We hear a lot about self-care, but what exactly is it? Self-care can help you fuel yourself during a tough time, or feed your soul when life is feeling a little too hectic for comfort. These small gestures of kindness you show yourself (just like you would show to others) can help you feel more peaceful and joyous. This practice doesn’t have to be expensive, either. There are a lot of nice things you can do for yourself that don’t take much time, money or effort.
I love this self-care metaphor that Carolyn Hax gives to a reader experiencing major grief:
Imagine your grief as a literal journey through this very dark place. Uphill with a heavy pack; physically exhausting; emotionally uncertain. There are no shortcuts or escapes, it’s just you and you have to do it.
Now: Self-care is what sustains you on this trip. If you don’t sleep, if you eat poorly and are quick to berate yourself, then you will falter physically and be easily discouraged. But if you give yourself proper rest, good nutrition, emotional or spiritual relief (church, poetry, meditation, nature . . . ?), access to outside encouragement and a lot of breaks — not just physical ones, but also some emotional ones by choosing not to be tough on yourself when you think you’re falling short — then it’ll be no less grueling; you’ll just be better equipped to manage the burden.
That’s the reality of self-care. There is no magic phrase or precise solution to get to a better, stronger place emotionally. Your self-care plan will need to be individual to you and your exact emotional and spiritual needs. Try making a list of things you can do to sustain yourself as you experience a particularly trying or stressful time in life. Carolyn’s right– everything is easier and better when you sleep well, eat well, and exercise. Then sprinkle in other “treats” and activities like yoga, exercise classes, join a meditation group, join a book club, spend more time in nature, etc.
Below are 10 ideas for practicing self-care. I think one of the most important things to remember is to be present and mindful when you do these nice things for yourself. That practice will make these gestures more enjoyable.
- Allow yourself a night in — Cancel happy hour, pour some Kombucha in a wine glass, and take a long bath.
- Buy yourself flowers. Stop by the farmers market/Trader Joes/Whole Foods, and pick out a nice bunch.
- Wake up with the sunrise and drink your coffee or tea outside.
- Create an uplifting playlist on Spotify to listen to on your commute, whether you walk, drive or take public transportation.
- Go to the grocery store and splurge on the super pricey exotic fruit. It’s healthier than a brownie and so delicious. Passionfruit– yum!
- Make a craft you’ve pinned on Pinterest. Stop by Michaels or order some supplies on Amazon and get crafting!
- Crack yourself up. Watch a funny movie (or a few funny YouTube clips if you’re short on time) to encourage your body to release those feel-good endorphins.
- Sign up for a workout class you don’t normally take– try dancing or aerial yoga.
- Cook yourself your favorite meal like it’s your birthday.
- Get a 10-minute chair massage at a nail salon. A quick treat like this will make your week a bit less tense.
What do you do to practice self-care?
photo credit: flickr