Do you ever feel like you are the greatest when it comes to taking care of others but not so great when it comes to taking care of yourself?
My oh my. I can completely understand where you’re coming. We are usually the last on the list when it comes to caring for ourselves. I remember a few years ago when I was a student in college living life on the fast lane. Every moment from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed was go-go-go. I was the vice president of a marketing club, I had a part time internship, I juggled 3 different jobs, I shoved food down my throat whenever I could eat (there is no kinder way to put it), I helped with responsibilities for my family back home, I was involved in community service and I was always there in support of the friends who needed me. I barely slept. I had a racing and anxious mind that often kept me awake. Insomnia was a familiar place. I don’t remember ever putting myself first.
Let’s just say it didn’t take long until my mind, body and soul was screaming at me. Literally. To a point at which I could no longer ignore. It is often at this point, when the decibel of pain is screeching in our ears that we finally decide to listen and make positive changes to care for ourselves.
That’s when I was led to meditation which is what I like to say is the ultimate self-care and self-love experience. I’m at a place in my life now where I truly feel I can serve others because I spend a good amount of time daily, serving myself first. Part of why self-care is difficult is because it sounds like we are being selfish. But it won’t take long for you to realize that self care means self respect.Here are a list of ways to practice self-care from a few things I’ve been doing over the past 4 years that has helped to keep me balanced, grounded while being in service to others.
Coming from a person who didn’t care much for herself, I know you might find some resistance to this list in the beginning. But if your decibel of pain is almost unbearable, I invite you to surrender and begin the practice of self-care. If your excuse is that you don’t have time, observe the amount of time you spend scrolling through your social medias when you first wake up in the morning, throughout the day, or when you’re about to go to bed at night.
(Pssst, it might scare you. )
Instead, invest that time in yourself.
Self-care is the first step to Self-Love. And truthfully, who doesn’t want to love themselves?
1.Ask yourself “how do I want to feel?” Every morning, instead of grabbing your phone to do the infamous scroll. Ask yourself this question. If the answer is, “I want to feel happy”. Then your task throughout the day is to align your actions with what makes you happy. Working out makes you happy. Yoga makes you happy. Or whatever it is that your hobby is. If it makes you happy, do it!
2.Take time alone to yourself. We are permeated by the thoughts and actions of others today more than ever. With the use of social media, we are always connected to someone or something. It’s great! But are we really? There is a surface level type connection and there are those kinds of connections that run deeper than the ocean. Those are the connections that I seek in life. I find that the more time I spend unplugged from the chatter and the more time I spend connecting with myself; the more deep, fulfilling and long lasting my relationships are. I know solitude can sound scary to some people, but it is truly a gratifying and lively place to be. It is where you can go to recharge and where you joyfully get to know yourself.
Learn to enjoy your own company, away from the hustle and bustle of life
3. Immerse yourself in nature. Try to get yourself outdoors more often. Drive to the closest scenery. Whether that is your backyard or a nearby trail path. Allow yourself to just be with what is and simply observe. If you can do that, I promise that the trees, the grass, the sky, the birds, the wind have a whole lot to teach you. You can also go cloud-watching. Bring a blanket, lie on your back and watch the clouds move across the sky. I can’t promise you it’s more entertaining than watching The Bachelor but I can promise you it’ll leave you feel super relaxed and even rejuvenated.
4. Find a quiet, comfortable place and meditate. Meditation is the every day self love and self care experience. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a place you go to to shut off the world and escape. It is a place you to go to embark the inward the journey that allows you be a better citizen of the world. The journey that brings you much serenity, stillness, peace, balance, fullness, and happiness. You are not asking for your thoughts to disappear but rather directing the traffic of those thoughts until you reach silence. You can learn more about meditation by visiting here.
5. Take a warm bath with epsom salt while indulging in a good read. We are using our bodies every day, some more than others. When do we ever give it the kind of love it deserves? What I love about epsom salt is that it helps to loosen stiff joints and relax the muscles. The bath is the perfect to listen to your favorite soothing music (maybe even with a glass of red wine every once in a while if ya know what I mean) or indulging in a good read. Immerse in books that feed positive thoughts and perspectives into your mind.
6. Move your body. Practice yoga, pilates or exercises that make you feel good. Bring yourself to try something new. Maybe your nearest spin studio offers free trials, go for it! Or maybe the closest boot camp style training offers a 1 week trial, give it whirl! Exercising helps to release endorphins, stimulates the release of dopamine and serotonin which are all brain chemicals that regulate your mood. If you feel as though you are drained, don’t have enough energy, or feel unhappy then start working out and notice how you feel afterwards. I’m warning you when I say it may make you feel so good it might just turn into a lifestyle 😉
7. Observe your eating habits. So much of what we eat is on an auto-pilot running mind. Because our lives are so busy, it’s easy for us to go for convenient, fast and cheap aka drive throughs. But convenient isn’t always the best when it comes to caring for ourselves. Begin to observe your eating habits and notice how you feel after each meal. Notice your eating behaviors. Are you an emotional eater? Are you an overeater? Or an undereater? Do you have add enough greens to your plate? The more you can consciously decide what to put in your mouth, the better you might just feel about yourself! It can be very helpful to eat foods that make you feel good not just for immediate gratification to satisfy your tastebuds.
8. Learn to say “no” to others. It’s so easy to say “yes”, “yes”, “yes” to every invitation you receive but caring for yourself means that sometimes we have to say “no” to others so that we can instead say “yes” to ourselves. When we agree to do everything for everyone, our plate gets too full. We then aren’t as loving in that relationship as we could be because our energy is dissipated into a million different places. We can be of greater company to others by kindly declining and scheduling for a time that is more kind to our mind, body and soul versus overfilling our plate.
9. Get in sound, restful sleep regularly. If we are often putting stresses on our bodies, we also need to give to the time it needs to repair itself. For us humans, that repairing is happening while we are asleep. 6-8 hours of sound sleep a night is enough to make you feeling like a rockstar the next day.
10. Drink plenty of water and remember to hydrate. Fluids are helpful in flushing out toxins that build up in our bodies. Remembering to hydrate through the day means that we are being good partners to our bodies as it does what it needs to do to keep us alive.
11. Do what you love. What is it that you absolutely love to do ? And when was the last time you got to that? Do you love going to live concerts but have been so busy that you keep making excuses not to? Not this time! Do you love to paint? Do you love to fish? Do you love to be with your friends?
Whatever it is that makes your heart sing, go do that thing!
12. Start a gratitude journal. Everyday, commit to writing 5-10 things you are grateful for. (It can be as simple as “I am grateful for my breath”.) Gratitude changes attitudes my friends! It gives us a fresh perspective and opens our eyes to all the things there are around us daily to be appreciative of. It only takes 2-5 minutes of your time and can instantly brighten up your mood.
13. Schedule in “play time” to be a goof. With bills and all the adulting stuff, we sometimes take ourselves a little too seriously. Loosen up. Schedule in your play time to let that inner child come to life. It doesn’t matter how old you are. It’s in you my friend.
My favorite feel good song to jam out to in some comfortable pj’s is “All Star” by Smash Mouth. Put a blanket on your head and twirl around in your living room. Or jump on your bed. Or dance however the heck you feel like. Let the goof go through the rooof.
14. “I’ve always wanted to….” Know that mental list in your head of all the things you’ve been wanting to do but have never gotten around to doing? Maybe it’s a project around the house or a trip you’ve been longing to take. Instead of thinking about it, it’s time to go experience it. If not now, then it may be never.
15. Let go what you don’t need. Mentally and physically. Declutter in your home and social media followings of all the things that no longer align with who you are or who you want to become. This creates more space for the things you do want in life to enter.
16. Have a good, belly-hurting laugh. Watch a funny video or spend time with someone who you know will make you laugh in a way that has you rolling on the floor, crying tears of mascara and painfully striking your belly all at the same time.
17. Pamper yourself. Treat yourself to an at home spa experience. Put on a rejuvenating face mask. Give yourself a pedicure. Or treat yourself out to a massage and full spa experience as well.
18. What do you love the most about yourself? If it’s hard for you to care for yourself, I am guessing it’s hard for you to love on yourself as well. So as humbly as possible, sit there and say aloud all the things that you absolutely love about yourself. For example,
“I love my heart and how I wear it on my sleeve”
“I love the unique birthmarks on my body”
“I love my ability to love”
19. Be with good company. Surround yourself with company that uplifts you, inspires you and motivates you to overall be a better person. You are the company you keep. Be mindful of who you choose to share your time with. Sometimes being around people who don’t align with your values and morals can truly drain you.
20. Listen to uplifting music. Tune in to some upbeat music that makes you want to smile wide and move your body or the calming, soothing music that makes you want to relax.
What other things can you do to care for yourself more? Remember that this isn’t a one time thing. It doesn’t start and end. Self-care is a practice and practice means it takes time to get to a place where it becomes habitual for us to take care of ourselves first. When we can do commit to self-care, we are committing to caring for others from a place of abundance not from a place of lack. Lack of energy, lack of enthusiasm, lack of desire, because we are too worn out.
The best part of all of this is that it’s free. How’s that for some self care.
This is a good list to start implementing small steps towards a long journey of loving on you.
As hard as it may be for you to practice this, remember that as much you love others and want to give them the world;
You need you more than any one needs you.
Without self-care, we would be self -less aka less of ourselves. Have at it sunshine! Take care of you.
In l0ve and light,