Do you rush through life, juggling more than is healthy? You’re not alone. Many people focus on the needs of others while continuously neglecting their own. But you can only push yourself so far before your body and mind rebel, making you stressed out, anxious, and possibly even sick.
Listen, there’s no first-place medal for burning yourself out. In fact, it’s incredibly unhealthy. Instead, try adopting a practice of something called “self-care.” Not only will you reap huge benefits because of it, but you’ll be able to more effectively help those around you as well.
Think of it like putting the airplane cabin oxygen mask on your own face, and then tending to the passengers around you. You can’t help anyone else if you’re passed out in your seat.
So, what is self-care?
It’s really as simple as it sounds – it’s caring for yourself, by taking care of your body and mind as well as you would anyone else you love.
You may think that you don’t need any self-care, or that you don’t have time. But if you give it a try, you may be surprised at just how good you start to feel, as the anxieties of life seem to just fade away.
Feel like getting started?
Here are 10 easy self-care rituals that you can incorporate into your weekly schedule. Don’t just do them, embrace them, and look forward to them. They’re your treat for being you!
1. Date Yourself
Yes, you spend plenty of time with yourself, rushing around doing things for others. But how about enjoying a nice “date” with yourself – a solid dose of “me time”? It doesn’t have to be a day-long affair, and it doesn’t have to cost you anything other than a little bit of time.
Get out and do something you love – walk around your favorite museum or gallery, take a book and read in the park, go to a movie matinee, go out for a delicious breakfast, book into your local day spa, or hit the flea markets!
2. Write Out Your Thoughts
Writing out your thoughts can be just as powerful as meditation. It allows you to clear out the stress and negativity that’s bouncing around in your head. Just 5-10 minutes of writing a day can be effective.
The secret here is to not censor, or even pay attention to, what you’re writing. This is known as “stream of consciousness” writing (or a “brain dump”) and it means that you will write every single thing that enters your head, even if it’s: “Um, um, um, I don’t know what to say…” Just keep writing!
When you’re done, scrunch up the paper and toss it in the garbage or burn it – sending the negativity as far away as possible. Writing like this can be a great morning ritual to clear your mind.
3. Do One Thing Every Day That Makes You Feel Good
It’s not selfish to do things that make you happy. You deserve them – on a daily basis. Happiness isn’t something you should need to earn; everyone has a human right to happiness.
Make it your mission every day to do one thing that makes you happy. Use your lunch break to read in the sunshine, put on your favorite music and dance while you cook dinner, switch off your phone for an hour, or do a good deed for an unsuspecting someone.
4. Get Some Sun (Especially in winter!)
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real thing. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that depression brought on by the weather can affect up to 9 percent of the population in the colder Northern U.S. states, and it usually affects four times as many women as men. Even more of the population suffers a lesser form of this, a sort of “seasonal blah” feeling.
Light therapy is often recommended to help ease SAD symptoms, but the sun itself can be incredibly beneficial – if you have itl. If the sun is out and shining, get outside for even 10-15 minutes. The sunshine and fresh-air (even if it’s freezing cold) can be enough to shift your mood.
5. Visit Your Own Home Spa
Day spas can be incredibly expensive, but you can design your own at-home spa to enjoy equal amounts of relaxation. Draw a warm bath and sprinkle in some essential oils. Light a candle, put on some relaxing music, and kick back.
If you don’t have a bath, drop some essential oils onto a washcloth and place it on the shower floor (where the water doesn’t reach). The steam from the shower will lift the fragrance into the air. Breathe deeply, and relax.
Once you’ve bathed, wrap yourself in comfy clothes, or a robe, and curl up with an antioxidant-rich cup of green tea and a pile of magazines. And, don’t forget to shut off that phone!
6. Simplify Your Schedule/To-Do List
Keeping a “To-Do” list can be helpful, but it can also be overwhelming. You underestimate the time things take to get done, and you end up feeling guilty when you don’t cross everything off. Hey! You’re human, with normal human limitations of speed and time. So, give yourself a break.
Make a pact with yourself to simplify your schedule and to-do lists today. Block out time on your schedule for breaks, and don’t plan everything back-to-back. Life never goes to plan, so you need some wriggle room.
Aim for just three things a day on your to-do list. That’s plenty, and you’ll do a better job on each of them.
7. Enjoy a Technology-Free Day
Many parents have started implementing technology-free days for their children, which is great. But adults should take these days, too, as part of a self-care regimen.
Choose a day – ideally the weekend, when you might have fewer work commitments – and hide the phone. Text, emails, and social media posts can wait. Explain to others that they might not get an immediate answer from you over the weekend.
If you feel that you must have your phone turned on for emergencies, screen your calls, and don’t be tempted to scroll through anything else. Once you get used to doing this weekly, you’ll become addicted. It has quite the profound effect on your soul!
8. Embrace Mini-Meditations
Ideally, everyone would love to have a perfect meditation practice. The benefits of meditation have been heralded for hundreds of years, and today, scientific research supports this idea. Meditation has shown to help decrease stress, increase concentration, lower blood pressure, and increase happiness. ,,,
To help you find the motivation to get started, break down your meditation into bite-sized pieces.
Start with just five minutes a day. In no time, that five minutes will feel like five seconds, and you’ll be itching for more. It can also help to download an app offering short guided meditations, while you get the hang of things.
9. Be Still
The ability to remain still may be one of the most underrated skills that you can develop. And yes, it’s actually a skill in the modern world. For most people, sitting still for even a few minutes is difficult. There’s no TV to watch, and no smartphone to play on. But stillness promotes calmness. It leaves you with some “thinking room.” It helps you to stay in the moment, be mindful, and see the beauty around you.
Take 10-15 minutes every day to just be still in your world. Ideally, get out into nature. But if you can’t, try to find stillness where you are – during a bus or train commute, or while waiting for your dinner to cook.
10. Take A Walk
Walking is a wonderful, double-positive for self-care. It gets you exercising, and it places you firmly “in the moment,” focused on only the now. The trick is: no cellphone.
Focus on the beauty around you. Breathe in the diverse smells as you pass through varying city or nature-scapes. Observe the people you pass. Look up and really savor the architecture of the city you call home.
When oxygen is flowing, and your mind is clear, you’ll feel like you can conquer anything. If you can get in a simple walk every single day, you’ll really be firing on all cylinders.
A Last Word: Start Small
Just as with dietary changes, you should approach self-care by starting small. By easing yourself into these new habits, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed by a new routine.
Start each ritual in its smallest form – half a technology free day, a five-minute meditation, one walk a week – and increase from there. The interesting thing is that once you start to feel good and enjoy these “me” rituals, you’ll definitely want to do them more often. Here’s to your health and well-being!
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