Self care is how we care for our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. With our busy lives, this can often be pushed to the background as we provide care to others.
My Self Care Journey
Although my health and well-being have improved significantly, my self care journey hasn’t always been smooth or easy. Indeed, it often feels like I’m playing “Jenga” with my schedule to manage a business, transport an active teen to and from school and sports, and co-run a household. However, I’ve learned to prioritize and savor the short spaces between it all. This practice shows up in various self care short breaks:
- Taking a few deep breaths before getting out of bed in the morning (time commitment 1-2 minutes).
- I stop, park the car, and do nothing but daydream before picking up my kiddo from school (time commitment 3-4 minutes).
- Sipping a cup of chamomile tea in the evening or taking a walk around the block, depending on what my body needs to wind down (time commitment 5-10 minutes).
- Stepping away from work to pause for meals (time commitment 45-90 minutes).
- Writing down three things each day that I’m grateful for (time commitment 2 minutes).
My Self Care Activities
When the opportunity presents itself, and I have longer blocks of time to rest, regroup, and restore, my self care list may look like this:
A guided yoga class (not a surprise, huh?). On the days my energy is low, I head to a gentle, restorative, or Yin yoga class, preferably with some mindful breathwork. Click here to access current Kind Body Yoga classes. On days when I’m looking for a more vigorous class, I may choose a vinyasa or steady flow class. (time commitment 45-75 minutes)
Many people find time in nature very southing and restorative. This can be a great self-care idea! If I’m tired, I grab a blanket and set it up near a garden, a park with trees, or near water (think lake or river, but a park fountain could work too). If I have more energy, I like to get out for a hike or trail run. These options take me out of my busy mind and tune me into my senses. I take a moment to notice 1-2 sounds, sights, and scents outside. (time commitment 15-60 minutes)
A phone call with one of my close friends. This typically gets set-up ahead of time to ensure that our schedules align. (time commitment 10-60 minutes)
Here’s a self care idea you probably haven’t thought of. Visit a dog park, with or without my dog. Watching animals interact is instantly playful and relaxing. I’ve never left a dog park without having at least one burst of laughter. For days when time’s not abundant, a YouTube search for the best funny animal videos may do the trick. (time commitment you decide)
When I was in the early stages of my self care experiment I needed to create reminders on my phone to pause and take a few deep breaths. Or I would block off 15-minute appointments in my calendar that said “Me Time” to give self-care a chance to take root. I learned the hard way that if I was not intentional about building self care into my week, I would end up flat on my back with a migraine. My body screaming!
15 Self Care Ideas to get you started:
take 3-5 breaths and extend the exhale longer than the inhale (for free guided practices, try the Insight Timer app).
Give or get a hug (embracing for a minimum of 7 seconds can release oxytocin and decrease the stress hormone cortisol).
Trade a shoulder massage with a friend or family member.
Relax in a Hot Tub
Soak in a warm bath with Epsom salts (add lavender essential oil for extra calm).
Watercolor sets are available for $1-$3 at the Dollar Tree and Fred Meyers.
Really Enjoy a Meal
Sit down with something you enjoy eating and give your full attention and permission to the experience. Savor the smell, taste, and colors of what you are eating.
A mindful walk around the block where you engage your senses of sight, sound, smell, and touch.
Play a Game
Play a board game with someone much older or younger than yourself.
Have a Foodie Night
Make a foodie date with yourself or a friend. Pick a favorite restaurant or try a new one you’ve been waiting to visit.
There’s a reason why adult coloring books have hit the stands. They ignite creative energy, calm the mind, and allow our inner kid to be present.
Read a good book to wind down right before bed. Consider choosing a good novel, mystery, or stop that gives your brain a break. This may mean steering away from books related to work or self-improvement.
Relax while you are doing laundry!
Listen to your favorite podcast or audiobook. Your local library has thousands of offerings in every category! It can transport you to other times and places with the stories.
Watch an old movie with a friend.
Write down 3 things each day that you are grateful for (hint: the little things are the big things).
Do a puzzle (150-piece puzzles are a great place to start if you’re new to puzzles).
Self-Care is not Self Indulgence!
Self-care for many of us may be viewed as a luxury that happens only after we’ve worked hard and long enough to deserve it. Before my bluff was called, I thought self-care involved paying for services like a mani-pedi, a massage, or going out to a nice meal. These things may fall into the self-care category for some, but they may be too time or cost-prohibitive for others. What if we re-imagined self-care to include both states of mind and things you do? Could setting boundaries, engaging in skillful communication, tuning into your feelings throughout the day, and practicing self-compassion also be self-care?
I’m now two years into my second half of life and have some consistent self-care experiences under my belt. My go-to list has grown. I’ve also found that what feels nurturing, restorative, and mood-boosting can vary from one day to the next. The one thing I’ve found with any of the self care practices I weave into my week. If I am fully present with what I am doing it allows me to feel more at ease.
What feels like self care to you? I’d love to hear what replenishes you, re-kindles your creative energy, and allows you to show up as your best self; email Natalie Murphy, RYT-200, RD, LD @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here if you’d like to set up a free 15-minute Discovery Call with Natalie if you’d like to explore ways yoga, mindfulness, and nourishment may be a part of your self-care practice.
Click here to read about Natalie as part of the Ruby Health and Wellness Collective.
Click here to check out Natalie’s practice in Bend, Oregon: Brave Revolution Yoga and Wellness.