Work/Life Effectiveness

6 Ways to Prioritize Your Self-Care When You’re Stressed Out

You’re busy. You’re juggling dozens of different task lists, personal priorities and work deadlines and you don’t even have a second to breathe. You’re doing a lot and you feel successful, but you’re afraid you’ll burn out if you keep up the pace.

Well, rest assured, I hear you — and I’ve got you with these six simple tips to send you on your way to stressing less, and thriving more. 

Challenge Yourself to Take 3 Deep Breaths

When your mind is whirling so fast and your body is under a state of constant stress, we can all forget to breathe. When I worked in finance, I would challenge myself to take three deep breaths every time I walked to the bathroom (no one will notice!). At night, on my walk home from the subway, I’d also challenge myself and think, “can you take three breaths by the time you get to the end of this city block?”

Ultimately I’d get to the second breath, and my mind would take over and start churning with another thought, so I’d have to gently remind myself to chill out for just one more second and get in that third inhale, exhale. 

Schedule in a Massage

Yup, outsource this one, you’re doing enough already. Take a look at your budget and find a moderately priced massage place near your home or office. When you’re busy and stressed, the simple act of human touch is a super powerful agent for your nervous system.

Massage increases circulation, reduces the stress response and works out those kinks in your neck from hunching over your computer for 10+ hour days, or those knots in your shoulders from frantically typing a response back to your boss on your phone.

Go ahead, book it. You’re worth it.

When in Doubt, Go for a Walk

Walking is a proven calming and meditative activity. Our human bodies have evolved over the centuries to absolutely love and crave long walks. We’re built for it! Walking not only helps “burn some calories” but the repetitive motion of step, step, step can calm you down, decrease the stress-response and lower cortisol levels in your body.

Even a short walk after a meal provides enough gentle motion to help digestion and also burn off extra blood sugar spikes (which prevents fat storage). Walking is also an amazing way to escape our 95% indoor lifestyle and get your daily dose of nature.

And I get it, sometimes the only way you can fit in a little movement into your busy day (especially when you don’t want to sweat and mess up your blowout) is get in a 10 minute walk around the block. Your body and mind will thank you for it.

Try Magnesium

Magnesium is a chill-out mineral — it helps regulate blood glucose and blood pressure, protects the proper functioning of the adrenals and female hormones, promotes muscle recovery, reduces sugar and chocolate cravings, enhances a sense of calm, helps you relax and allows you to sleep like a baby.

Sounds like magic, right? But here’s the problem: At least 75 percent of the American population is magnesium-depleted. So yes, that likely means you. Caffeine and alcohol and stress of modern day living further deplete our bodies of magnesium, which mean almost everyone needs to consider supplementation.

Disclaimer! I’m not a doctor, so always consult with a medical professional before beginning a supplement regime, but I do urge you to strongly consider magnesium and take it at night before bed.

Take One Thing Off Your Schedule

I know this sounds impossible, but hear me out. Open up your calendar and take a hard look at your meetings, appointments and to-do list. Be brutally honest with yourself — do you really need to have this networking coffee meeting tomorrow? Can you duck out of that holiday party? Can you lower the bar and have that packaged delivered rather than running an errand yourself?

You’ll be pleasantly relieved that when you take away that one thing from your schedule, you’ll have breathing room, a buffer zone, and your body will respond with an immediate sigh of relief. For so many high achieving perfectionists, deadlines are usually somewhat self-imposed anyways.

So be a good boss to yourself, be gentle about your expectations, and give yourself a little break.

Have Fun!

So much of the emphasis on self-care revolves around solo activities (epsom salt baths, meditation, hitting the gym, getting to sleep earlier), but often when we’re also go-go-go in our careers and focused on checking things off the list of life, we can forget to simply, slow down and have fun.

And while for so many of us, especially introverts like me, solo self-care activities are a vital part of my week, I always remind my clients that being social and having fun is part of life too!

Yes, I’m telling you that cocktails with your girlfriends, going to a stand-up comedy show (or simply watching one on Netflix), or calling your best friend from college for a laugh and walk down memory lane, reduces the stress response and will ultimately fuel your productivity in the days to follow.

Laughter reduces stress, community engagement reduces stress — so schedule in some fun, and remember there is more to life than getting things done.

Michelle Baker is a former go-go-go financial executive, who suffered from adrenal fatigue and burnout in 2014, which inspired her to change careers, attend nutrition school, and start her thriving private health coaching practice. Michelle works with busy, high achieving women to optimize their nutrition, fitness and self-care and fuel their health and career for the long term. To learn more about Michelle’s coaching, visit and grab your free 5 Health Hacks to Optimize Your Performance in the Office, or pick up a copy of her book, Self-Care in the City to read relatable stories and learn efficient tips to optimize your wellness in 2020.

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