps you from being present for the ones you love.

So, check-in. Consistently. Love and nurture yourself in ways that feel completely foreign and uncomfortable, and recognize they are the lifeline you have been reaching for as you’re pulled in all directions.

There is not an easy fix. But it is simple. Love yourself enough to decide what feels right for you. Consistently put these actions into practice as regularly as you abandon your own needs. Check-in rather than checking out. Be kind to yourself as you make the shift. It will feel uncomfortable, and foreign, and I challenge you to sit with it. Peace comes from within, and when it washes over you, you’ll understand why a bath just didn’t cut it. 

You know what you need. You are important, valuable and loved. Is now the time to make the shift?

We’re in this together.


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