Self-Care does not have to be difficult, and it doesn’t have to cost much money. There are a lot of things that we can do everyday to promote health and wellness in our lives through self-care. Practicing healthy self-care is more important than we often think. Taking care of ourselves creates opportunity for us to grow and expand our productivity. Taking self-care breaks to increase work efficiency may seem counter intuitive, but, in reality, we need those moments to refuel and recharge our batteries. Starting small is the best way to introduce ourselves into the wonderful and amazing world of self-care. And, oh, yes, self-care can become addictive. You can thank me later.
Self-Care Strategy #1: Grab a latte
This is not just for coffee fanatics (like me). I have learned over the years that it is so important to know what makes you get out of bed. For me, that has always been the thought of eating an entire box of Lucky Charms. (sadly, unfortunate for my keto-self) I also love having a cup for coffee in the morning. Usually I will make my own coffee on the way out the door to work, but there are some mornings when I just need an extra jolt of self-care. Coffee, or a smoothie or muffin or some other morning treat, can be an inexpensive way to treat yourself. Some of us do this regularly but how many of us recognize it as an act of self-care? The most important lesson in self-care is noticing and labeling life’s little treasures that may already be in our path.
Self-Care Strategy #2: Take a long shower or bath
I recently had this horrible head cold. Oh, it was the worst. Well one of the many pinterested solutions that I came across was to take a hot shower. Okay. I take hot showers everyday, well, let’s be real -sometimes I am lazy on the weekends- but for some reason this shower was different. This shower was truly invigorating. Maybe it was because it helped with my congestion, but I think it was really because I am not used to relaxing in and reaping the benefits of a nice long shower. Most of us bathe as a means of hygiene and as a part of our daily routine. How often do we stop, even if for a second, and allow ourselves to actually enjoy the experience? Try it out: the next time you take a shower, spend the last 30 seconds being mindful of the self-care benefits that are being poured over you.
Self-Care Strategy #3: Do some simple stretches
You don’t have to take an expensive yoga class to reap the self-care benefits that you can get from stretching. For centuries, slow stretches and long lengthy poses have been a part of meditation practices around the world. Making the connection between our mind, body, and spirit can produce a sense of all around well being. Yoga classes and DVDs are popular ways that we can practice some of these stretches and poses to promote healthy self-care. However, you don’t have to spend a lot of time or money to do some of these things at home. Just 10 minutes of mindful stretching can help calm our mind and recharge our brain. These stretches can be as simple as standing up in a straight line, elevating ourselves to the tiptoes and reaching our fingers to the sky. Be sure to consult with your doctor if you have any medical concerns or injuries before starting any new stretching routines.
Self-Care Strategy #4: (my favorite) Be intentionally lazy
Doctor’s orders! Seriously! Being lazy can have ridiculously awesome benefits. We need to be lazy. Our bodies thrive off of laziness. We just need to stop calling it “lazy.” Being intentional about self-care means allowing yourself to rest without judgement. We need time in our day to relax without anything pressing to do. We need time to watch meaningless television or lounge around and talk with our friends and family. This is when we absorb and process everything from the day. We do this all of the time, but how many of us label it as intentional self-care? I know that after an evening of binge watching Gossip Girl (for the 6th time, by the way) I always feel bad about myself. I label myself as “lazy” or unproductive. i am learning to, instead, praise myself for allowing myself time to rest, relax, and enjoy stillness in my day. If we start to redefine “laziness” as “intentional self-care” we will be amazed at how much this will actually boost our overall productivity- while also boosting our mood. It’s a win-win
Self-Care Strategy #5: Leave work on time
Whether you have a job where you clock in and out, or work on a totally unique schedule, we have all been guilty of working longer than we should on some days. I will be the first to admit that writing this article is not going to make me shut off my office lights right at closing time every single day. However, making room for a few days where possible that you can close up shop and go home on time is well worth it. The key is in being, here comes that word again, intentional. If I catch myself feeling overworked and exhausted, I am starting to recognize that I may need to recharge. Some people would even go as far as to take a self-care day off work (I’ll admit- I am just not there yet) but at the very least there should be at least one day a week where you intentionally go home on time. The world will not fall apart, and somehow, everything always gets done. I believe it is because when we intentionally force ourselves to take a break, we come back in much stronger the next day and increase our productivity tenfold.
Self-Care Strategy #6- Take a power nap
This is another one that I am having trouble with dropping the guilt. Naps make me feel guilty. Much like being lazy, I usually feel like there is something better than I can do with my time. I also feel guilty
when I hear other people complain because they can’t take naps for this or that reason. But really, here is the deal, naps are great and everyone should take them. Short, planned naps with the intention of self-care shouldn’t bring about a sense of guilt. Remember, we are stronger when we are taking care of ourselves. Naps don’t have to be this huge grand 5 hour experience (Though if you can swing that, go for it) they can be 15 minutes here or there that you take to regroup. Sometimes I don’t even sleep when I “nap,” its just about getting a few minutes alone to allow ourselves to process the rest of the day.
Self-Care Strategy #7: Turn on some music
I used to listen to the music all of the time. I would have music playing in my car,. I would have music playing in my earbuds while walking across campus in college. Music as just a part of my life and I
didn’t realize during that time how much of a self-care practice it really was. Now, I will catch myself driving around silently in my car (apart from the occasional burst of road rage that I throw threw my lips onto the windshield). I will catch myself cleaning my apartment with no music on, or working on some daunting project when I could have some music in the background. My point is, whether you can relate to this or not, the things we do such as listening to music really do serve a self-care purpose in our lives. Sometimes I have to remind myself to stop and turn up the music just a little and it makes difficult things a little more tolerable.
Self-Care Strategy #8: Get to steppin’
Okay so if you haven’t wondered if I am a hypocrite yet, here is your chance. Yep, just another lazy blogger who is telling you that you can fix your life through exercise while I sit here eating chips in my pjs. (Actually, I have to brag, I have been running lately!)Yes, exercise builds endorphins and happy
people don’t shoot their husbands and blah blah blah, For real though, you don’t have to create this #crazycrossfit5kHighIntensitywhateverelseyouwanttocallit work out to get some of self-care benefits that come from simply being active. Taking a 15 minute walk during lunch, or parking your car a little further from the grocery store- these things add up and movement really does help the body give your mind that extra little jolt. Tracking steps with a pedometer device can be a fun way to gradually increase your movement. Try tracking your steps while also tracking your mood and let the data speak for itself.