I’m at home on a Friday afternoon when I should be at work. I’m at home because I’m sick. It’s likely just a bad cold (*knock on wood*), but I felt bad enough to leave the office before lunchtime.
I tend to be one of those busybody types. I’m always on the go–running errands, doing chores around the house, working on something.
While that’s great for my productivity, it’s terrible for my self-care. I keep myself so busy that I don’t take the time to listen to what my body needs. I ignore the repeated signals that my body needs to rest and recover.
Then I get sick. And I’m forced to slow down.
It’s days like today that allow me to refresh my focus on self-care. Let me ask you something.
Do you spend enough time taking care of yourself?
Self-care should be a daily practice, not something you forget about until you’re laid up on the couch feeling miserable. It doesn’t have to take much time, either. A simple check-in at different points throughout your day is enough to provide big payoff for minimal effort.
So let’s get to it. Here are seven simple ways to fit self-care into your daily routine.
If the idea of meditation is intimidating to you, let me reframe it in another way. Meditation doesn’t have to mean sitting on a cushion “being zen” or finding enlightenment.
The simple act of putting your attention on your breath is meditation. Focus on your inhale and exhale for a few breaths. Count to six as you inhale, pause for a moment, then count to six on the exhale.
You can also close your eyes and do a mental scan of your physical body. Where do you feel tension? Can you find the opposite feeling of relaxation somewhere else in your body?
Any simple meditation practice allows you to bring awareness into your daily routine. Being more aware means hearing the message when your body is telling you what it needs.
Try writing in a journal every day for a week. Write anything, but write enough to fill three pages. Think of it as a “brain dump” rather than structured writing.
It can be tedious at first, but you’ll be surprised at what you find yourself writing after you’ve made this practice a habit.
I used a morning writing ritual for a while, and I found I would write worries onto the paper that I wasn’t consciously aware of. Or I would write out ideas that I hadn’t fully formulated yet in my own mind.
This process is remarkably cleansing. You can use it as a way to start your day with fresh mental clarity. You can also use it to assess your state of mind and find sources of worry or stress that need some extra attention.
A gratitude journal another useful tool. Expressing gratitude through journaling is a way to focus on the positive things in your life.
It’s as easy as it sounds. At the end of each day, write down three things you’re grateful for. They can be personal wins, kind things others say or do, or attributes about yourself. Looking back on these entries later will serve as a reminder of the good around you and within you.
Get moving! Exercise releases endorphins, which interact with receptors in your brain to boost your mood. This effect has been known to reduce stress, prevent depression, and help you sleep.
Almost any type of movement will do–a brisk walk has the same mood-boosting effect as a strenuous workout.
Exercise has obvious physical benefits as well, which make it a great part of your self-care regimen.
4. Go Outside
Fresh air and sunshine are great for you. Being outside can increase your concentration, boost creativity, and help you feel more alert.
Time spent outside has a positive effect on your mood, too. Have you heard of seasonal affective disorder? Do you know how it’s treated? The most common treatment is phototherapy–bright light that mimics natural outdoor light.
Outdoor time is clearly beneficial. (Bonus points for exercising outside!)
5. Take a Bath (or Shower)
A bath with epsom salt and essential oils can soothe your body and mind. The salt and warm water help to relax achy muscles. A few drops of lavender or bergamot oil can have a calming effect. And there’s something peaceful about being in a bathtub.
Even if you don’t have the time in your schedule for a bath with “the works,” you can take an extra minute or two in the shower to find some relaxation.
Inhale some deep breaths of steamy air before turning the water off. Or let the hot water run over your neck and shoulders as you gently stretch them. We tend to hold a lot of tension in these areas so stretching with the added heat reduces the chance of straining a muscle.
6. Savor Something
When you savor something, you pay conscious attention to feelings of pleasure. By focusing your awareness in this way, you’re able to extend the good feelings you get from the action.
You can savor chocolate or another treat, but you can just as easily savor something that’s a routine part of your day.
Try savoring your morning cup of coffee or a hug from your significant other. Focus on the action of enjoyment and appreciate it in the moment.
Social media seems to have taken over our lives. Spend some time purposefully avoiding it to create more mindfulness in your day.
Read, listen to music, play a board game. The options are endless! Do something to interact with the people you’re with and your physical surroundings.
Taking a mental break from social media allows you to live in the present moment. And living mindfully brings you back to adding awareness to your daily routine.
Take Care of Yourself!
There are an endless number of ways to practice self-care in your daily life. You have to find what fits into your routine and satisfies your needs.
The best self-care regimen is the one you will stick to.
I know I’ll be focused on self-care in my daily routine in the upcoming weeks.
Try a few of these self-care ideas or come up with some of your own!
Post in the comments to share what works (and what doesn’t work) for you.
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