We heard a lot about those two words last year, didn’t we?
I wrote about them a lot, and I think part of the reason was because I was in an interesting space between talking about them and realizing the benefits of truly walking that talk.
If you think about it, how many conversations do you end where the person you’re speaking with says ‘take care’? For me it’s a lot. One day while driving home from work, I started thinking about this – probably too much. We tell each other to take care of ourselves, but we don’t actually do it. We eat foods that aren’t nourishing or health-building, deprive ourselves of rest, hang out with people that bring us down, and say really nasty, critical things to ourselves that you wouldn’t dream of ever saying to a good friend. That doesn’t sound very caring, does it?
Obviously the world isn’t all butterflies and rainbows and sometimes situations get the best of us – we engage in negative self-talk, judgment, criticism and comparison. But in the spirit of Valentine’s Day being tomorrow, I thought I’d share 15 acts of self love and self care to have fun with this week. You might even consider making them part of your day to day life, and if so, I’m all for it! I often find myself with a bit more on my plate than I feel I can handle, but have to say that since actually declaring self love and self care as a goal to work on, that overwhelming, stressed-out feeling happens far less frequently. Whether you’ve got a couple of hours or just a couple of minutes, I hope you’ll give some of these a try.
How to start
One more important thing to note: what self love and self care looks like for me might be very different to you. Try picking out a few ideas that resonate with you and add some of your own. When you’re ready for a little dose of self love, don’t treat it like a to-do list. Instead, I like to think of it like a spa menu with lots of lovely treatments to choose from. This isn’t meant to feel like a chore or obligation – it should be fun, and something you look forward to. Decide what will make you feel amazing in this very moment.
Write a personal manifesto – Let it take whatever format you like, but a manifesto is a statement of what you stand for, your boundaries, your beliefs and intentions… all that good stuff. You can make it nice and pretty with glittery pens if you like, post it on your fridge, or keep it private. If you’re having trouble getting started, try using sentence starters like “I love”, “I believe”, “I am committed to”, “I will”, “I can”, “I am”, “I love”, etc.
Need a little inspiration? You’ll probably recognize this one:
Take a long bath or shower and do all the pampering things. Exfoliating, masks, shampoo, conditioner, moisturizing, shaving, tweezing, pumicing, nail trimming – all that jazz. You can’t deny that you feel a million times better when you’re squeaky clean, right?
Connect with people. I know this is about self care, but interacting with others is so important when it comes to looking after ourselves. People need people – there’s lots of us on this earth for a reason! Connecting with each other triggers the release of neurotransmitters in our bodies including dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. We don’t need to talk about the specific function of each, but suffice it to say that this trio makes us feel friggin’ fantastic. Bonus points for giving hugs.
Grab a journal and write down everything you’re grateful for. I’ve been doing this every day since the beginning of the year and I am a big believer that it’s contributing to my daily happiness and state of mind. I write about everything from my supportive teammates at work to sweet potatoes with cinnamon, drizzled in almond butter (which are the bomb, by the way.)
Create a sanctuary-like space, then unwind in it. Aromatherapy, a cozy blanket, candles, a mug of tea, flowers, inspiring prints framed on the wall, plushy pillows, all the hygge things – I’m not suggesting that you need all of these to create a space you love, but rather, try paying attention to the little things that you find beautiful and relaxing, and incorporate them. (Alternatively, get rid of clutter and things you don’t love that suck your energy.) In your self-care time, you could read, meditate, journal, or even just sit and be quiet in your little sanctuary for a bit. If you’d asked me to do that a few years ago the silence and lack of action would have driven me crazy, but these days I often crave it.
Bring some greenery into your home. Not only are they pretty to look at, but you know that energized feeling you get when you’ve spent a lot of time outside breathing fresh air? Adding plants to your abode helps to purify the air in your home, while also boosting other aspects of physical and mental health.
Get a massage. Similar to the point about human connection, physical touch triggers the release of oxytocin, which in turn makes us feel happy. If you’ve been walking around all winter with your shoulders tensed up a little more than usual due to the cold (I know I have), why not go get that loosened up? You might be a little sore from your last workout, or maybe you’re carrying around tension that you’ve gotten so used to that you don’t realize it’s there any more. Use those employer benefits and get your body looked after!
Take a nap. Sometimes we just need sleep.
Move in a way that makes your body feel good. One thing it took me a really long time to learn was that I didn’t have to run every time I went to the gym. Nor did I have to spend a certain amount of time in a particular heart rate zone. I could simply show up, do what my body felt like it wanted to do that day, or perhaps not even go at all and spend the day outside on a long walk, hike or other mini-adventure. Try not to think about the muscles you’re growing, calories you’re burning, heart rate numbers or any of that stuff – do it purely because it makes you feel what it’s like to be inside your amazingly strong and resilient body.
Take a digital detox. It might be a couple of hours, a day, a weekend or even longer if your work schedule will allow for it. It could be no social media, no laptop, no phone… or no digital devices at all (which I’ve yet to try but am kind of intrigued!) I did a blogging detox and partial social media detox for part of the Christmas holidays, and at first I felt kinda naked without my phone within arm’s reach. After a little while though, it felt extremely liberating and I’m planning to make 1-day digital detoxes a regular thing.
Got 15 mins or less? Try these 5 quickies:
Meditate. You guys know I’m a huge advocate for meditation, and the beauty of it is that you can do it almost anywhere.
Enjoy a piece of dark chocolate as mindfully as you can… assuming you enjoy dark chocolate, that is. If not, enjoy another treat you love and try to engage as many of your 5 senses as possible.
Do a quick head-to-toe stretch or a few yoga poses. Notice where you’re tense and try to loosen out in those areas.
Sing/dance to one of your favourite songs. Lip syncing with a hair brush in hand is optional… and highly recommended.
Make an affirmation or quote into a phone wallpaper. Upload a photo from your phone to an app like Word Swag (or use one of the ones they provide) and use the super easy editor to overlay a personal mantra or affirmation that means something to you. Save it, set it as your wallpaper, and you’ll get an instant self love top-up every time you check your phone.
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So tell me… what are some of your favourite ways to look after yourself? When do you feel most relaxed and at ease?