My Go-To Self-Care Practices
None of us ever have “enough time.” Our culture is so go-go-go, typically leading us to have minds and bodies that move at the same pace, always trying to catch up. Even during this “joyful” holiday season, often we’re moving even faster and even more stressed. I find myself preaching self-care because I know how important it is from experience, but it can seem difficult to fit in time to practice it during our busy lives.
I am still getting over the flu, having been more sick this week than I’ve been in 6+ years. Like a slap in the face, being sick has reminded me I’m not heeding my own advice. I know self-care is so important, but I had been forgetting to make time for it. I was “too busy” seeing out-of-town visitors, planning my yoga classes, shopping for gifts, working!…blah, blah, blah. When we don’t give to ourselves first, we can’t fully give to others. When we don’t practice self-care, we can’t fully practice unconditional care to others.
Make self-care a priority. Plan and carve out time for yourself, even if it’s spending an extra 5 minutes enjoying your hot morning shower.
There are so many ways to practice self-care, each of us are different. What brings you joy? What makes your heart sing? What is it, that when you’re doing it, you think to yourself, “I don’t want this to end?”
Here are a few of my favorite self-care practices:
- 10 minutes of mindfulness/guided meditation – whether this is laying in Savasana in silence, sitting in the sauna at the gym, or listening to a guided meditation before bed. Clearing our mind has so many proven benefits! Meditation is not about controlling your thoughts, but rather observing them as they come and go without judgement.
- Read or Listen to a Podcast – Activate your mind. Be curious. There’s so much to know and see and learn in the world! This is a great way to explore and distract yourself from your daily stresses for short time, a break that may allow you to address them with a new perspective.
- RUN! – or any type of exercise. Get moving! This is huge for me. I usually exercise for a little over an hour a day, but anything you can fit into your schedule is great! Our bodies were meant to move. This is especially important to do if you’re at a job you’re sitting most of the day. 15 minutes is better than 0 minutes!
- Get a Massage – Touch is important, not in a gross or creepy way, but there is a lot of power in touch and culturally we shy away from it. Getting a gentle massage or deep tissue on a regular basis is one of my favorite practices. They can be expensive, but it’s an investment on yourself, and in turn, everyone around you.
- Get Acupuncture – Acupuncture allows me to get to a state of relaxation I could only imagine drugs could get me to. I don’t know any other way to describe it. As soon as needles go into certain points in my body, I can feel energy flooding around that area.
- Take a bath – YES. This one can take a bit longer, because you have to spend time filling up the bath, but I started doing this a few years ago and haven’t turned back. A few drops of essential oil (lavender!) and/or Epsom salt, and maybe a candle or 2, and you’ll feel like you’re in a spa! 🙂 If I have enough time, I’ll also wrap myself in a fluffy robe with cozy socks and read for a while after.
- Dry Brush – Dry brushing is an Ayurveda practice (which you can think of as the sister science to yoga) and a powerful detoxification. It awakens your lymphatic system and releases cellular waste, plus it feels really good and exfoliates your skin. Give yourself a massage after and lather yourself up in coconut oil or almond oil.
- Yoga – this really could fit in all categories, but it’s become more of a spiritual practice for me. Yoga brings us into our bodies, and potentially out of our heads. It invites body awareness and exploration. Legs up the wall pose is especially good for this time of year and boosting the immune system and circulation. Note that, although it could be, yoga doesn’t have to be some crazy power vinyasa class, restorative is equally (if not more) beneficial for the spirit!
- Give back – Volunteer. I find this such a great way to humble myself. Find a population you’re passionate about providing service to.
- Practice gratitude – Practicing gratitude reminds us of all the beautiful things we already have, even if we are feelings stressed about other things. It allows my heart to be warm and grow several sizes (just like the Grinch 🙂 ).
- Journal – Writing our thoughts down can sometimes get them out of our head. I feel like my mind is a constant stream of subtitles, so journaling has always been a release for me to get things down on paper and out of my mind, or sometimes to just make sense of what the heck is going on up there.
- Get Outside – Feel the fresh air in your lungs and hair, and the sun on your face. Going outside and connecting with nature is such a peaceful practice for me. It helps connect me with the rest of the universe.
Take care of yourself this holiday season, and beyond. Be gentle. Do what you love to do. It’s okay to be a little selfish sometimes 🙂
Happy Holidays! I hope they are as beautiful as you!