Self-care seems to have become a taboo subject and yet it’s more important than ever to incorporate into our lives. It is vital to look inside and find ways to take care of #1, now more than ever. Self-care can directly impact your overall wellbeing, for better or worse. Greater self-care leads to elevated moods, better health, even self-worth, which in turn bleeds into other aspects of your life.
The why behind practicing self-care
You might be one of those people that dreams about working self-care routines into your hectic schedule but might not see it paying off enough to carve out the time. It is important to note that self-care does not include escaping to a bar as soon as work is over or any other kind of activity that doesn’t benefit you in the end. Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Whether you’re clueless or you could be implementing more self-care activities into your life, we’ve got the tips you need to get your self-care routine to the level you deserve it to be. Self-care is all about compassion for oneself.
Beyond the tips I am going to give you, the goal is to dig deep and think about ways you would ideally improve your overall wellbeing. What works for me might not work for you, but getting your mind jogging around ways to care for yourself is the goal. Ideally, with creating a self-care regimen, you incorporate all of the different categories of self-care.
There are three main categories of health that these self-care activities will attribute to:
1. Physical health
This includes but is not limited to your physical activity, rest and sleep, nutrition, and diet.
2. Psychological health
Otherwise known as your mental and emotional health, this includes your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and mood.
3. Spiritual health
Finding a balance of the body, mind, and spirit is key. Personally, I know that my spiritual health is where it needs to be when I feel “centered”, or “grounded.” When you are centered, you can better grasp your emotions, and you are more in tune with the present moment.
Why Sleep is so important for self-care
This is no-contest, the most important part of self-care — good old-fashioned sleep. Rest for the body is unlike anything else you can do for yourself. Your body gets a chance to repair itself and heal. What occurs in the body while we sleep is critical to your body properly functioning and your overall alertness. Sleep contributes to maintaining a healthy immune system, regulating hormones, mood regulation, energy levels, even your metabolism. On the contrary, without adequate sleep, you can experience a lack of concentration, unrealistic increase in appetite, impaired judgment, sleepiness is even linked to depression. The opposite of self-care.
Now that you have an adequate amount of rest, you’re ready to kick off your self-care routine.
Self-care regimen to start the day
Starting the day off on the right foot and making sure you are fully charged in order to give the world your personal best and show off your talents is key. If your priority upon waking up is giving yourself what you need, you will then be able to give yourself to others throughout the day.
Here are 5 things you can do before the workday begins:
1. Daily Meditation (Transcendental Meditation) liberates the soul
Transcendental Meditation is the oldest form of meditation, founded over 50 years ago by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Last summer I was invited to an orientation on Transcendental Meditation and since I am always open to all forms of meditation, I decided to check it out. We’ve all heard claims that are made about the benefits of meditation, but this class was an hour full of testimonials and statistics on the benefits of this particular form of meditation. I was surprised to watch footage of multiple celebrities talking about their experiences with it and how it’s changed their lives. Celebrities like Ellen, Jerry Seinfeld, Oprah, Katy Perry, and many more. Next thing I know, I’m signed up for a four-day course on how to learn how to meditate on my own. I was given a personal mantra during my first course and was taught how to meditate for 20 minutes a day, twice a day. To this day, I carve out the time without fail, though it can be difficult at times.
So, what is the difference between Transcendental Meditation and other forms of meditation?
The amount of mental effort it takes to perform this type of meditation is effortless in comparison to others, and it uses different brain wave activity which is ideal in terms of benefits. This form of meditation has evidence-based benefits such as depression, insomnia, addiction, PTSD, ADHD, and even autism.
2. The Wim Hof method is an amazing life hack
Another self-care activity that I start my day off with is the Wim Hof breathing technique and cold shower. The Wim Hof method is a combination of cold therapy combined with a unique breathing technique.
Otherwise known as “The Iceman” Wim Hof is a Dutch extreme athlete known for his ability to withstand freezing temperatures. He’s set multiple world records and is known for embodying “mind over matter” since some of the things he has accomplished were once considered scientifically impossible.
The method has been scientifically proven to unlock many benefits including:
- Increased energy
- Better sleep
- Heightened focus/attention
- Reduced stress levels
- Enhanced creativity
- Stronger immune system
- Improved sports performance
Starting my day with his guided breathing exercise followed by a 30-second cold shower has changed my morning routine for the better. I feel stronger and more prepared to conquer the day, which has done wonders for my all-around well being.
3. Daily gratitude can remind you of what’s important in life
It’s easy to wake up and start the day off by thinking about stresses that might be ahead of you, to worry about things, or to think about all of the things you want or don’t have. We are human, we all do this. The remedy to this is gratitude.
Gratitude has been known to have many tangible benefits.
I notice a significant difference in my mood when I start my day jotting down the things I am grateful for. Gratitude helps me to focus on the things that really matter in my life, count my many blessings, and get clarity on what I’d like to bring more of into my life.
I’ve been using this journal for years now and highly recommend it to everyone.
4. Read something intellectually engaging
There’s nothing like starting the day by reading something inspiring. Something that fires you up and gives you the optimism you need to make the best of your day.
Reading material will vary from person to person, but I recommend reading something that puts you in the kind of headspace you’d like to be in at the start of your day.
Besides being inspired, reading offers many cognitive benefits:
- Heightens brain activity
- Boosts imagination
- Rewires the brain
- Heightens your attention span
- Increases memory capacity
I recommend subscribing to a daily publication that will give you fresh material to dive into, or keeping a book around that you find genuinely interesting. This is key, as we tend to put off reading altogether if we aren’t interested in consuming whatever it is we are reading.
5. Get the body moving to feel good physically
After a week of adding a short stretching routine to my morning ritual, there was no turning back.
As an avid runner, I experience tight muscles often, and stretching is an absolute necessity. Whether I add exercise to my morning routine or not, getting the body to loosen up and get ready for the day has been life-changing.
Stretching has many physical benefits as well as psychological:
- Increases flexibility
- Increases blood flow to your muscles
- Improves performance
- Improves posture
- Heals/prevents back pain
- Relieves stress
- Calms the mind
My personal preference to exercise in the morning as opposed to the afternoon is my own, but I find that I have more energy in the morning and I enjoy the boost of endorphins first thing.
Taking cycling classes, yoga classes, going for a run, lifting weights in the gym are all great ways to get your fix. If you are able, I recommend getting outside and going for a brisk walk or run. In comparison to exercising indoors, there is no substitute for getting fresh air and watching the sunrise if it is out.
Exercising regularly not only benefits you physically but mentally as well. Regular exercise has been linked to sharper memory, higher self-esteem, better sleep, anxiety/stress relief, and overall increased energy.
Some additional Self-Care Activities
Eating Right as a From of Self-Maintenance
Right up there next to the amount of sleep you get, the food you put into your body is extremely important for self-care. Eating the right foods can fuel your body so that you have sustainable energy throughout the day as well as higher levels of focus.
Specifically, your gut health.
After discovering this book by Harvey Diamond a few years ago, I have referred to it for recipes and daily diet guidelines.
Another protip on gut health–probiotics.
You might have a number of daily supplements that you take to maintain health, but probiotics are a necessity.
Probiotics are linked to improved digestion, weight loss, enhanced immune system, healthy skin, decreased inflammation, and more.
If you’re interested in reading more about probiotics, check out this amazing article here.
Each probiotic offers unique strains and associated benefits, so be sure to do some research in order to choose the right one for your body.
My personal favorite: https://www.amazon.com/PRO45-CLINICAL-Probiotic-patented-digestive/dp/B01FV5PFS0
Self-care regimen to end the day
A warm Epsom salt bath Is good for the soul
If you exercise often, your muscles will appreciate a soak in warm water and Epsom salts, and you will enjoy the feeling of hopping out more relaxed. Lights off, candles on, relaxation mode on.
Journaling can set your heart free
If you aren’t already reaping the benefits of documenting moments of your life that might otherwise be forgotten, now is a great time to start.
This is where personal preference comes into play and where benefits will differ given the various types of journals.
Your journal can literally serve as your personal therapist and can help you understand and vent the thoughts and feelings that might be burdening you.
Personally, I use two different forms of journals throughout my day, one called the one line a day journal and another general journal where I jot down memories that I feel compelled to document, or simply to clear my head.
Some topic starters for your journal to make it even more constructive:
- What are some things you learned today?
- What are some things from today you’d like to remember?
- What are some things that made you smile?
Again, this is your journal and self-care activity, so the main idea is to use your journal as a way to relieve stress, vent, and express yourself. Putting the effort in is itself self-care.
Have a hobby, mine is creation
Do you have a hobby that genuinely interests you and makes you lose track of time? For me, creating something (writing/drawing) not only soothes my mind but gets my mind jogging in ways that nothing else does. My imagination is peaked and I am able to enter a different reality for those few moments. Getting back to basics and using colors to draw/write, I channel my inner child, which in my opinion should never be lost.
Your hobby could be playing the saxophone, gardening, learning how to mix music, making your own soy candles, anything that makes your heart sing. Your hobby should ideally be an activity unrelated to your work as you want to use it as a means to escape for a short while.
Clear some clutter/create a sanctuary
There is something very therapeutic about getting the cleaning supplies out and clearing some dust, even rearranging your space.
Fashioning my personal space into a sanctuary has always been an activity that I enjoy to the very smallest detail. Lighting my favorite scented candles or incense, making sure the lighting is affecting my mood properly, and that all cutter is cleared. Your environment can often dictate your mood and emotional state, so create the perfect space for you to return to any time you need it.
All in all, monitoring and maintaining your own personal self-care regimen is honoring yourself. If you think about it, taking care of yourself is the most important person to take care of if you want to give yourself to the world, to your family, friends, and loved ones.
Do everything to take care of #1 and your life will change for the better!