I’ve learned quite a bit about self-care over the past couple of years and I really wish I had taken the time to learn about this practice sooner. Many of us can relate to being overworked and underpaid, always tired, busy, and stressed out about money. I lived in that state for years. Add on top of that my father’s sudden death at a young age and my decision to go back to school, and I was the very definition of a stress-ball. I knew this level of stress was unsustainable, especially when I developed a stomach condition as a result, so I began to research self care. Here is what I learned the hard way:

1. Don’t Let It Build Up

This is a ongoing process, not something that you can do once or twice a year for an easy fix. I recommend doing AT LEAST one act of self care every day. You will probably find, however, that the enjoyment these practices bring and the benefits they provide will pull you towards doing several throughout the day.

2. Make It Personal

I will list some self care ideas below but I encourage you to try out many ideas to find the activity that suits you. For some people, socialization and activity are energizing, for some they are incredibly draining. I find a dark, quiet room can work wonders on my mood and well-being. Some would find that simply maddening. Climate and the state of your health can effect what may be effective or even possible. Don’t be afraid to experiment, modify, and really make it your own.

3. Be Kind To Yourself

This is perhaps the key idea behind self care. Imagine how you would speak to a loved one or a beloved pet.  How would you treat them? Would you be considerate of their feelings and sensitive to their preferences? Now try to apply the same patterns of thought and action to yourself. Practice saying encouraging things to yourself throughout the day. Treat yourself when you’ve accomplished a goal. You will be amazed at how a subtle change in your inner dialogue can create big changes in how you see yourself and the world around you.

Here are some ideas on how to get started.

  • Yoga – I love this because it combines mindfulness with physical activity, both of which are crucial to reducing stress and reprogramming self-talk.
  • Walks – This one combines physical activity with being in nature. Gardening is also a great activity that combines both of these things.
  • Indulging Your Senses – Turn smelling your favorite perfume or eating your favorite dessert into a mindfulness exercise. Savor every moment.
  • Body Scan – This can be particularly effective in moments of high stress. Focus on your toes. Imagine breathing into your toes. Then, focus on the top of your foot. Imagine breathing into the top of your foot. Continue this process until you have covered your entire body. (Or have fallen asleep as I sometimes do.)
  • Scratch Something Off Your To-Do List – This one is great for me because I am a chronic procrastinator and a chronic worrier, so this gives me one less thing to worry about procrastinating on. Some of you Type A personalities might do better with a nap.
  • Meditation – This has been hugely helpful to me and there are tons of different types of meditation to choose from. I recommend browsing the free meditations on Youtube until you find something that resonates with you.
  • De-clutter – Stress from clutter is more of a problem than you realize until its gone, then you suddenly realize how much … better everything is. Its nice.

I hope this gave you some ideas on how to get started with self care. Don’t wait until you are already in crisis mode, start taking better care of yourself today. See you all on Wednesday when we’ll be celebrating National Simplicity Day by talking about minimalism.

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