Oh, hello. It’s that time again! Let’s blog it up. Last week we started with the idea of designating tasks as energy boosting or energy draining. This week, we’ll zoom the lens out a bit and begin to weave stress management into our schedules. This week, we’re roping in two familiar sections: stressors and self/stress-care.
When it comes to stressors, we’ll pull from two activities done a few weeks ago, listing out the stressor and type. This will help clue us into how much and which types of stress-care we need to make sure we’re prioritizing appropriately.
For example, a person with fewer stressors will have fewer needs when it comes to structured stress-care whereas a person with a greater number of stressors, and especially chronic stressors, will require more vigilance. As another example, a person whose primary stressors are short-term may be better served by self-care as a means of coping whereas a person dealing with long-term stressors will be better served by stress-care, coping with behaviors that also support long-term health.
Say I’ve got a big deadline approaching that I’m working really hard for; I may just need something to help get me through. Give me the extra glass of wine. Maybe I’ll indulge in more takeout than usual to save time. All totally fine short-term, but if I were to use those methods to deal with a chronic stressor like, say… the stress of taking care of a 16-year old diabetic cat with kidney disease and low-grade chronic pancreatitis… well, that stuff would eventually take a negative toll on me physically, turning from self-care to self-destruction.
It’s always better to use productive coping mechanisms when we can, but there is nothing wrong with coping in ways that are indulgent so long as it’s short-term. It’s when that indulgence turns long-term that it can become self-destructive. This is why I always recommend long-term stressors be addressed with productive coping mechanisms; it’s the best way to set ourselves up for long-term health while also managing the existing stress.
Self-Care versus Stress-Care
I went over the distinction between self and stress-care in greater detail last week, and now we’re going to start weaving it into daily life. So let’s start with a few hard and fast rules: 1) not every task will be self or stress care. There are plenty of things we do that won’t fall into either category. In fact, a lot of daily life won’t. And this, my friends, is precisely the reason it’s specifically built into our planning – because it can be so easy to forget to do it; 2) the amount and type of each that we’ll need will vary based on our current stressors, as well the number of tasks we have that drain our energy; and 3) things can fall into both categories, which is what I had referred to as the “sweet spot” last week.
Let’s hit it with a couple of quick examples. I would say routine things like doing dishes and laundry aren’t self *or* stress care. Sure, it feels good to get it done, but unless we do truly enjoy these tasks (self-care), they’re just that – tasks. But since each task will affect our energy levels, this gives us a nice visual reference when we are seeking actual balance. On the flip side, something like taking the bike out with the kid(s) to ride around and make memories in motion, or getting out to hike the woods, or kayaking your local body of water, hit that sweet spot of self-care and stress-care.
Sum that sh!t up
Now that we’ve got our tasks and stressors listed with a visual reference of where our energy will be boosted and drained, we can plan our days accordingly (as much as possible), which includes building in any additional self or stress-care we may need. I love to maximize my energy boosters by sprinkling them throughout my day to help reinvigorate me and give my brain a break. It’s almost as good as that 3pm coffee you know you’ll regret later.
We’ll be moving into a bit of tough love next week, talking about the things we need to do for ourselves for our long-term health, and how to shift our perspective about some of these topics. I’ll be diving deeper into “healthy behaviors” as productive coping mechanisms to manage stress, adding in ways to visually track and plan things out.
To be clear, I want this to be as safe a space as possible when it comes to food. Nutrition is super important, but I will not be providing any support for tracking food/calories/macros. That is a very specific type of tracking that should be done for very specific physical goals, which is not the purpose of this daily planner or my content in general. My goal is to help you help yourself feel good, and that most certainly doesn’t come from strictly striving toward physical goals.