We often don’t think about self-care until it’s too late. When we’re run down and spent, we schedule a massage for the following week and consider that taking care of ourselves. We skimp on sleep by working late nights so we stay in bed for an extra hour on Sunday and figure that’ll make up for it. Or we schedule a night out with friends after weeks of feeling off at work or in our relationships to have an all-out venting session.
The problem with waiting until we feel really bad to take care of ourselves is that we let ourselves get to the point where we feel really bad. When we wait until we feel awful, it affects us – and everyone around us – way before we hit rock bottom. Our ability to concentrate and focus suffers. Our stress and anxiety levels rise. We can get snappy and impatient. Or we might feel unmotivated and stuck (then beat ourselves up for being unmotivated and stuck and so begins a vicious cycle).
The key to self-care is taking care of ourselves consistently and making it a priority. When we put self-care at the top of our list, we maintain a steady space where we feel good and we don’t bottom out.
Now I know what you may be thinking. “Wouldn’t it be nice to get weekly massages?” “I’d love to sleep in every day!” “As much as I love nights out, we’re all busy and don’t always have the time.” That’s why it’s important to keep self-care simple. That doesn’t mean that you have to skip the bigger things you do to feel good. You just need an arsenal of things that you can do simply and without too much effort in your day, everyday, to feel good.
Here are 8 ways to incorporate some me-time into your life:
1. Breathe. Breathing is something we do automatically. But when we’re stressed, anxious or bent out of shape, we breathe differently. We take quick and shallow breaths. The next time you you feel overwhelmed or frustrated, take the time to breathe mindfully. Taking even 5 mindful breaths slowly in and out, can do wonders for getting you settled and grounded.
2. Move. The more you’re sitting, the less you’re moving and our bodies were made to move. Now that the weather’s nice, try to incorporate a walk into your workday. If you really are crunched for time and can’t spare 5 or 10 minutes for a walk, just stand up. Roll your neck and shoulders. Bend your knees. Stretch your arms. Stretch and move your body in any way you feel comfortable. Just move.
3. Connect. When we’re busy we can often forget how important it is to connect with others. If you work in an office setting and need something from your co-worker, why not take a walk over to have a chat about what you need rather than sending an email? If you work from home, it can be very motivating to get some work done at a café. Sometimes just getting around other people is what we need to feel re-energized.
4. Wear something you feel good in. You know that sharp outfit you’ve been saving for a special occasion? The one that’s been hanging in your closet for the last 8 months? Time to pull it out! We can often forget to have fun with ourselves when we’re feeling off. If wearing something makes you feel good, you’ll walk more confidently. Never underestimate how a change in your body language can change how you feel overall.
5. Start your day with ease. When the alarm clock goes off, rather than grumble as you hit snooze ten times before getting up, wake up mindfully. As you open your eyes, stretch your body. Take a deep breath in and be thankful for the day ahead of you. Ease into your day as you get out of bed. Resist the urge to check your emails or reflect on your mounting to-do list. Take 10 to 15 minutes in the morning to ease into the day before you have to get going with all the things ahead of you.
6. You are what you eat. Think about your body as an engine that needs the right fuel to get going and keep moving. When you start the day with a mug of steaming coffee, you’re essentially steam-rolling your system to get started. Before you do anything else, have a tall glass of water (add some lemon or apple cider vinegar for flavour). Allow your body to re-hydrate. Try to be mindful of what you’re putting into your body during the day and how it’ll help or hinder your energy.
7. Restart the day whenever you need to. If you’re in the middle of a crazy day and the shit hits the fan, remind yourself that you can reset the day at any point. When we carry drama from one moment to the next, it has a cumulative effect. Rather than carry the baggage of the day with you, recognize that you’re having a rough day, give yourself a hug and start again. Feel lighter by letting go of any stress you may be feeling and remember that you can either let the stress bring you down or decide to move beyond it.
8. End your day right. Think of some rituals that work for you at the end of the day to unwind. What you want to do is let go of stress – anything that may have been difficult or overwhelming – and know that the next day doesn’t have to be the same. Take a bath. Read a book in bed. Meditate. Journal. Do some yoga. Pick something that you like to do every night before bed to focus on good stuff as opposed to reliving the stress of the day.
I’ve teamed up with Jule’s Wellness for a Self Love Challenge running from July 20 – 25th, 2015. Enter for a chance to win a curated box of goodies designed to help you feel good and a 60-Minute Soul Healing Session with me. Check out their blog for the deets and good luck!