Self-care: It’s more than kale smoothies, facials and getting your full eight hours in each night. While tending to your physical health is no doubt important, self-care is about taking care of yourself on a much deeper level. It’s about keeping up with your spiritual needs. It’s about keeping up with your social needs. It’s about ensuring that all of your needs are being met, or at the very least recognized. Luckily, there are some basic self-care rituals that can help you achieve these essential needs.
While this seems obvious to prioritize, so many of us fail to devote enough attention to self-care and therefore see our bodies take toll in many forms. The most common excuse comes from attempting to juggle the busy schedules we often face. Really, an overall lack of time thanks to the roadrunner form of living we’ve seemed to embrace. But self-care should always come first. This may mean learning to accept that some things will need to be put on hold so that you can properly care for yourself instead. Here are just a few reasons to do so:
- Self-care reduces stress
- Self-care prevents burnout
- Self-care keeps you focused
- Self-care boosts happiness
- Self-care gives you the ability to care for others (you cannot give what you don’t have, you cannot pour from an empty cup, etc.,)
The good news is that there are so many self-care rituals, including many that take minimal time and some that can even be achieved on-the-go. Whether it be journaling, meditating or dry brushing, it’s imperative to find what really rejuvenates you personally. Here are seven to consider adopting:
Recognizing simple pleasures
No matter how busy life may become, never forget to stop and smell the roses. Literally. Taking the time to appreciate small joys can help you gain more perspective and gratitude and help you to live more presently, all of which can improve mental clarity.
A fresh air reset
Get outside. It’s that straightforward. A bit of fresh air can always do some good; even if it’s only for a few fleeting moments. We spend so much of our days in stuffy offices and disconnected from reality, so it’s important to take a break (or several) from behind your desk to enjoy the beauty that surrounds us.
In this age of technology, we always seem to be plugged in. And we’re constantly distracted. The buzzing of our smart phones makes it almost impossible to shut off. Which is exactly what you should do. Shut off your ringer, close down your laptop and simply spend some time alone away from the screens. It doesn’t really matter what you do in that time, but reading, cooking or enjoying a cup of tea are all great ideas.
Meditating / stretching
Even just a little ‘om’ time each week can release a lot of emotional stress and physical tension. Meditation can also improve overall relaxation, not mention serve as an avenue for self-reflection and guidance. If the thought of sitting in complete still silence makes your skin crawl, instead lean on some simple stretching techniques to help decrease fatigue, anxiety and pain.
Getting a good sweat in
There’s nothing like a little exercise to make you feel reinvigorated. Yes, even if you feel like you might die while doing it. Try to hit the gym for a yoga class or get outside for a run as often as possible. If you’re short on time, turn to an app, dvd or the Internet for some guidance to a quick sweat sesh.
Physically nourishing yourself
Throughout our busy days, it can often be challenging to find the time to eat, let alone the time to eat well. Food prepping is a great way to avoid this and ensure that there’s always something quick and healthy accessible when hunger strikes. Hydration is also super crucial. Create a system of sorts to make sure that you stay watered throughout the day. If you need a bit of motivation, squeeze in some fresh fruit for added benefits and taste. Proper nourishment will help your body to stay in a more balanced state, ready to face whatever may come.
Gratitude can help to turn what we do have into enough, especially if it’s vocalized. Spend a few minutes each day reflecting on two to three things you’re appreciative of. Maybe that’s important objects, events and people in your life. Share your gratitude as well. Even something as small as an unexpected card or smile can go a long way.
As you begin to form a self-care practice you can expect a bit of a trial and error process. This is normal. Self-care is essential for us all, but looks different from person to person. Once you’ve identified what does work, make a point of turning those activities into a series of daily, weekly and monthly habits. Your health will thank you.
“Be there for others, but never leave yourself behind.”– Dodinsky