7 Steps to Real Self-Care
Over the past 6 months, through lots of stress and therapy, I have finally come to really understand the importance of self-care. I’m not talking bubble bath and painting your toes kind of self care. I am talking about really digging down deep, getting your figurative hands dirty, and figuring out not only what makes you truly happy (maybe it is a bubble bath and painting your toes for you) but also what your short and long term needs are to keep you mentally and physically healthy.
Focusing on yourself when you have spent the majority of your life focusing on others is sometimes unbearably uncomfortable but hey, you have to wade through the muck to get to the good stuff, right?
So without further ado, my short list of 7 Steps to Real Self-Care techniques that I am currently working on:
1) Scheduling my Self-Care Time
For me, one of the most difficult parts of taking care of myself is finding the time to do so. There are always dishes to be done, meals to be made, never ending piles of laundry and errands…. I often felt like how can I possibly fit another task in?
Simply put, you have to treat it like any other appointment. You realize the importance of check-ups for your children, oil changes for your vehicles, and you make sure to keep those appointments, right?
You matter too. Make an appointment with yourself and keep it. Start small if need be – 10 minutes twice a week. Go for the gold and give yourself an hour every day while the kids are napping or having quiet time. Whatever it is, just do it and do your best to do it consistently.
I have always loved writing so I knew that this would be a good fit for me. It doesn’t matter if it’s a once sentence entry or a five page brain dump. Just get it out. Let it out of your brain and onto that paper.
Experiment with various types of journaling and find what works for you. What makes you feel lighter? What makes you feel saner, more able to move successfully through what you’ve got going on? What leaves you feeling more centered, more grateful?
When you find it, try to incorporate it into your daily life. If it’s a struggle, start small. Start with every other day and just free write for 2 minutes. The next time go for 3 and so on.
If it becomes your jam, fantastic. If not, I still would say that making it even a small part of your self-care routine can be helpful.
Check out this link for some different types of writing for self-care.
Also, watch this video about Bullet Journaling! I absolutely love it and wish I would’ve found it years ago.
For me, there is nothing more relaxing than a great book. I can envelop myself in the wonderful sounds of silence, travel to faraway places, peer into the lives of total strangers and go on adventures that I could never dream of. All from the comfort of my pillow-top sleep number bed.
Whatever your genre of choice is, curl up with that book, a soft pillow, and a beautifully scented candle or essential oil diffusing in the background. Let go of your own worries and fall into another life and time.
Ugh. I have a love / hate relationship with this one. I cannot (yet) get my mind to fall quiet for more than one minute on my own. I know, I know…. It takes practice.
I will keep trying and that is what is important here: The effort of the intentional practice.
Now guided meditation – I can work that like there’s no tomorrow. I love a great soothing voice with ocean waves or falling rain behind it. I end my session feeling renewed, energized, and clear headed (only occasionally falling asleep). Two great apps that I regularly use are Calm and Pacifica.
Although the free version has a limited selection the stuff it does have is fantastic. You can choose calming music, meditation, and sleep modes with various relaxing sounds. You can also keep a record of your session times and frequency to monitor your practice.
Pacifica (my fav)
Pacifica is much more complex than Calm. It has a health and mood tracker, a Thought Record (think- short digital journal), a place for your daily and long term goals, Guided Paths (short classes that span over one week at a time), as well as great guided meditations and a community to engage with. I splurged on the full app which ended up costing about $39 for a one year subscription.
Most people have at least heard of Yoga so there isn’t a whole lot of explaining necessary here.
Yoga not only makes you physically stronger and more flexible but it also teaches you to be still with yourself. It teaches you to quiet your mind and move your energy into your body. This is huge if you are looking for stress/anxiety reduction.
Simply put, it’s amazing and you should absolutely try it if you are able (not medical advice :D).
6) Practicing Gratitude
Most nights, before bed I write down 3 things that I am grateful for or that went well that day. It’s a great way to end any type of day but especially a really difficult one.
Rereading my entries when I am down or particularly overwhelmed is an awesome way to remind myself what really matters. I matter. My family and friends matter. The constant noise and drama of the outside world, in the end, means nothing.
Mindfulness is a form of meditation where you focus your awareness on the present moment, while acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and sensations. This is supposed to be done without judgment, interpretation, or action.
Practicing Mindfulness can reduce stress/anxiety, lead to improved moods, and lessen negative thinking patterns.
I’m going to be honest – I really, really struggle with this one. The ‘cheesy factor’ for me personally is very strong here.
In some exercises I’ve been told to give myself a hug. To sit still and contemplate what it means to be me, to “Sink into your stress”. Um, say what now? What does that even mean, to sink into my stress? My logical, analytical brain gets the Willy’s with phrases like this.
I hope with time and practice I can come around to being more accepting of this as a tool.
Here are a few links I found that have some great information on practicing Mindfulness:
Do you feel like you are burning the candle at both ends? Have you ever heard of or used self-care techniques?
I’m very interested to hear where my readers are at with this concept. Please comment below!