Is your anxiety and stress at an all-time high? You are certainly not alone! Especially during uncertain and trying times, it is very easy to become overwhelmed and lose sight of what matters most – our physical, emotional and mental well-being. A strong self-care practice is not lavish or a luxury, it’s a necessity for all. And while self-care can look and feel different for everyone, here are 9 self-care practices you can give a try today:
1. Gain Clarity
Years of anticipating and providing for the needs of others might mean that you have rarely, if ever, taken the time to define your own wants, needs and desires. Start by making a list of the top 10 feelings you’d like to feel every day. Feelings like relaxed, happy, content, peaceful, enthusiastic, and present are just a few to get you started. Next, ask yourself what you love doing that can help you create those feelings. For example, going on a solo nature walk might make you feel happy, adventurous and healthy. Finally, take action by immersing yourself in activities that you love doing and find an accountability partner to keep you on track.
Move your body and if you can, get some fresh air and a change of scenery while you do it! Exercise reduces stress hormone levels and stimulates the production of endorphins, the body’s natural mood elevators. Aim for at least 30 minutes of movement a day, but if you’re crunched on time, 10 minutes of stretching, a quick yoga flow, a walk around the neighborhood, or a dance break in your living room is a great way to start! Megan Roup’s The Sculpt Society is an upbeat dance cardio workout that gets your body moving and grooving in the best way possible!
3. Talk it out
Create a safe place to talk through your needs. It does not have to be with a therapist or certified life coach. Simply having someone like a friend or family member, hold space for you to vent can make all the difference in the world. FaceTime one of your besties or connect with a coach or therapist via video chat or text message through apps like BetterHelp or Talkspace. Remember, we’re all in this together.
A great way to take care of your mind, even for a brief moment, is through meditation. If you’re feeling stressed, try this: count to 5 as you inhale, filling your lungs up all the way, and count to 5 again as you exhale all the air out. Rinse and repeat. Slowing your breath down can help you feel less anxious and allow you to think clearer. Apps like Headspace and Insight Timer are amazing apps for you to use if you need help with starting a mediation practice.
Get a full night’s sleep regularly. Start by setting an alarm on your phone that gently reminds you to start winding down for the evening an hour before your bedtime. Make it a game by seeing if you can get into bed sooner than the night before. If you have trouble falling asleep, wear blue-light-blocking glasses before bed to help reduce exposure to blue light waves that can keep you awake. I also recommend this portable sound machine for ocean wave sounds and white noise. You’ll be getting more quality sleep in no time!
Jot down your thoughts in a journal first thing in the morning before you start your day. Create a ‘no judgement zone’ where you allow yourself to freely write any thoughts that come to mind. The key here is to not censor yourself through the process. This exercise can be eye-opening for many because a lot of us have negative thoughts swirling in our minds every day that we aren’t conscious of. Once you get clear on the chatter in your mind, it becomes easier to see the thoughts that might be keeping you stuck and areas of your life you can give more love to.
7. Practice gratitude
Having a daily gratitude practice can be life changing! The Five Minute Journal: A Happier You in 5 Minutes a Day journal is an easy way to start your gratitude practice with structured prompts. If writing isn’t your thing, you can still find fun ways to integrate gratitude into your life. Get your partner or friend involved and list off three things you’re most grateful for over a home cooked meal from HelloFresh. When you shift your mind’s attention from negative to positive, you’ll naturally start looking for more positive in your life.
We live in a hyper-connected world, so disconnecting can be difficult, but necessary. Turn off your phone, shut your laptop, and create a gadget-free environment. Use this time to take a bubble bath, drink a glass of wine on your patio, or read that book you’ve had sitting on your nightstand for months. It’s important to disconnect from social media, texts, and notifications so you can reconnect to feeling your best.
9. Set boundaries
Be protective of your time and energy and practice saying “no” to things that no longer serve you. Many people who struggle with self-care have people-pleasing tendencies, so setting boundaries can be especially difficult. Start by reminding yourself of the feelings you want to create in your life (tip #1) and be honest with yourself about the people, places and things that aren’t adding value to your life anymore.
The more you prioritize yourself and your needs, the better you’ll be able to show up for others. Start today. These self-care tips will lead to a healthier, stronger, and more positive you!
Samantha is a Certified Life Coach who helps women live more balanced, fulfilled and aligned lives by giving them the tools, systems and processes that help them go inward to their highest selves.