Love More: Stress Less

I’ve always struggled with this- the self love thing. It’s comforting to know that as a society, we aren’t alone in this. Its also discerning that we’ve come so far but still continue to struggle. There are countless resources and ways to cope or deal and the struggle doesn’t have to last forever. We were born into this world perfectly made by our creator, so loved with each and every flaw. But, it’s taken me 29 years to figure out what loving myself looks like and boy, was I doing it all wrong.

During the last year, after ending a long term relationship, I pulled myself up “by the boot straps” and got to work. I worked on myself- I read the books, did the therapy (and still do because I think it’s the best gift you can give yourself) and finally began to see the work pay off. I’ve done things I never would have had I not gotten myself up and taken that first step. I did all the things- until I found out which ones worked best for me.

The phrase “no one is coming to save you”

I still get chills and teary eyed when I hear that. No one is going to do the work for you or come and save you from your current state. YOU are the only one who is going to save the day. Wake up, get up, and get moving. It’s a form of self love, to love yourself enough to actually save yourself.

Surround yourself with mentors

Whether you can physically do this or do it through the internet, find someone who motivates you to be better. For me, that person is Rachel Hollis. Do I know Rachel personally, absolutely not. Do I look to her as a mentor and coach, absolutely yes. I check in with her social media regularly, read her books and listen to her podcasts. She is a rockstar when it comes to motivation and self growth. She is moving mountains in her community and I thrive when I follow her work. Her daily gratitude practices and goal setting have helped build a massive framework for self growth in my own life. If you are looking for a bit of an overhaul, check out her instagram and start to follow along. She puts health, wellness and family at the root of her mission and her tribe is incredible.

Last August when I started this journey, I got some of the best advice from a very unlikely source: my boss at work. Now, I don’t suggest you spill your personal drama at work, but in this case I was still fairly new to my role and my team was/is extremely small. If one person isn’t on their A game, it shows. I took a chance and was honest about my then- current situation. His advice: go to church, do the therapy and read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. This book was life changing. I was not an avid reader until I picked this one up. It’s relatable, witty and easy to get sucked into.

Look at your circle

For me, I have to be vigilant on who I have in my circle. It may or may not be true that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. I tend to agree with this statement. When I start to feel stressed or overwhelmed, the first thing I do is an evaluation of who is in my life. Is the relationship evenly yoked? Is the relationship moving me forward or holding me back? The easiest thing to do is change your surroundings and that can be as easy as changing who you are surrounded with. Be honest about your needs and clear about your boundaries. This practice can work with friends, partners and even family.

Listen to your body

Stress shows up in different ways for different people. After countless doctors visits, tests and hundreds of dollars, I found out that my body’s reaction to stress is through my stomach. With awareness, I can now understand that when I start to take on more than I should or am dealing with more than I can handle, my stomach goes completely out of wack- nausea, trouble digesting, acid reflux, loss of appetite- just to name a few. The best thing I can do for myself is be aware and then unpack the stress. Listening to my body has been a game changer. On a different note, if you were anticipating some sort of message about me finally loving every inch and pound on my 5’2 frame, that isn’t this kind of post. Years of insecurities and the love/hate relationship that most women feel about their bodies are still very much present with me as well. It’s gotten easier but it never goes away.

Do all the little (or big) things

I probably paint my nails 4 times a week. I know thats excessive, I know thats probably not good for me or my nails but its something small that I can do for myself when I need a little something. The little things for me look like: reading a book, listening to a podcast, a hair or face mask, a bubble bath, lighting a candle or diffusing essential oils, journaling or a hot cup of tea. These things don’t take long to do but they pay off big time. The bigger little things look like going to church, visiting my therapist every 6 weeks, joining a gym and staying consistent or traveling. I traveled alone for the first time this year and it was so liberating! Find the things that bring you the most joy and then keep doing them. It helps to make a list and rotate the activities throughout the week.

Loving myself well helps me show up better not only for me but for my community. It helps me to be a better sister, aunt, daughter and friend. Now, just imagine who you could be if you showed up for yourself better. If you took the time to understand your needs and show yourself more love, how that would show up in the lives of the people you love. In some cases, it takes real work. You may need to strap on your work boots, get messy and build a new foundation for your life. It may take stepping outside of your comfort zone like I did when I joined a new gym or traveled alone. It may be more familiar like when I returned back to my faith or found a new therapist. Nowadays, I worry less, have more open and honest conversations with the people in my life and take more time for myself. A major take away: this is not selfish, it is necessary. Too often we view self care as only caring about yourself. We get so caught up in how we show up for others that we forget to show up for ourselves. The reality is that if you do not show up well for yourself, you can not pour into others. Take some time to identify what “fills your cup” and do it as often as you can. I wish you luck on your journey and hope you too find what brings you more love and less stress.

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