When life gets really busy, it’s easy to forget all the simple tips and ideas that help you to take care of yourself. But practicing self-care is crucial to one’s holistic health and can have great benefits for your mental, emotional and physical health.
Clinical psychologist Agnes Wainman defines self-care as “something that refuels us, rather than takes from us.” Self-care practices should give us energy and calm. Fill our cup. Refresh and rejuvenate us. Bring us joy and pleasure.
Self-care can also take many forms, as Alice Boyes, Ph.D., author of The Anxiety Toolkit, explains. It can mean engaging in physical activities (like exercising, getting enough sleep, eating healthy food choices), pleasurable activities (baths, manicures, binge-watching on Netflix), or even simply responding in more positive ways to stressful situations. In other words, it can be anything that is good and necessary for your mental, emotional and physical health, especially at times when you feel burned out with work or life in general.
If you’re not sure where to start, try out these few simple (and quick!) activities that can get you started with self-care:
Take Deep Breaths
Start with the simplest of the self-care techniques. Breath sustains life, and it also serves as our body’s barometer, indicating our internal "pressure." A few times a day, focus on slowing your breath and taking full, deep inhalations and exhalations. This technique also works in meetings when you're just sitting and listening.
You can do this anywhere: in line at the grocery store, waiting for the doctor to come into the examination room or while your kids are putting on their shoes as you head out the door in the morning. By focusing on this intentional breathing during tough times, you practice adapting to life's daily stresses.
Practice a Few Yoga Poses
Adding a few yoga poses into your day can help you relax and unwind. You could choose any of your favorite poses. You don't even need to unroll a mat or change your clothes. Go into your office and close the door, or head to a playground or park. You can even do them with the kids on the living room floor. Hold each pose as long as you'd like, for at least five breaths, but hopefully 10 or more.
Take a Beverage Break
Instead of grabbing and chugging your beverages, pause and savour them. You may find you want less and you may also truly enjoy the experience more. Your coffee or tea time can be an act of mindfulness, a time to sit, reflect and check in with yourself. And if you're not looking for a boost from caffeine, consider herbal tea!
Diffuse Essential Oils
Diffusing essential oils in the car or at home can help create a pleasant and relaxing mood. Opt for Lemon's zingy, uplifting scent or Lavender when you want to relax tensed nerves. Eucalyptus and Peppermint oils are invigorating; Rosemary is uplifting, too. You can combine diffusing oils with deep breathing techniques, too. These oils may also help support your respiratory pathways, which are especially beneficial during the cooler months.
Drink LOTS of Water
During cooler months, it's easy to forget to drink water, but maintaining healthy fluid intake matters year-round. You may sweat more in summer, but heating systems are quite drying to the body, so we need to stay hydrated to keep our mucous membranes healthy and moisturised.
When our skin dries out, we tend to blame wind and cold, but it's lack of hydration that is the culprit. Lotions and salves work to seal in the remaining moisture, but it's drinking water that will rehydrate the skin. Especially in winter, it's best to avoid ice cold drinks, which will chill us from the inside out.
Opt for warm or room-temperature water. Herbal teas work, too. And don't forget about electrolytes, which help maintain fluid balance and muscle function. Staying hydrated also helps you stay more focused and productive.
Remember that self-care should feel expansive, not restrictive. It isn’t just another task to put on our already too-long to-do list. Rather, it’s something we must do that is deeply beneficial for us, like taking a deep breath.
Self-care is different for every person and can even vary from day to day. An act of self-care for one person could actually be stressful for someone else, such as visiting one’s family. What matters is that you are able to find a balance of activities that work for you.
Try them out and let us know which works for you! Head over to our Facebook and Instagram page and share.
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