Will you take this 10-day destress challenge for self-care?
I dare you. No. I double dog dare you to participate in this self care exercise. It is guaranteed to be insightful at the very least. It’s not the best idea to offer guarantees to people you won’t ever have the opportunity to meet, but I am throwing caution into the trees and doing it anyway. Why? Because this will be a fruitful look into yourself. You are bound to walk away from it with new awareness and will learn a useful lesson in stress management.
If we were to really boil it down, like a chef does with a delicate glaze, we would be able to pinpoint stress as the number one biggest problem in our daily lives. Sometimes it’s silent for many years and suddenly illness springs forth from seemingly nowhere. It’s not nowhere though, it’s the caverns of our hidden anxieties, worries, sleeplessness, not-so-awesome-diets and simply the inability to see where it hides.
When you stop- and do it long enough to be free from the rope of thoughts tangling you up in a frizz, you will learn something incredible about yourself. That you are inherently wise and wonderful and you deserve more peace in your life.
Day One: Just Breathe
Take a deep breath. Sit up completely straight or lay flat. Posture is primary. Let your eyelids become heavy and take another breath. Hold it to the count of four. Release as slowly and completely as possible. Repeat inhaling through the nose, exhaling through the nose. Focus on the luxurious, abundant oxygen coming into your body, feeding every cell with pure life force. Exhale and really sink into the deepest state of rest your body is capable of.
Imagine a moment when you were having fun, laughing and feeling joyful. Let this memory fill your mind the way breath fills your lungs. This is who you really are; free, content, open to the wonder of life. The challenge is to breathe this way for TEN focused MINUTES!!
Day Two: Date with self
A date with Self. Mark it on the calendar people because this one’s important! The idea is that you will indulge yourself a bit in a way that pushes you a touch outside of your comfort zone. This is not meant to cause anxiety, however giving our fears a good plucking once in a while will keep us fresh.
So, take yourself on a nice long walk in the woods. Take a picnic and find a spot to sit for 10-20 minutes. Practice breathing again. Connect with nature in whatever way feels authentic for you. If you feel called ask the forest permission to take a little something back with you. Even if it feels silly. Sacred reciprocity is something we should all be more mindful of.
Day Three: Do Something Silly
Do something silly. Yep, it bursts stress like needles to a balloon. As in sport a supa fly pair of ridiculous sunglasses with those really fabulous orange corduroy pants that are begging to come out of the closet! Bowling shoes? Yaaaas! I mean it. Silly connects us to the inner kid. The one that was told not to act silly. When we asked why, we were charged with being defiant. Ga’head- be defiant. Be fully alive. Paint your nails neon pink and wave at every frowny face you pass. Hand out flowers. Be ironic. Be not boring. Be uniquely you.
Day Four: Fresh is the best
Go to the Farmer’s Market or whatever version of this you have where you live and buy the freshest produce you ever did see. Bring your list of items that you’ll need for the delicious new dish you’re going to try out. Keep it simple like a summer smoked veggie salad or yam stuffed bell peppers. Get a sparkly water and some fresh melon to make a beautiful ice cold drink and invite your partner, friend, etc to come enjoy some low key hammock moments. The challenge is to TURN OFF YOUR PHONE and be present.
Day Five: Tech detox
Remember the ’90s? Maybe you were 5 and if so, I forgive you. But way back in the day we didn’t have cell phones that tracked our sleep schedules or told us how to meditate. They didn’t literally have full access to our entire lives. We had “landlines”. Weird, right? Now, we have screen addictions and are perpetually bombarded with messaging, overstimulated by light, sound and the pressure to stay “connected”.
It’s a misnomer because it prevents us from truly connecting with anyone, including ourselves. The challenge here is to go the entire day with as little technology as possible- less phone/app/texting/TV/movie/game/dating/etc. See what happens. Maybe use a pen and write down what you notice. Spell everything correctly with proper grammar.
Day Six: Pamper yourself
Get a massage or pedicure or haircut. It sounds simple and so what? Why wouldn’t the simplest self care be a perfect stress management tool? We think of it as a luxury maybe or perhaps as a necessity. Either way, reframe the experience and choose the one that feels most like a treat. The challenge is to spend the appointment in a space of gratitude for your ability to experience this side of life.
Day Seven: Sing
Attend Kirtan. For no other reason than to exercise your wind pipes. It will also help you relax because it isn’t about your ability to sing as much as it is about trying something new, meeting new people and besides, singing impacts the vagus nerve which is directly responsible for a parasympathetic response (relaxation response). It’s the other kind of breathwork!
Day Eight: Give your time
Bring a friend lunch, read a book to a child, spend some quality quiet time with your pet or a friend/neighbor’s pet, work in the garden, repot a plant and donate it to the local daycare, paint a picture for your partner, collage with your kids, build a treehouse for the community center, call your mom. You only have to pick one. The challenge here is to offer your time giving to someone else. An act of kindness is the best kind of act.
Day Nine: Mindfulness
Honestly, folks. Sometimes it just comes down to choice. We choose how to live each day and it often takes a very uncomfortable situation to help us realize things have gotten out of hand. If you’re not happy, you know it. If you’re jazzed, you feel it. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle because it’s more realistic that day to day is relatively the same.
The challenge to destress today is really about deciding for yourself how you will do it. It requires a little self love to look a bit deeper and see that you are the only person who can truly sustain a healthy lifestyle. It takes practice and it starts with mindfulness. Stress management is about being aware and taking simple but key steps to make a change.
Day Ten: Spend quality time with yourself
Commit to spend time with your self each day for a minimum of 15 minutes without any stimulation or interruptions. You can do this. You need to do this. Your long amazing life will thank you for it.
I’d say good luck, but you don’t need luck for stress management. All you need is a little curiosity and the willingness to try. Let us know how it goes!