How many days in a row (or worse, weeks to months) do you let yourself feel like crap before you decide it’s time to do something about it?
Cheers to anyone who has enough mindfulness, time, and self-control to practice a regular self-care routine without tumbling backwards quite frequently. I am not one of those unicorn, woodland fairy, in touch with the Earth people.
Did that sound bitter? I could be a bit on the salty side, because self-care does not come to me naturally. Most humans in this universe have internal factors, such as anxiety or depression, that takeover the view in front of them before they recognize self-care as a solution to the problem.
Self-care is one of the most vital practices we can perform for our mind, body, and soul.
“In health care, self-care is any necessary human regulatory function which is under individual control, deliberate and self-initiated,” Google tells us.
See that word, “necessary”? Checking your mood, stressors, and overall feeling in general on a daily basis changes your viewpoint of the world around you. But, it’s way easier to tuck away self-care behind work, checking our online profiles, hanging with friends, more work, television, yadda yadda yadda.
Self-care is often mistaken for finding brief satisfactions due to consumerism. I adore pampering myself as much as the next diva, but that’s not the heart of self-care.
Bubble baths & treating yourself is lovely, but that’s only a possible action of self-care. The true measure of self-care is knowing you need a break in your hustle before you burnout and being mindful or self-aware enough to stop and breathe. That could look like a long bubble bath to soothe your spirit and gather thoughts. But, it can also look like mediation or yoga or getting to sleep early instead of finishing a project that can wait until tomorrow.
Self-care looks different on every individual. You have to find your self-care practices that work for your lifestyle, internal struggles, and external challenges. Try on the self-care shoe until it fits and transports you to your happy place.
Get Moving – Take a walk. Ride a bike. Practice Yoga. I’m not talking exercise necessarily, here. You need to simply release endorphins and change the chemicals in your body by moving. I find solace in mechanically going through the motions on an elliptical and listening to the My Favorite Murder podcast to escape the day.
Remove Toxins – This can often be the hardest solution that takes the most effort or self-control. Whether in the form of consumption or the environment around you, toxic substances and people can affect your inner and outer world to the highest degree. You might change up your diet to include less sugar (which causes inflammation in the brain and therefore increases depression symptoms) or go as far as to cut alcohol or a specific person out of your life. I’m working on drinking less, if at all, myself. I never feel good after a tipsy evening and usually have said something stupid over the course of drinking every time. (Foot, meet mouth.)
Entertain Yourself Like a Victorian Lady – Others might title this, “Turn off the Screens”. Your brain will feel refreshed, less tired, more focused, and more clear if you can pull yourself away from the habit of surfing the internet, scrolling on your phone, or watching TV to chill out at the end of the day. Instead, choose a different hobby that the average human used to enjoy thoroughly before the modern age. Read, play an instrument, embroider, paint, sing, build, cook or simply listen to music staring at the ceiling to bring your brain back to a resting place. Focus your attention on something that fuels your mind, not drains it. A new book read a month is my goal!
Stop and Listen to Your Heart – And, also your mind. Boredom is good for your brain. It helps us sort through all of our thoughts. Soak up the boredom of silent spaces through meditation, taking a bubble bath, zoning out in bed, or heck even starting out a window. Let your mind wander and figure out what’s hurting your mind and soul. Carving out time for my ears to hear silence takes away stressors, calms me, and helps my brain turn off at night when I crawl under the covers to sleep and not to think.
Find Outlets and Motivators – Once in a while, it’s an accomplishment to get through the day. When it feels like one of those days, have go-to outlets or resources to help bring your mind back to happy, or at least be able to wade through the ick surrounding you. Listen to a playlist you’ve created, repeat a soothing mantra to yourself, or run through breathing exercises. I tune into the podcast Self Service when I need a calm (and Australian) voice to ease me through the day and explain why I might be experiencing these less than nice feelings.
Set Your #1 Goal – Your top priority in life should be making your home a happy, positive, glowing place. Whether it’s literally your physical home or your core home aka your body, you must build an aura around it that keeps it a happy place. Then, you can create a hierarchy of work/life goals after your #1, not before. I try to set intentions throughout the day and check points (like lunch!) to ensure I’m taking care of myself all day long. A happy heart is a productive one.
Now, get out there and take care of yourself!