Stress and Self-Care {Part II}


In {Part I} of this blog you learned about what stress is, how to recognize it, and how to cope with stressful situations. Here, in {Part II}, we will focus on how we should think about stress and self-care.

stress ball

We actually need stress

We think about stress as the bad guy or the enemy and we want to eliminate it from our lives for good. Well, getting rid of stress completely would not be the best solution. Why? Because we need stress. Moderate amounts stress can actually be helpful in willing strength and focus. Science even says that stress can make you healthier!

According to psychologicst, Kelly McGonigal, what matters is how we think about stress. McGonigal says that if we can’t change stress from external factors, we need to change it internally, within ourselves. We can do this by changing our view and approach about stress. Think that STRESS = CHALLENGE, and then be better than stress! This paradigm shift could literally be life saving!

The research findings behind her conclusion and even more surprising upsides of stress:

  • Stress may actually be correlated with longevity if it is not viewed negatively. 
  • A possible cure to negative effects of stress is giving to others.
  • Moderate stress can lead to cell growth in the brain’s learning centers.
  • Stress can call for helper hormones to vulnerable areas.
  • Stress can activate both good and bad habits.
  • A stress-is-enhancing mindset may have lasting effects.

Extra cool info from the McGonigal’s TED talk: Did you know that Oxytocin is a stress hormone? And what it does to your heart? Watch the video and find out more!


It is not easy to set our mid to think positive about stress. While we are busy with switching our mindset, stress can still have a negative effect on us. We might lose energy and motivation as a result. How can we overcome these moments?

Practice Self-Care

Self-care is a choice to engage in activities that helps to gain or maintain optimal level of overall health. It includes physical, psychological, emotional, social and spiritual components of an individual’s well-being. 

Why take care of yourself? There is a great illustration by James Clear, called Your Bucket of Health and Energy  It looks like this: Imagine that your health and energy are a bucket of water and there are things that fill your bucket up (sleep, laughter, joy, meditation, your hobby, etc.) and there are other things that drain your bucket (lifting weights, stress, problems, anxiety, etc.).


The goal is to keep the bucket at an optimal level. In order to do that we need to refill our bucket on a regular basis (eating well, having fun, sleeping and in general making time for recovery). If you let your bucket get too empty, your body will force you to rest through illness and injury. Recovery is not negotiable! Take care of yourself starting today!


Self-care is not a to-do list. It’s not a list of things you need to check off every day. Self-care is more about paying attention and listening to ourselves. 

Here are some specific questions for practicing self-care by Margarita Tartakovsky:

By answering these questions you start to focus on yourself. It will help you to make a decision that actually comfort you. Keep in mind there are no good or bad answers! And try to be honest with yourself.

Ask Yourself

  • How do I want to feel today?
  • How can my loved ones best support me right now or through a challenging situation that’s coming up?
  • How can I celebrate myself today?
  • What’s the most respectful choice for me?
  • What do I need?
  • What honors my body?What feels good to me?
  • What feels freeing or blissful or abundant?
  • What is a small self-compassionate step I can take?
  • What feels less overwhelming in the chaos of today or tomorrow?
  • What am I really feeling today?
  • What soothes my soul?
  • What am I truly hungry for? What will nourish that hunger?
  • What might serve as a salve for my current struggles?

Difficult to find your answers? Let me help you!

Need inspiration for self-care activities? Here are 101 suggestions for self-care and a great self-care toolbox.

Feel free to share your answers, comments and ideas in the IPSN Community Facebook Page! Let’s inspire each other!


Need guidance to find out your stress management technique? Or to practice self-care? Let me know! 


Erika Szilagyi is from Hungary. She moved to the Netherlands 6 years ago. She is a Psychologist & Life Coach. She helps people make their life a great one. Send her an e-mail!



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