Self-care is one of the most vital things we can do for ourselves in life. So many people are still walking around exhausted. They’re not living in the here and now, they’re plagued with mind fog and wondering when they’ll find the time to wash their hair, let alone sit down with a book or get a pedicure.
We all know it’s important to incorporate more self-care into our lives. We need to reboot our batteries and fill up our own cups before we can fill anyone else’s — I’m pretty sure everyone has heard this before!
So why is it that this one super important tool in our toolbox is always the first thing to go when we get busy? I know I often self-sabotage; instead of meditation or journaling, I think “I need to take the dog for a walk, get dinner ready, workout with my friend, make lunches” — the list goes on! I’m constantly thinking about pleasing everyone else around me and putting myself last.
It’s time to take a step back and figure out what will make YOU happy, not everyone else.
The very simple act of breathing when you’re feeling stressed or anxious — three deep belly breaths — can calm down your nervous system and switch your body from the fight or flight response to rest and digest. Then, instead of biting off your partner’s head after a long day at work, we can greet them from a loving place.
Here’s 8 simple self care ideas that can easily fit into our busy lives:
1. Create a bedtime routine — Good quality sleep is crucial to your overall health, not just for boosting mood and reducing those big circles under the eyes. Adequate sleep (7–8 hours every night) improves memory and curbs inflammation — which is linked to diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis and premature aging. Try turning off the TV, laptops and other devices — these all emit blue light, which suppresses the production of melatonin in the body (a hormone that tells your body to sleep) — at least half an hour before bedtime and light candles instead of leaving LED lights on.
2. Practice mindfulness — Find somewhere peaceful to sit quietly for 10 minutes with your eyes closed and concentrate on your breathing in and out through your nose. If you get distracted by thoughts, sounds or sensations, just bring your attention back to your breath — notice how the breath is cooler as it enters your body and warmer as it leaves. If you do this every day for ten days, you’ll notice a significant change in your life. I love ‘Insight Timer’ for guided meditations!
3. Establish a gratitude practice — Each morning when you wake up, list three things you’re grateful for. Think — your nice comfy bed, a safe roof over your head, your gorgeous, fun loving puppy. This simple act is extremely powerful, especially if you can do it every day. It’s really easy at the beginning, and then it gets a little more challenging as you’ve gone through the easy stuff. But it’s wonderful to see that everything in life truly is a miracle and we have so much to be grateful for.
4. Take up a yoga class — Even just once a week at a class, or try it by yourself at home — there are a few good apps you can try — I’ve been using ‘Simply Yoga’ — where you can make up your own practice. Even a few sun salutations is a great way to start the day. Yoga has so many benefits, including; increased flexibility, increased muscle strength and tone, improved respiration, energy and vitality. It also helps maintain a balanced metabolism, great for cardio and circulatory health and prevents injury.
5. Be selfish — Choose one thing you can do today that makes you happy, without thinking of anyone else. Next time someone asks you to do something, think about whether it’s something you will enjoy. Will it light you up? If YES, awesome, go do it, but if NO, lovingly say no thank you. Obviously, I’m not saying you should do this in every instance, but sometimes it’s a necessity as too often we push our wants and needs to the side to please everyone else!
6. Pet cuddles — Science has proven that petting an animal lowers cortisol levels, which contribute to stress. Prolonged physical affection, for at least fifteen minutes, increases levels of oxytocin, the neurotransmitter that helps the body cope with stress. If you don’t have your own pet, go out and find one — best to ask their owner first! :-)
7. Make daily positive changes — Making small positive changes in your diet or lifestyle each week is a gentle way to gradually change your habits. It could be finding a new vegetable that you’ve never cooked with before, drinking an extra glass of water each day or experimenting with a new recipe. No matter how small the change, your body will thank you — it’s so important to feed our body with nourishing whole foods so we can heal it from the inside out.
8. Choose positivity — Hang out with positive like minded people that lift you up. Spend less time with those people who’s pessimism and negativity drain your energy. Edit your social media feeds and take out any negative people — you can simply unfollow them, you don’t have to unfriend them. Then, ask three of your closest friends to tell you what they love about you, to remind yourself how true friends view you.
Self-care doesn’t have to be time-consuming, taking tiny steps to incorporate it into your daily life is all it takes. In no time brain fog will clear, more nurturing activities will become habits, and you will reap the benefits of a healthier, happier you.
Written by Jade O'Brien
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