If you can answer this question, then you are well on your way to working a conscious self-care practice into your life. Self-care comes in many different shapes and forms, but the purpose is always the same: to deepen the nourishment, support, and care you give yourself.
How to start?
Start small. Savour a cup of tea, read a good book, listen to your breath for 5 minutes each day, walk barefoot in soft grass, or soak in a hot bath. Choose something that gives you pleasure. Something that will nourish your mind, body and soul.
Here are a few of my personal favourites.
Our bodies are made for movement. Find time to move daily and to exercise whenever possible. Whether that’s a walk around the neighbourhood, a bike ride, a yoga or spin class, or simply setting a timer on your phone to remind you to get up from your chair every hour. Whatever feels good for you, make it a part of your daily routine.
Spend Time Outdoors
Time in nature is extremely restorative. Step away from your computer, leave your phone behind, and take a walk outside. Focus on the sounds you hear and colours you see. How does the fresh air feel in your lungs? How does the sun feel on your skin? Or the cold wind on your cheeks? Whatever the weather, take a moment to breath and live in the moment.
Make Sleep a Priority
Sleep is significant to our bodies’ ability to heal. While sleeping, we repair damaged tissues and organs, we metabolize hormones our body no longer needs, and our brain uses this time to organize our thoughts and experiences.
OM It Out
Meditation is a great way to tune out all life’s distractions and demands. Give this time to yourself. Find a dimly-lit, quiet space and get comfortable. Fill your lungs with as much air as possible and breathe out slowly. The goal is to calm and relax the mind. If you find your mind wandering, play a guided meditation.
Here are a few I’m currently loving:
When we focus on our breathing and take full breaths, we engage our parasympathetic nervous system. This is the system that puts us in a state of rest and relaxation and allows our bodies to heal and repair.
Adult colouring books are all the rage these days. Not only is it therapeutic, but it’s also a great tool to focus when experiencing stress or anxiety. When you focus your attention on a calming activity, your mind starts to relax. This can have tremendous effects on your mood, energy, and how well you sleep.
Make Time to Be Alone
Just as a sense of community is paramount for people, so is time alone. Time alone allows you to process your thoughts and experiences, and also gives you an opportunity to reflect.
Do Something You Love
If this is something that is hard to fit into your schedule, try weekly, or as often as you can. Some ideas include, taking a warm bath with Epson salts and essential oils, writing in your journal, or buying yourself some flowers. Whatever activity you choose to do, don’t feel guilty about taking the time to do it. Remember it’s feeding your soul and increasing your joy.
Nourish From the Inside Out
Often when we have a busy schedule, we neglect our own dietary needs. Instead of fully nourishing ourselves, we rely on packaged, microwavable or takeout foods, which lack nutrients and often have an abundance of substances that are detrimental to our health. Make healthy food a priority. Chances are you’ll feel great along with increased energy and clarity.
Affirmations are a great way to re-program and focus the mind to eliminate negative patterns of behaviour. On a daily basis, commit to yourself and repeat your affirmation out loud, in front of a mirror, once or twice a day. Our words and thoughts are composed of energy and therefore contain extremely potent power to alter our reality.
Here are some of my favourites:
- Today I am healthy and strong.
- Every day, I offer gratitude, trust, and faith for everything that happens in my life.
- Every decision I make is the right one for me.
- I forgive everyone in my past for all perceived wrongs. I release them with love.
- Abundance flows freely through me.
Gratitude is a fullness of heart that moves you from limitation and fear to expansion and love. Since ancient times, philosophers and sages from every spiritual tradition have taught that cultivating gratitude is key to experiencing deeper levels of happiness, fulfillment, and well-being.
To put into practice, end your day by answering these three questions:
- Who or what inspired me today?
- What brought me happiness today?
- What brought me comfort and deep peace today?
As you continue your self-care journey, remember to pause and ask yourself how your doing. Given the nature of our busy lives, it’s easy to forget. Listen to your body and tune in. You deserve to take care of yourself.