We hear so much about “self-care” these days and how important it is to our physical, mental and emotional well-being. It’s easy to become immune to the idea when you hear people talking about it all of the time- it’s almost as if it becomes white noise. You hear people talk about self-care, you probably know that you should practice self-care, but it can feel like quite a task. Putting yourself as a priority and taking time out of your day may not feel as easy as it should be. However, now is the time to quiet the white noise and really focus in on the idea that self-care is critical in everyone’s life, especially if you’re dealing with chronic illness or mental health issues.
So, let’s simplify. Self-care is the act of taking care of yourself. You can take better care of others and the responsibilities you have when you are actively and regularly taking care of yourself. Self-care does not need to be complicated or time consuming. Try these 10 ideas that will take 15 minutes or less.
1) Read. Just about any type of reading will fit the bill- books, magazines, blogs, whatever! As long as it’s not reading that causes you stress, it counts as self-care
2) Go outside. If you are able to walk, a short stroll can clear your head, allow you to enjoy nature and get you out into a refreshed place. If you can’t walk, sitting outside and enjoying the day is a great choice.
3) Call a friend. Texting, emailing and instant messaging have become all-too-common. Take the time to call someone who helps you feel good and who will brighten your day.
4) Color. There is a fantastic new trend of adult coloring books. Coloring can act to calm you down and clear your mind as you focus on the task at hand.
5) Listen to music. Choose music that you enjoy; it can be music that energizes you, relaxes you, inspires you- it doesn’t matter. Take the time to focus on the music and enjoy the time to yourself.
6) Practice mindfulness. Sit in a comfortable position and focus on your breathing. When thoughts enter your mind, let them pass through without judgement and refocus on your breathing. When you practice mindfulness on a regular basis you will likely notice feeling more calm in your daily life.
7) Create a space that is cheerful. Add some flowers to your house; light some candles; use a room spray that you like. Try to create an environment that makes you feel good.
8) Curl up for a nap. When you’re not getting enough sleep it’s almost impossible to be at your best. If you’re struggling with an illness you may find getting a good night’s sleep is a challenge. Take the time to add to your sleep bank.
9) Think positively. When you’re struggling personally or in pain it can be very hard to be positive. However, by working to practice positive thinking, we may notice that we begin to feel better and are not as focused on the challenges.
10) Your choice. Take the time to think about what makes you happy and feel good. Make the time to do it. Be flexible if you need to. Maybe you can’t travel right now but you could look at your photos from your last trip. Or, if you love to ride horses but can’t right now, maybe you can head to the barn for a visit.
Remember that self-care is consciously taking care of your own needs and helping yourself to refuel and recharge. This is important for everyone, but especially if you are dealing with an illness of some kind. Self-care does not need to be long and involved; short but regular acts of self-care can go a long way to helping improve your mental and physical state.
Share with us your favorite self-care strategies.
Sara Robinson, MA has a degree in Sport Psychology. Through her blog www.getmombalanced.com she helps moms clarify what balance means and provides support to create the balance moms want. Connect with her at www.facebook.com/getmombalanced