When made easy and fun, self-care can happen more often, in even the most basic ways. Self-care gets eliminated from many women’s lives because they think it will take too much time or it’s too hard to slow. And yet, it’s only in the slowing down that we catch our breath, gain a new perspective, and hear the truth inside, so we know what we need next.
Of course it’s always nice to do some of those typical self-care acts you’ve heard of such as get a massage or take a bubble bath. Those things are great and something I recommend yet, there are other creative ways to honor, appreciate, and take care of ourselves.
Read more below to discover some quicker, more impactful ways to self-care and enjoy a renewed and rejuvenated sense of yourself!
1. BEGIN BY SAYING NO MORE OFTEN
For many women, it’s easy to be accommodating and nurturing to others, offering to make others’ lives better or easier, just by adding a little more to your to-do list. And for many of us, we think we can “squeeze it in or make it work”, even “if it’ll make my life or schedule a little tight”. Sometimes that one extra thing can be the thing that tips our carefully constructed juggling act to the other side, resulting in over extension and exhaustion.
Additionally, when we’re offered invitations to go, do, and be with others in fun settings, adventurous atmospheres or intimate environments, we often say Yes, Yes, and Yes! But then we wonder why we don’t have enough down time, or find ourselves running all over town, or feel exhausted and depleted and yet don’t know why.
One simple solution to this starts with using the word NO. Although we’d like to be there for everyone and do everything offered to us (and both are good things in moderation), we forget that too much of those things can over clutter our lives, keeping the focus on everything outside of us, and often leaving us feeling disconnected from our authentic selves.
Saying No can be a challenge, so here are a few phrases and tips to use and hold on to when choosing to focus on YOU before focusing on everyone and everything else.
Start with saying “Let me get back to you” whenever a special request is asked of you or another invitation floats into your inbox or phone. Once the pressure is removed from making a quick decision on the spot, you can take the time to really decide if helping out or saying yes to another social engagement fits your priorities.
When you say No, be prepared to say it again in many ways within the same conversation. “No”, “No thank you”, “Not this time”, and “I wish I could help out right now but I can’t”, are all ways to deliver the same message graciously while sticking to your decision.
Give yourself a daily or weekly challenge such as, choose to say No once or twice a day and see how it feels. You can also use this in situations or scenarios where you know you’ll be asked more times than usual to over extend yourself, such as during the holidays or when spending time with extended family.
2. HELLO BODY!
Sedentary lifestyles are so common and have become the norm, due to working 40 hours a week in an office, doing computer work, and using the click of a button to handle so much in life.
On top of that, the messages from the media and our culture around body shame and criticism is high, inviting many women into an adversarial relationship with their bodies, judging it constantly for not looking a certain way. As a result, the lack of body movement and rise of body criticism leaves us in an unhealthy paradigm.
It’s important to remember that our bodies make it possible for us to experience anything and everything in life. Without them, we wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t experience things such as great tasting food, sunshine on our face, love and connection with others, or laughing until we cry.
Of course exercising your body by going to the gym, hiking, or biking, etc are great and important ways to stay active but on a much smaller scale, moving your body in the simplest of ways is a start to feeling more connection inside and more appreciation for the vehicle that your body is. Additionally, using these tips to thank your body can help build an appreciation of what it does for you, no matter what it might look like.
Set an alarm on your phone to go off every hour at work as a reminder to get up and walk around or stretch, as opposed to getting stuck in your chair for hours hyper focused on work. The walk will clear your mind and make it easier to focus when you return.
Appreciate one body part all day, such as stay mindful and connected to your hands and notice all that they do for you – typing, tying shoes, carrying an overload of groceries into your home, etc. Our hands do so much for us!
Feel how your body responds to listening to music while you drive, using public transportation, or hearing it in a store. Move your shoulders, bob your head, circle your chest or tap your foot. You might feel funny doing this but you can make it subtle and your body will thank you.
3. CONNECT WITH YOUR TRIBE
In our world of technology and with communication possibilities at our finger tips, as a society we are feeling more disconnected and isolated from others than ever before. Often in the hustle and bustle of busy lives we even make less eye contact with our loved ones, since so much of life happens in passing between commitments or social engagements.
Take the time to really and truly connect with those who are dear to you*. Feeling connected to others who know and love you can do wonders for how we feel about ourselves and can renew our own appreciation for our uniqueness, as well as bring about the sense of feeling heard, seen, and acknowledged.
Start by making it simple:
Reach out to a friend over the phone on your commute. - How? Since phone calls aren’t as common these days, give your tribe a heads up with your desire to connect. Send out an email or send a text individually or to a group, saying you’ve been missing this person or this group, you’d love to get a little voice to voice time in and that you’ll be calling some of them in the next week or so. You can even set up a specific time to talk.
Challenge yourself to schedule at least one ‘in person’ get together a week or month, depending on your availability. Being intentional about these things can make a big difference, making the idea a reality.
Combine your desire to explore something new with connecting to a friend by inviting them to join you.
Are you wanting more of a tribe where you feel connected? Join an organization or volunteer for a cause you feel passionate about and see where connecting with new friends on that topic might take you.
* This might seem contrary to tip #1 - Saying No. We always want to be mindful of overscheduling. Getting clear on your priorities will help you distinguish between saying Yes to social interactions that might deplete you versus time spent with loved ones that really rejuvenate you.
4. TEN MINUTE DAILY START UP
With the fast pace of life, it’s easy to get swept away with the speed and busyness that consumes many of us. As we live our lives out in the world, managing the demands of work, maintaining our home lives, navigating traffic, and raising kids, it’s easy to lose focus on our inner life, including our spirituality, connection to self, hopes, dreams, priorities, preferences and desires.
Taking just ten minutes in the morning to dedicate time for yourself. Use this time to set the tone for your day. Imagine how you want to feel throughout it and embrace the intention to embody those feelings, no matter what might come your way.
Here are some tips to consider when stepping into this brief but powerful daily ritual:
Use the time to read something spiritual that speaks to you or something inspirational.
Choose music that is soothing and comforting to listen to during the ten minutes.
Make these ten minutes sacred by bringing in anything that feels special such as incense, lighting a candle, ringing chimes or a using a singing bowl.
There are many meditation apps (as short as 2 and 3 minutes) that are an easy and brief way to experience a guided meditation that will leave you feeling refreshed and reconnected to yourself.
Consider journaling or writing about your inner thoughts, hopes, dreams and/or desires.
Listen to an inspirational speaker or YouTube video.
Spend this time connecting with gratitude (read more about that on the tip below).
5. GRATITUDE AND PRESENCE
You’ve heard it before and it really is true, living from gratitude can change your life. As we often hurry through our existence, we take for granted so much and miss numerous moments to appreciate all that makes our lives easier or more beautiful, for example.
When we live from gratitude, one instant effect is it brings us more into the present moment.
Sometimes gratitude can feel monotonous or routine, especially when we feel grateful for some of the usual things, such as “I’m grateful for my friends and family and the roof over my head”. These things often lack the ability to renew or rejuvenate our general sense of appreciation.
So I invite you to get creative with how you go about an attitude of gratitude. Below are some fun possibilities:
Choose a theme to be grateful for, focusing on that one topic or subject for the day such as transportation, technology (yes, there’s much to thank technology for, even if it might makes us crazy sometimes!), the miraculous healthy functions of your body (eyes to see, hands that do so much for you, lungs that bring you fresh air).
Three Breaths and Thank you – take a moment each day to be still and breath in three deep breaths while you notice your surroundings and what you’re grateful for in that very moment – a cup of coffee that warms your hands, getting the answer you needed from your boss, the sunlight streaming through the window, laughter shared with a co-worker or Facebook friend.
Choose two people in your life that you want to specifically thank that day for being in your life and bringing you a sense of – fill in the blank (peace, happiness, safety, etc).
Out in public, decide to give an extra thank you to those who are in the service industry – the man or woman bagging your groceries, the bus boy clearing your table at a restaurant, the clerk behind the counter ringing up your purchase.