The past two weeks, we've indirectly talked about self-care. What exactly is self-care, you ask? Self-care is anything you choose to do for yourself that makes you feel happier and healthier. I talk about this a lot with parents, because above everything else, the best parents are happy, healthy people.
Sometimes we struggle with how to best nurture ourselves, or it becomes something "on the back burner," our last priority as we juggle kids, career, romantic relationship, friends, etc. In my professional opinion, this is a recipe for disaster. Please take care of yourself! (I can't emphasize this enough.)
Curious about where to get started? Here's a handy-dandy list. Pick out some ideas and get self-carin'!
Run a hot bath. Turn off your phone. Play soft music. Add Epsom Salts, bubbles or essential oils. Enjoy.
Wrap yourself tightly in a soft blanket or rest under a heavy quilt (or a weighted blanket, if you have one!).
Drink hot herbal tea.
Take a leisurely walk in nature. Close your eyes occasionally and notice the rustling of leaves or call of birds. Notice the soil or pavement under your feet. Notice the transfer of weight between one foot and the other. Notice as much as you can.
Light a candle and watch the flame dance for several minutes before blowing it out and heading to bed.
Pet your dog or cat. Look into their eyes for several minutes.
Practice yoga, meditation, tai-chi, diaphragmatic breathing, or acupressure.
Attend a dance class. Consider Nia, which stresses the body-mind-spirit connection and focuses on experiencing pleasure in your body (vs. the typical focus on weight loss, muscle sculpting, or choreography).
Try dry skin brushing. Using a dry loofah or brush, scrub down your body from your heart outwards using long, light strokes for several minutes or until your skin is flushed. Follow with a warm shower and body lotion.
Do sit-ups, jumping jacks, or run up and down stairs. Stretch.
Jump on a trampoline while listening to your favorite fast-paced rock or pop music.
Drink very cold water or something delightfully caffeinated.
Try a contrast shower. Stand under the coldest water you can stand, for about 2-3 minutes. Now switch it to warm water for 2-3 minutes. Repeat.
Imagine what you would do with your life if money and time were no issue. Make those things into goals!
Volunteer your time. Donate money, canned goods, toys, warm winter coats or blankets to charity.
Write a thank-you note to someone who changed your life in a small or large way.
Write down 10 places, people, activities, or memories that inspire and excite you.
Make something for a loved one. Knit, bake, draw, make a mix CD. Remember it's about the effort, not the final product.
Hike to the top of a mountain. Breathe in the fresh wild air.
Watch an encouraging documentary or read a touching newspaper article.
Give yourself a budget between $0-5. Go antiquing, thrifting, or just window shopping. Take time to pick up each item, feel different weights, textures, and fabrics. Consider the lives these items once lived.
Visit an animal shelter. In Asheville, NC, Brother Wolf Animal Rescue even has a special "big cats room" where you can cuddle and play with the adult cats.
Frequent a natural products store such as Whole Foods. Go to the body products aisle. Smell the different lotions. Put the most delicious smelling Tester lotion on your hands.
Doodle and draw. If you're feeling nervous about where to start, print out some free coloring pages off the internet or pick up an inexpensive coloring book. Remember it's about the relaxing and fun process, not the end product.
Get a massage, a manicure, a pedicure, or a facial treatment.
Visit a nearby hot spring for a special soak.
Take yourself on your dream date. Dinner and dancing? Art museum? Long walk on the beach? Your call!
Buy yourself something that makes you smile all over.
Practice affirmations. Write down positive self-statements on notecards and leave them places you will see: your bathroom mirror or the fridge. Start with, "You are lovable just as you are."
Do a mental review of your day. Pull out 5 moments where you were successful. Give yourself the praise you deserve!
Write a pros and cons list when making a tough decision.
Write a letter to someone you never plan to send. Say exactly what you wish you could. Hold nothing back!
Write down any negative thoughts you are having about yourself. Ask yourself: Is this true? Is this helpful? If the answer to either question is No, reframe that negative thought. Watch for thoughts that start with Always, Never, Should, and any "mean words" like Stupid.
Think about a tough situation you are in currently. If your best friend was in the same situation, what would you tell her? Take your own advice. Remember to be your own best friend.
Ask for a hug. Ask for 2 hugs. Ask for 10 hugs.
Call a trusted loved one: share about your day, cry, ask for a compliment, some encouragement, a kick in the butt, or anything else you need. It's okay to ask for exactly what you need!
Join a choir, dance troupe, committee, book club or other social group organized around one of your interests.
Set your phone alarm for 3-5 minutes. Close your door or go to the restroom. Practice diaphragmatic or "belly" breathing, focusing only on your in- and out-breaths until the alarm sounds. When your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your breath and the gentle rise and fall of your chest.
Do a quick body scan, head to toe. Release one tense muscle. If it feels good, release one more tense muscle. And so on.
Count backwards from 99.
Tell others, "I need to sleep on it," "Give me a minute to think about this," or "I need a quick break to recharge." Don't allow yourself to feel hurried.
Just say No to unrealistic demands and expectations today. Say No to things you don't want to do. It's okay. Really.