15 Emotional Self-Care Ideas For Stressful Times

During stressful times, it’s often hard to take the time you need to focus on yourself.

Work and life responsibilities may get in the way of your health and well-being, making it difficult to manage your emotions.

If you frequently feel angry, depressed, or anxious, you may need to devote more time to your emotional self-care.

While many people find it easy to deal with their physical needs, your emotional state can directly impact your overall health.

Stress leads to an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.

Learning how to take care of yourself emotionally may help you improve your overall health while giving you a foundation for dealing with challenging situations. 

What Is Emotional Self-Care?

Emotional self-care is the process of identifying and nurturing your emotions. This includes recognizing and accepting your negative feelings and understanding their impact on your actions. It can be easy to be critical of yourself instead of offering the same support that you show to others.

woman on bathtub self-care for stressful times

According to Kristen Neff, Ph.D., a leading pioneer in the field of self-compassion, people often struggle to accept their negative feelings, which prevents them from letting go of emotions.

Neff explains that self-compassion is the key to being more mindful of your negative thoughts and bringing yourself back to the present. The following three components are necessary for letting go emotionally:

  • Self-kindness – treat yourself the way you treat others
  • Common humanity – you are not alone in your feelings
  • Mindfulness – become more aware of your emotions

Unfortunately, about 55% of adults struggle with stress each day. If you experience daily stress, take the time to practice some of the following emotional self-care activities. 

15 Emotional Self-Care Ideas

Emotional self-care is an internal process that requires honest reflection. You need to identify your emotions and learn how to cope with them. These 15 self-care methods can help. 

1. Forgive Yourself for Committing Small Mistakes

The first step to understanding how to take care of yourself emotionally is to forgive yourself. Understand that you are not perfect and that everyone makes mistakes.

Harsh self-criticism makes you feel more depressed and insecure. Give yourself more compassion.

When something does not go as planned, treat yourself the same way you would treat a friend. Instead of criticizing a friend for making a simple mistake, you would likely offer support.

2. Set Aside Time for Yourself Each Day

To self-nurture, you need to devote time to yourself. Try to set aside at least 15 minutes each day for quiet reflection. Think about your day or the previous day and the emotions that you experienced.

woman eating veggies self-care for stressful times

Taking the time to reflect helps you identify your emotions. You can then think about how those emotions impacted you.

Did they make you feel better or worse? If the emotions led to negativity, try to think about what you might have done differently.

This mindfulness allows you to be more truthful with yourself about your emotional self-care.

3. Maintain Emotional Boundaries

Other people’s emotions may interfere with your emotional state. If you want more control over your emotions, you need to establish boundaries. This keeps others’ negative emotions from becoming your own.

Boundaries help you know where to draw the line when dealing with others’ problems.

Maintaining these boundaries may require you to learn how to say “no.” Avoid overcommitting yourself to helping others.

Doing so will leave you with more time for emotional self-care.

4. Identify Your Emotional Triggers

Learning what triggers your emotions helps you anticipate both positive and negative feelings.

You can then choose to limit exposure to situations that may trigger negative emotions.

If you identify the trigger, you become more aware of how it impacts your emotional health.

For example, you may find that you get angry when a co-worker receives a promotion. While you cannot avoid all triggers, identifying them allows you to manage your emotional response.

5. Pause Before Reacting to a Situation

After identifying your triggers, you may still react impulsively to certain situations. To give yourself time to manage your emotional response, pause before reacting. Take a deep breath and count to three.

Before reacting, you need to understand the other person’s intention. Most likely, the other person does not understand how their words are impacting your emotions. Letting go emotionally helps you focus on the other person’s needs.

6. Start Your Morning with a Compliment

Compliment yourself at the start of each day to help promote a healthier self-image. For example, when getting ready for work,

woman happy waking up self-care for stressful times

Complimenting yourself helps you understand that you deserve to be happy. This also keeps you from focusing on flaws or becoming too self-critical. 

7. Engage in Positive Self-Talk

Complimenting yourself is one example of positive self-talk. Along with a morning compliment, you should engage in this practice throughout the day. 

When experiencing negative emotions, talk to yourself the same way you would talk to a child.

Use positive encouragement and support to walk yourself through the problem.

Showing self-compassion and talking through the problem helps you manage your thought process instead of letting emotions take control.

8. Challenge Your Inner Critic

Self-criticism rarely includes true statements. Each person is their own harshest critic.

People frequently tell themselves that they are stupid, fat, ugly, or incompetent. Instead of ignoring this inner critic, listen to it and challenge it.

Recognize that these thoughts do not represent reality. Challenge your inner critic by replacing the harsh criticisms with words of encouragement and support.

9. Listen to Your Favorite Music

Listening to music that you enjoy provides many psychological benefits, including the ability to fight stress and anxiety.

Several studies have found that music reduces symptoms related to generalized anxiety disorder while listening to relaxing music limits stress.

If you have had a bad day, put on your favorite music. Along with reducing stress and anxiety, listening to a few songs may boost your motivation and reduce depression.


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10. Do Not Apologize for Your Feelings

Apologizing for your feelings keeps you from authentically expressing yourself. It also forces you to associate your feelings with negativity. 

Permit yourself to have a wide range of emotions.

For example, if you have an introverted personality, you should not apologize for preferring to skip a large social gathering.

11. Spend More Time on Your Hobbies

Everyone needs hobbies or outside interests to maintain positive mental health. When your entire routine revolves responsibilities without time for yourself, you may experience stress, depression, and anger.

Find at least one fun hobby or activity that you can engage in outside of work or home. This may include something simple, such as going for walks in nature or browsing antique stores.

The goal is to spend at least a little bit of time each week away from the environments that bring the most stress to your life.

12. Express Gratitude Every Chance You Get

Studies show that grateful people experience better psychological health. Expressing gratitude increases your happiness and helps fight depression. It also helps foster greater empathy, allowing you to become more sensitive to the emotions of others.

Showing gratitude may also keep you from experiencing feelings of resentment for other people’s accomplishments. Instead of getting angry when someone else gets a promotion, show your gratitude.

13. Build a Strong Support System 

While the goal of emotional self-care activities is to help you manage your emotions, there are times when you will need a little outside help. Build a support system that includes friends or family that can nurture you without adding to your anxiety or stress.

women shoulder to shoulder backs self-care for stressful times

Make a list of people that you can count on for advice or an open ear when you feel down. Listening to their encouraging words provides examples that you can use to encourage yourself the next time that you experience negative emotions.

14. Try to Eat a Balanced Diet

Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables may promote better mental health, giving you more emotional strength for dealing with negative feelings. 

Studies show that diets high in refined sugars impair brain function. When the brain is deprived of quality nutrition, it becomes prone to inflammation and oxidative stress, which also impacts your mood.

For better mental health, try to replace sugar-filled snacks and meals with fresh, whole foods.

15. Maintain an Exercise Routine

Along with a healthy, balanced diet, frequent exercise can boost your emotional state.

Working out relieves stress and tension while releasing beneficial endorphins. You may experience greater clarity, helping you to better recognize your emotions.

If you struggle to find the time to work out regularly, try to be more active throughout the day. Choose the furthest parking space from an entrance, take stairs instead of elevators, and avoid sitting for prolonged periods of time.

How will you practice emotional self-care?

Self-care is essential to your overall well-being. An inability to identify and recognize your emotions may lead to additional stress, which takes its toll on your physical and mental health.

Emotional self-care can help you understand your emotions. When you accept positive and negative feelings, you gain more control over your emotional state. You may even find it easier to avoid reacting impulsively to negative situations.

If you are tired of feeling depressed, angry, or stressed, start practicing the emotional self-care activities discussed here. Before expressing your feelings, take a few deep breaths.

Learn how to stop saying “yes” to everything and spend more time focusing on your mental well-being. Along with these suggestions, continue to find new ways to promote greater emotional self-care.

If you frequently feel angry, depressed, or anxious, you may need to devote more time to your emotional self-care.  While many people find it easy to deal with their physical needs, your emotional state can directly impact your overall health. #self-care #stress #mentalhealth #mindfulness #selflove
Barrie Davenport
 

Barrie is a certified life coach and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. She has been a featured writer for The Huffington Post, Maria Shriver, and Zen Habits. She is the creator of six popular self-improvement courses. She writes books on relationship skills, emotional abuse, mindfulness, and more.

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