How well do you care for yourself? Do you only make time for yourself once you’ve looked after everyone else? If you have set an intention for 2015 to love yourself more or if you rarely make time for yourself then this is for you. Late last year I ran a “Seven Days of Self-Care” guide. I don’t feel ‘challenge’ is the appropriate word here when speaking of self-care. The feedback was positive and some of the changes and insights by those who participated was profound. Follow the guide below at your own pace. Notice which self-care tips resonate with you and which ones you struggle with. Try to focus on just one strategy per day. Remember, taking good care of YOU means the people in your life will receive the best of you, rather than what’s left of you.
Day 1: Breathe
Breathe through the nose. Notice the inhale, notice the exhale and connect with your breath. Breathe deeply into the belly. Notice how the nose warms the breath as it enters the body. Notice how your belly expands. Notice how your chest rises. Exhale slowly.
Three deep breaths can be enough to calm and de-stress your body and mind. Take a moment to connect to your breath. Focusing on the breath will bring you back to the present moment. If you are feeling stress levels rise, take a moment to breathe.
Day 2: Take a break
A real break. The kind of break without distractions or interruptions. Switch off your phone, turn off the TV, wait until your kids go to bed if you need to. This is not the time to be making mental ‘to do’ lists either!
Make yourself a cup of tea and sit down and enjoy it. Put your feet up, read a book or magazine or simply close your eyes. Slow down and savour it. Enjoy the stillness! Completely stopping for as little as ten minutes could make all the difference.
Day 3: Move your body
Exercise produces the feel good hormone serotonin, which has an uplifting effect on your entire body. It also increases energy and reduces anxiety and stress.
Moving your body outside in nature can also improve your mood. Pay attention to your surroundings and notice natures’ beauty. Breathe in the fresh air and feel recharged.
You may like to try a yoga, Pilates or Zumba class. Maybe a walk, run, bike ride or swim outdoors is more convenient for you. Or perhaps a game of tennis or soccer with your friends or kids is your type of exercise. Even turning up the stereo and dancing around the house counts! Enjoy whatever you do and have fun. If you can’t spare more than 15 minutes, don’t worry, do as much as you can.
Day 4: Be Positive
Think positive and positive things will happen. Positive thoughts boost your mood, spirit and can even generate more positivity and happiness in your life.
Let go of negative self-talk, make the choice to be positive. When you notice the negative chatter going in your head, replace it with something positive. Even when you don’t think you have it all, focus on what you have today.
One small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.
Day 5: Pamper Yourself
It’s time to relax and recharge. Show yourself some love and care. You deserve some you time!
You could try dry body brushing before a shower, a body scrub, facial, massage, pedicure, manicure or a relaxing bath. A DIY spa night could be the perfect way to pamper yourself and unwind.
Day 6: Play!
Most of us have jobs and roles that require responsibility. All work and no play is no way to live a life of depth. Life shouldn’t be so serious and busy all of the time.
Make it a priority to let go of the stresses in your life and make time for play. Not only will you enjoy it but you’ll also be modelling healthy work-life balance behaviours to those around you.
So dust off the cricket set, tennis rackets or board games and have fun just playing. Remember playgrounds aren’t just for kids! Play, laugh and relax!
Day 7: Connect with nature
Disconnect from the rest of the world and concentrate on the beauty of nature. Enjoy the simplicity of nature, it’s good for the spirit.
Nature will quiet your mind and you will feel connected with life all around you. You may emerge from your nature break feeling more alive, inspired or more relaxed than ever. Getting outside will nourish, de-stress and empower you!
Take off your shoes and sink your bare feet into the grass or sand, tend to some gardening, or go for a walk outdoors. Breathe deeply and enjoy the fresh air. You could even bring nature to you with a plant, freshly cut flowers or some shells collected from the beach.
How will you incorporate self-care into your days ahead? Which self-care tip resonated with you the most? Which one did you struggle with? I’d love to hear from you!