You take care of yourself, right? I mean, we’re all grown ups. We feed ourselves. We go to sleep at (hopefully) reasonable hours. We go to work so we can afford to live. We pay all those pesky bills. Wait—those are responsibilities. What about self-care?
Self-care goes above and beyond responsibility. It means loving yourself and treating yourself like royalty. Selfish, you say? Absolutely not. You can’t take care of anyone else in an effective way unless you are mentally, physically and spiritually nourished yourself. It’s the whole “place-the-oxygen-mask-over-your-own-face-before-assisting-others” concept. Hold off your groan.
I understand how difficult it is to prioritize self-care. It can seem like a big waste of precious time—who has time for a gentle, technology-free walk these days? But, turning your full attention towards yourself on a regular basis will make you happier, more productive, less stressed and more helpful to others in the long run. To embark on your self-care practice, try incorporating these simple ideas into your weekly schedule, and be sure to shower yourself with the love and affection you usually reserve for those closest to you:
Ugh, I know. Everyone is always recommending mediation as a way to improve yourself. But, guess what! It works! We live in a go-go culture. Anytime you have a chance to quiet your mind or focus alone on a positive mantra, do it. Meditation is wholly about the self and allows you to deepen your understanding of who you truly are. If you can only practice one self-care ritual, this is it.
Homecook healthy meals
It is easy to get take-out or thaw out some frozen pizzas. But, cooking yourself a nourishing meal loaded with fresh veggies once or twice a week is important. If you fill your belly with goodness, you are showing yourself that you are worth it. If you feed it processed junk, that kind of sends the message that you are only worthy of junk. Fuel your body with homemade love a few times a week.
Move your body
This doesn’t have to be an intense and sudden dedication to the Crossfit lifestyle. It can be as simple as walking, some weekly yoga, gardening or taking a gentle bike ride into town. Human bodies are made for motion. Think of all the hundreds of incredible muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints we have that facilitate all sorts of nuanced movements. Appreciate them by working out the creaks and allowing them to do their job. (That being said, show them appreciation with a massage once in a while, too!).
Pack your lunch
When you don’t pack a healthy lunch and/or snacks during the week, two things can occur. A) you get really hungry and feel miserable until you frantically pull into McDonald’s and gorge yourself. Or B) you realize you have nothing to eat so you go spend $20 on a salad, a juice and a latte at that kinda-healthy cafe around the corner. There is no need to feel miserable or waste your money. Take the time to prepare for what you’ll need to make it through the day as easily as possible. Some carrots, hummus, a bit of protein, yogurt or even an old-school PB&J will do. Just be prepared to give your body what it needs and deserves.
Take a bath
Bath culture seems to be female-dominated, but men take baths, too. In fact, there may be nothing more glorious than a steamy epsom salt bath. Not only does it boost magnesium levels that get depleted by stress, but it is incredibly relaxing, both on a physical level and a mental one. Be like a Japanese macaque and set aside 45 minutes once or twice a week to sit in hot water and read, listen to music or do absolutely nothing. Think of that peaceful time as an investment in yourself, not a waste of a precious hour.
Read a book for enjoyment
There are two reasons for reading: for enlightenment or for entertainment. It can be tempting to only read for enlightenment: to learn a new skill, to improve yourself, to understand politics/the environment/the economics of modern day farmers markets. In that light, reading for entertainment can seem like a real waste when there is so much to learn. But, if you enjoy it, is it really a waste of time? Heck, no! Self-care is all about indulging in what you love to do. Plus, reading for entertainment does have its bonuses, like reinvigorating your creativity and imagination. There is no need to sneer at a book because it doesn’t have some sort of arbitrary adult value. Find your Harry Potter and cozy up, devouring it.
Take a long walk alone
We have endless toys to distract us from ourselves when we are finally alone. In fact, can you even remember the last time you were alone for an extended period of time without any sort of technological interaction? Technology is a tempting siren. To find solace, plan an early morning or evening walk, around the block, through the woods, anywhere. If you must bring your phone, power it down. Feel how liberating it is to just be with me, myself and I for a change!
Feed your creative inner child
We all have a child that lives within us, but a lot of these children are starving. In a world of adult responsibility, our inner children crave art, creativity and imagination. Feed your inner child once in a while, whether it’s with a Spiderman action figure at the dollar store, a pack of gold foil stickers (you know, the ones coveted by children everywhere), a trip to the science museum, or a date with yourself, some paper and some paint (brushes optional). Revel in the whimsy of life and allow yourself to take things a little less seriously. We have fallen into the belief that alcohol is the only way to have fun as an adult. Reengage with your inner child and prove otherwise. In order to practice self-care, you have to care for your whole self, not just boring, adult you.
The majority of us put self-care on the sidelines, but it is one of the easiest and most effective techniques to improve your health and happiness. What are your favorite self-care rituals? Share with the community below!