Unwind: What to do when taking care of YOU feels like just another task on your to-do list

*Editor’s Note: The “Views from NAU” blog series highlights the thoughts of different people affiliated with NAU, including faculty members sharing opinions or research in their areas of expertise. The views expressed reflect the authors’ own personal perspectives.

By Kate Carey

Executive Assistant, Senior, Human Resources

On top of the universal grievances we have all been navigating, each of us also has a personal collection of challenging situations to manage. You may be enduring long-term, typical levels of stress or be nearing full burnout. Either way, reading one more “inspiring” article that smacks of toxic positivity or having a well-intentioned friend suggest you try meditation might just send you careening over the edge.

I am here to offer you something different today.

Take a breath.
Drop your shoulders.
Relax your jaw.
Stare out the window.
Let your brain wander.
Do nothing for a few minutes.

That’s self-care.

As a presenter on well-being, I have collected copious ideas for handling most of life’s tribulations, be they mental, emotional, physical, nutritional, spiritual, cultural, financial, intellectual, occupational, environmental or relational. These activities reset and repair your systems, many of them are supported by research, and all are supported by anecdotal evidence. Yet, even reading that list of life areas to address can be overwhelming and lead to inertia.

Go easy on yourself.
Slow your breathing.
Stretch your arms between e-mails.
Touch your toes between Zoom meetings.
Stand in the sunshine for a few minutes.

Little things can signal to your parasympathetic nervous system (which controls rest, repair and other pleasurable human activities) that you are safe and not being chased by a tiger. Self-care gestures signal to your body and mind that it can release unhelpful stress responses and allow you to cope with the moment in calmer, more productive ways.

If you have the energy to dive a bit deeper, some areas mentioned above are discussed in our impressive Live Well NAU website.

NAU Communications