Some weeks are good. Some are tough. Some are OMFG.
It’s important after a tough week to process that week. Unwind. Reconnect with you. Because if you keep going from a tough week without rest, it can lead to an OMFG week, and then to burnout. And you’re no good to the world curled up in a ball in bed.
When I’ve had a tough week, I make time to reconnect with myself and reflect, so that I can recentre, and there’s less chance of the next week being an OMGF week because I’m refreshed.
Self-care and ‘me time’ doesn’t need to be expensive or time-consuming. In fact, science has plenty of evidence that there are heaps of free things you can do that can reduce your stress levels not just after a tough week, but have long term impacts.
Here are some of the techniques I use to reconnect with me, which are simple, free, and scientifically backed.
Walk in nature
Walking is amazing. It releases endorphins which make you less stressed. Being around trees, according to science, makes you calm. The combo is great.
When I’m walking, I listen to nature, or the hum of the city, and spend the time processing my week.
I like to pull out Google maps and try to find a park in my area, then walk to it.
Pause for 5 seconds and consider each question I’m about to ask: what are three sounds you can hear right now?
Is the object you’re sitting on (on standing on) hard or soft?
Can you feel the rise and fall of your lungs with each breath?
Great work – you’ve just been aware of the present moment. That’s mindfulness. There’s loads of research showing that mindfulness helps reduce stress. Ten minutes a day has amazing results. Free apps like Calm and Insight Timer are great intros to mindfulness meditation.
Yoga or Chi Gong
The slow calm movements of yoga and qi gong force you to be present in the here and now. It might not be a cardio workout, but yoga does improve your heart, and makes you more aware of your body which improves your body self-image.
And, let’s be honest, if you sit at a keyboard all day, I bet your spine is thanking you for the new perspective.
You don’t need to sign up to a class to do yoga or Chi gong. Just check out a free video on YouTube.
I always feel like a dork when I recommend journaling. It feels like ‘dear diary’ of my tweens. But you know what? When I sit down to answer the question “what is weighing on me this week?” I find myself talking about things I never realized I was worrying about. On paper, I get them out of my mind, and they stop bubbling about in there. It helps me process what I’m thinking about, and it becomes less stressful.
And you know what? Science says that journalling actually helps you solve problems in a new way because you’re engaging different parts of your brain. Nice.
Shower or Bath
Hot water. Time. Breathe. Showers and baths and amazing to have time to yourself to switch off. Spending time in hot water helps calm the nervous system. Enjoy the warmth of the shower, the scents of the soap and the alone time where you can process the world.
(And, if I can tempt you, you can even make the experience a little bit more luxurious with a DIY bath soak.)
It’s so important to take the regular time to process your week, rather than waiting for your stress levels to boil over. Catch yourself at the end of a tough week, don’t wait til an OMFG week.
Switch off your tech. Reflect on what’s been going well. Process what you are worrying about. Take note of what you’re grateful for. Spending some time actively thinking about these things means they aren’t bubbling under the surface the rest of the week and increasing your stress levels.
And for me, that means I can be more present in my work and personal life. It means I can be a better friend, sibling and a better cat owner (because someone’s ears aren’t going to get scritched on their own).
Pick one way to reconnect with you from the list. Do something right now to make it easier for you to do that task later on today: perhaps pop a reminder in your calendar, find a notebook and pen for journaling or lay out a water bottle to go for a walk.