10 Simple Ways to Practice Self-Care
As a culture we are quite literally burning out. I think many folks can often feel like they are too busy to take care of themselves. But without time for our self-care, stress can take over and we are inundated with exhaustion and we find ourselves a mere shell of who we could be.
Stress is often the leading cause of most health conditions and diseases we face. Being overworked and burning the candle at both ends, this sends our body into an innate state of stress response, releasing an excess of cortisol into our bloodstream to manage the state of our body feeling “in danger”. This is “fight or flight” mode and while our body is here and in a chronic state of the sympathetic nervous system dominance, our digestion doesn’t work, our immune system shuts down, sleep is affected, our heart rate increases and we feel chronically fatigued. We gain weight and our hair skin and nails look drab, despite how hard we try and how great we eat. Our ability to tackle and manage daily tasks feels beyond comprehendible.
Sure you can get your self-care on with yoga, drinking green juice and meditating once in a while, cramming them smack in the middle of your stressful days, but I believe that self-care is a practice much more effective when approached daily, with mindfulness and intention.
Better yet, find a full day to dedicate to your self-care, whatever you need most in that particular moment. If I am home and free, Self-Care Sunday is a regular occurrence that serves a very important purpose to my sanity, my health and my happiness. Some Sundays are facial and hair masks, long showers or staying in my PJs all day. Some involve long walks with good friends, a late brunch and Sunday cocktails – to me it’s just about dedicating time for me, honoring the need for space, not working, not putting anyone else before me and simply rebalancing my mind, body and spirit.
By treating ourselves with kindness and love, daily, we can approach our life, our work and relationships with a happier, more clear mind, allowing the cycle of positivity and happiness to continue to ripple out into the world around us.
10 Simple Ways to Practice Self-Care
1) Eat Mindfully and Healthfully
What “healthy” means for you is highly personal to your health goals, your needs, your deficiencies and dysfunctions – but, by making choices where your health is the number one priority, you are already on your way to self-care. No matter what you eat, always eat with mindfulness and gratitude. Slow down, chew your food, don’t eat with distractions. You and anyone dining with you, the food you are eating and anyone involved in growing the food – it all deserves the respect of your full attention and gratitude
2) Treat Yourself to a Spa Day at Home
Take a bubble bath or a long steamy shower. Wash your hair. Give yourself a fancy blowout and add some beachy waves. Put a mask on your face, while you’re at it put a mask on your tresses, too. You might also consider swapping out your current skin care, hair care, dental care and other personal care products, with cleaner, safer versions – you deserve it. What you put ON your body is no different than what you put IN your body. Go for better stuff and make it part of a self-care ritual – you’re worth it.
3) Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
Comparison truly is the thief of joy. Stop comparing who you are, what you do, where you are at and what you like look to others, whether it’s friends, family, neighbors, celebrities or strangers, don’t get caught up in being jealous of and comparing yourself to the projections of people. Comparison can set unrealistic expectations and lead to feelings of inadequacy. Things aren’t always what they seem and people always share the parts of themselves that they most want the world to see. Own your shit with confidence and change about your life what you aren’t happy with, but don’t change to fit someone else’s mold.
4) Find Grace in the Space
Stop feeling the pressure to always be “busy”. Busy is the disease of our lifetime. You aren’t more important because you are busy. Lazy isn’t the opposite of busy. Slowing down, finding time to breath and not getting caught in the “hustle” this is important to feeling and being your best. Often in the quiet moments, in the space we give ourselves to be open and listen, we are our most inspired, we cultivate the best ideas and we simply gain perspective on how we can best spend our energy.
5) Move Your Body
Like our nutrition, this looks different on every body. It may be a 30 minute jog, a yin yoga class or maybe a hot sweaty 90 minute vinyasa class. It might be weightlifting, crossfit, running, paddleboarding or ju jitsu, or simply just a walk with a friend or a dance around your kitchen, alone. Movement and exercise has been proven to release endorphins, feel good chemicals that can help to reduce stress and anxiety, increase happiness and energy, improve mood, boost self esteem and improve sleep.
6) Surround Yourself with People You Love
Sure you could do it virtually, but I am talking about real life people. Flesh and blood, loving, kind people that care for you, respect you, and inspire you to be a better you. Make time for social outings, surround yourself with community and people that are there for you, in the good and the bad.
Get away, see something new. Breathe fresh air. Be inspired. Feel the release of your daily stresses fall away. Travel offers the opportunity to step away from the hustle and monotony of every day life and to be inspired by new places, new people and new cultures. The time away can also give us a fresh perspective on and sense of gratitude for our regular everyday lives. (Looking to getaway? Join us for a Weekend Winter Retreat in Yosemite, this January)
8) Unplug // Do Nothing
Social media is a wonderful way to stay connected to each other, where distance becomes a non-factor to being among our people, but it can also be a distraction and a breeding ground for unhealthy comparison (see #3). Take time away from the devices, the noise of social media and give yourself time and space daily to focus on the present, tangible real moments happening right in front of you. Have set times where you turn off your devices or limit your time on them to select hours. Stay in bed a little longer, go to bed a little earlier. Meditate, read a book, burn sage or just sit in silence.
9) Practice Gratitude
Gratitude is an immensely powerful force that we can use in the most simple of ways to expand our happiness and cultivate loving relationships, it can even improve our health, both mental and physical. A gratitude practice can be as simple as stopping to count your blessings, keeping a gratitude journal, writing a thank you note and more. Read more about the benefits of gratitude, tips on how to cultivate it and a simple gratitude journal worksheet you can download.
Sometimes tapping into your inner child and finding time to enjoy life with a sense of wonder and fun is just what we need. At times, being an adult is hard. You know what isn’t? Playing in the snow, jumping in puddles, coloring, playing a game, swimming in the ocean. Find something to do where the only goal is fun, no strings attached, no expectations and no desired outcome. Just let go and play!
Self-Care isn’t an act of being selfish, it’s being smart! Self-care is vital to being healthy and vibrant! I often tell my nutrition clients, we cannot take care of others, if we aren’t first taking care of ourselves, usually using the analogy of a mask on an airplane, where we are told “be sure to put your mask on before helping others”.
Drop the guilt and realize that you are beyond worthy and you deserve to feel your very best, every single day.
In her 1988 book, A Burst of Light, Audre Lorde wrote:
“caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.”
When we choose to prioritize ourselves and our health, the good feeling that come as a result has a very palpable ripple effect. When we feel good, we inspire others around us to feel good, too.