You’re overwhelmed by life.
Emotions are rising and you feel anxious.
Thoughts of the past and the future are constant.
Your energy is lagging.
Life feels like it’s piling on.
Dread sinks in and your heart begins to race.
You decide to miss exercising and you put your pajamas on instead of going to coffee with your friends.
The weight of your stress is caving in and you drop to the bottom of your own list.
That only adds to your stress and makes everything else even worse. You ignore the rumbling in your tummy (hunger), the tension in your torso builds (thanks, stress), and the sky grows dark. Ok, perhaps that’s a bit dramatic, but you get the point.
Put Your Oxygen Mask On First
‘Self-care’ has become a buzzword in recent years. Despite what some might think, self-care is not indulgent and unnecessary. In fact, it’s quite the contrary.
Self-care is imperative. It soothes your mind, body, and soul.
Just as you take care of your hygiene on a daily basis (yes, I’m assuming that’s true), taking care of your overall well-being is equally as important.
After all, we’re instructed to put our oxygen masks on first in the event of an emergency on the airplane. Therefore, liken self-care to that oxygen mask and take care of yourself so you can be available to be there for others.
Neglecting to take care of yourself during times of stress and busyness only breaks you down further as mentioned above. Setting aside time for yourself is not the reward after you’ve completed the 5,127 items on your list for the day. You’ll likely be exhausted and irritable and slink into bed telling yourself there’s always tomorrow.
Tomorrows add up. With enough ‘tomorrows’ in which you’ve neglected yourself, or avoided or ignored those things that make you feel good inside and out, the more depleted you will become.
Instead, if you tend to yourself throughout your day, the 5,127 things on your to-do list will become more manageable. Intentionally choosing to go out to lunch with a friend, or actually stopping to smell the roses will lead you to greater productivity.
So What is Self-Care?
Simply put, self care is anything that makes you feel better, recharged, rejuvenated, or renewed, all of which enhance your life. Self care is highly personal. What soothes you may not soothe your friend.
Some of us know exactly what helps us to feel better and we already know the ways in which we actively take care of ourselves. Some of us might be unsure of what brings about a sense of peace and greater well-being. No matter where you stand on the self-care spectrum, let’s explore self-care a bit further.
Where to Begin
Your well-being matters.
There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to practice self care. There’s just the ‘what-works-best-for-you’ way. What you choose to do needs to be enjoyable, otherwise it’s not serving it’s purpose and will lose its value.
Self-care practices are meant to be life giving, not life draining, or induce guilt or shame.
Rather, the purpose of self-care is to help you unwind, slow down, draw inward, and regain your energy for life. Aim to become clear about what works best for you, and begin to build self care into your daily life (or create space for more).
If you already have a list of self-care go-tos begin by writing down what you already incorporate into your life.
If this is new for you (that is okay!!), write down what you might like to try first. Even one idea is great.
Note: It is possible to include small amounts of self-care into your daily routine. Period.
Take a look at your schedule. It may seem hard to imagine where you could fit yourself in, but there is time if you want there to be time. There really is no such thing as ‘too busy’. Your may feel overextended, but, at a minimum aim to find 2 minutes somewhere in your day to devote to yourself.
Schedule your daily self care into your calendar. Feel free to set an alert reminder as well. These will help you purposefully carve out time for your self-care and hold you accountable to yourself.
Here are some suggestions of ways to nurture your mind (Part 1 of 3).
(Self-care for your body and soul will be found in Part 2 and Part 3 of this series.)
Self Care for Your MIND
With 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts flying through our heads in a day, it is so soothing to find a moment of inner peace, quiet, and calm.
Find an opportunity to incorporate a moment in your day to breathe. Your stress may not feel much different at first, but it’s a minute you weren’t giving yourself before. Celebrate that minute as it will likely lead to much more!
As an idea, set your timer on your phone for a minute. During that minute, as you inhale and exhale, repeat ‘inhale’ and ‘exhale’ on each in breath and each out breath. The minute may well fly by and encourage you to breathe more often, which also supports your body and soul making breathing a 3-in-1 bonus!
Be in tune and take care of your mental and emotional health.
For example, if you find yourself experiencing frustration, be aware of that emotion and make the conscious choice to step back and take a moment for yourself (i.e. breathe, walk outside, talk about your feelings, etc.). This helps you move through the emotion and regain control all while working toward feeling better and taking life in stride.
When it looks like 748 people live in my house I can either spiral into overwhelm and grouchiness, or I can gain composure and make a plan to tackle the disaster zones. I’ll be honest- when I take my annoyance, frustration, and bad-itude (bad attitude) along with me in my straightening, the result is a prolonged and unpleasant straightening experience for myself and others.
Conversely, when I postpone straightening until I’ve exercised, taken deep breaths, or practiced a mindfulness meditation, my experience is as pleasurable as it can be.
As a start to your self-care practice, I encourage you to spend some time each day just breathing. Our breath gives us life and helps to bring us into the present moment. (You can read more about breathing in an old post.)
In addition to breathing, be aware of your thoughts and your emotions and honor what comes up. Allow yourself to experience and process your emotions as they arise. This will help to reduce the intensity of the emotion. Once the thought and/or emotion has passed, take time to step back,breathe, and quiet and calm your mind. Enjoy the relief that comes with caring for yourself.
Stay tuned for Part 2 and 3 of this 30 Self-Care Strategies to Relieve Anxiety Series (I promise there will be 30 suggestions in the end :) )!