Another year has come and gone and there’s still a good chance we let some things go … like our self-care.
It’s important to practice self-care at all times and it begins with simple steps for our body, mind, and spirit – each day of the week. After all, it’s a practice!
Personally, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed, tired, and stressed. I’m not alone. Chances are that most of you have felt the same over the last (nearly) two years. Maybe even before the pandemic began.
It’s also likely that some of you, like me, haven’t been on track with practicing self-care. Perhaps this isn’t something you feel you have time for. Well, you do. So let’s get to the list.
According to Kim Johnson, Wellness Coordinator and Certified Health Education Specialist for the Davis School District in Farmington, Utah, “It’s important to remember that self-care doesn’t have to be something elaborate or life-changing. Even something small and simple can make an impact on our well-being.”
When we learn (or remember) to eat healthfully, move our body, reduce stress, and get up and walk away for a moment (or two) we’re practicing self-care and on our way to a healthier life. We’ll likely feel better, too.
Kim and I both agreed that sometimes we just need to breathe – and that kicks off our list of Self-Care Tips.
This could simply mean taking a few deep and controlled breaths meaning you breathe in, hold your breath for a count of 3 or 4, and then slowly breathe out. Breathwork helps with relaxation and is one of the best self-care tips.
We can have peace within and it’s a practice in mindfulness, too.
Stephanie Ludwig, Director of Spiritual Wellness, my go-to at Canyon Ranch Wellness Resort in Tucson, AZ offers ‘Practice Peace in the Storm’ and you can experience it here.
2. Did you know that making other people feel good has lasting positive effects on your own life?
It does. So, smile. Say “Thank You.” Compliment someone. Post something on social media that will put a smile on someone’s face. Go out of your way to make someone’s day. Positivity is contagious!
3. Find your Mantra
A personal mantra is an affirmation to motivate and inspire you to be your best self. It is typically a positive phrase or statement that you use to affirm the way you want to live your life. The true value of a mantra comes when it is audible, visible, and in your thoughts. Learn something from Stewart Smalley and speak up because you’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggonit, people like you!
• I am strong and can handle anything that comes my way with grace.
• My life is awesome, and I have everything I need.
• I can achieve anything I set out to do.
• I am kind. I am helpful. I am at my best when I serve others.
• I got this!
• I am smart and able to accomplish my goals.
• Yes, I can!
4. Take breaks and drink 2 glasses of water
Not only does this take 5 minutes away from the computer or other grueling tasks, but it also has the added benefit of increasing your water intake for the day. Proper hydration is key to our bodies working at optimal levels. Benefits of staying hydrated include, keeping your body cool, promoting cardiovascular health, cleansing your body from the inside, joint and muscle health, and keeping skin supple, just to name a few.
Do yourself a favor and turn this into a mindful exercise. Put everything down, go and get a glass of water and notice how it feels going down. Don’t rush through, take your time to sip and just be. Repeat with another glass, and you’ve completed mindfulness along with increasing your hydration level. Check and check!
With all of the extra hand washing, skin can easily become dry, itchy, and even crack. Moisturizing can trigger the senses of smell, touch, and sight all at once and be a calming practice. Treat yourself to a yummy smelling hand cream or put a couple of drops of essential oil into a fragrance-free lotion. Take 3 minutes to slowly massage it into your hands, close your eyes, and breathe it in. You’ll be feeling calmer in no time!
6. Relax your shoulders
Most of us carry tension in our shoulders, and they can creep up during the day without us even noticing. Progressive Muscle Relaxation is a great technique that helps you tune in to your tension and teach your body to recognize the difference between tense and relaxed muscles.
From your toes, all the way up to your head, squeeze each muscle group for the count of five and then release. Pay attention to how it feels when you release, and how nice the relaxed muscle feels! Spend 5 minutes each day doing this, and your body will thank you.
7. Got 10 minutes to spare? How about trying a 10-minute body workout?
No equipment needed! If you are like me, you are spending a lot of time sitting at your computer these days. How about setting a timer and getting your body moving throughout the day? Try this workout by My Fitness Pal.
Dance it out everywhere—down the hall, while you are cooking dinner, during a commercial break. Not only does dancing burn calories and boost your mood but it boasts multiple other health benefits, so Dance Like Nobody is Watching!
9. Take a power nap
A short nap of 20 – 30 minutes is recommended to boost memory, cognitive skills, creativity, and energy level. A power nap provides significant benefit for improved alertness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with normal nighttime sleep. A study by NASA found that a 26-minutes was the “sweet spot” for a nap, improving alertness by 54% and performance by 34%.
Make it quick. Set your alarm for 30 minutes or less. This is key if you don’t want to wake up groggy!
Go dark. Nap in a dark room or wear an eye mask…blocking out light helps you fall asleep faster.
Stay warm. Keep a blanket nearby because your body temperature drops while you snooze.
10. Do Something Artistic
A recent study suggests that the stress-related hormone, cortisol, lowers significantly after just 45 minutes of art (Reference: Kaimal, Ray, & Muniz, 2016).
The medium doesn’t matter and your talent level doesn’t matter. So, pick up your colored pencils, chalk, paintbrush, markers, doodle pad, or collage supplies and give it a go!
11. Look Ahead
At this crazy time, it can be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It can be helpful to have something to look forward to. Maybe it is something simple like going for a walk/hike in your favorite local place or planning to get take-out from your favorite restaurant and then having a picnic. Or, maybe it is something bigger like going on that dream vacation next year or further out.
Whatever it is, make a plan, write it down, and post it where you see it every day! Some ideas could be:
• Make a vision board or a dream book.
• Write about it in DETAIL in your journal.
• Create Pinterest boards full of your favorite quotes, travel destinations, or inspiring photos.