Life happens. Stress, deadlines, and a never-ending list of to-dos await us each and every day. Yes, it’s a beautiful life – absolutely! But, so often, this unique and complex beauty becomes obscured as we forget ourselves in the hurry of the day. However, we all have the opportunity to create an experience of abundance, joy, and holistic health within the hustle of each day. It all starts with prioritizing self-care practices. Another buzzword you are likely sick of hearing, we know! But, this phrase is popular for good reason …
Socrates said, “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” However, you don’t need to be a wizened, Greek philosopher to know what works best for you. No matter what your mother may have claimed, no one knows you better than yourself. It just takes honesty and patience to uncover what you really need.
Perceiving yourself as your own best friend (the kind that’s brutally, but lovingly real) will help you be truthful about what your body, mind, and spirit truly need to be healthy and happy.
Be kind to yourself as you learn to recognize – and even appreciate – your shortcomings and individual areas for improvement. Then choose a few practical self-care practices that feel like a well-needed gift to yourself to help you better balance those areas.
Self-care isn’t complicated; it’s often just a simple choice to do something that will improve your well-being in the short and/or long term. Below are ten ideas to get you started. Which ones resonate with you most?
Yes, soaking in a bubble bath seriously counts as self-care! After a long day at work, what could be better than unwinding in a warm, sudsy, aromatic bath? Adding a high-quality soap with essential oils to the mix will transform your tub into a veritable spa experience. Light a beeswax candle or put on some music to help set the relaxing mood.
Still not convinced taking care of yourself could feel, oh so good? A 2018 Japanese study found that immersion bathing improved markers related to stress, blood flow, and pain. How’s that for self-love?
No cardboard involved here! Box breathing is just a tried and true method for calming the autonomic nervous system (ANS). Feel a sense of clarity and relaxation as you gently inhale to a count of 5, retain the breath for a count of 5, and slowly exhale to a count of 5. Repeat for 3-5 rounds any time you need a microdose of Zen.
For those with extra-busy schedules, try adding a calendar reminder to pause and do a box breathing exercise every couple of hours. You may be amazed by how this simple self-care practice will help you get through your day with less stress and more focus.
After your box breathing practice, you are already calm and in a more relaxed state. You can take full advantage of this by closing your eyes and spending a few minutes in meditation.
No need to pressure yourself to completely clear your mind. Simply tune into the sensations and thoughts that arise, then let them drift away.
After carving out a few minutes a day for meditation, you may want to try to have longer sessions – especially if you are already loving the mental benefits! For help getting started, read these tips.
Almost any form of movement will improve joint and muscle function by improving your metabolism and blood flow. But being outside can bolster health even more. There’s just something healing about fresh air and proximity to nature. Go for a leisurely hike in the forest, ride your bike around the neighborhood, or enjoy a refreshing swim in the ocean. Great for the mind, body, and spirit!
Journaling is one of the more commonly known self-care practices, but you don’t have to start off with “Dear Diary” (unless you want to). Any form of creative writing, whether it be journaling or poetry, can help externalize internal chatter. The trick is to write without self-censorship. Don’t think. Just write down whatever comes to mind. You will be astounded at what you write down when you open yourself to the process.
Social media is great for keeping in touch with important people in your life. However, if you constantly find yourself mindlessly scrolling through your news feed, it may be time to reassess your relationship with your digital devices. Challenge yourself by casting aside all forms of social media and digital news this weekend. No, this doesn’t mean you have to cut yourself off from the world like some cave-dweller. Instead, schedule a spa date with your bestie and socialize luxuriously.
Looking for a more engaging way to incorporate self-care? Learn how to play the ukulele, knit a blanket, write a line of HTML code, or say “Hello” in German (“Guten Tag“). Developing a new skill not only improves confidence and makes you more knowledgeable, but it also enhances the functioning of the brain by creating new neural networks.
Similar benefits may also be gleaned by simply changing your daily routine: try brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand, take a new route to work, cook a new recipe. Anything that breaks normal procedures and fully engages your attention will be of benefit.
When we are busy learning, we are also less likely to dwell on anything negative that may be worrying or upsetting us.
This one’s a cinch: boost your favorite tunes and enjoy! Entire books have been written about music’s seemingly magical ability to promote feelings of well-being and joy.
Bonus points if you choose to dance or sing along!
When you care for your community, you care for yourself. If shopping is your thing, indulge! But, do so as a means to enrich your community. Next time you are filling the cart, think about who you’d like to help out. There are so many people that could benefit from your generosity and compassion. Local shelters are always in need of supplies. Choose a cause that you are passionate about, and find out how you can lend a hand.
Of course, if you aren’t a shopper, there are plenty of other ways to get involved as well! Contact some local organizations to find a good fit for your interests and schedule.
You know yourself better than anyone else: What do you need more of in your life? What truly gets you excited? Get creative and dream up your own “top 10” self-care practices list. Be sure to include personalized ideas that cater to the health of your unique mind, body, and soul. Have fun with it! Make self-care something you look forward to each and every day.
After a few months of incorporating your new habits, make sure to take some time to acknowledge the positive changes you’ve seen in yourself and be proud of making the effort to prioritize your well-being.