Taking time to practice self-care might sound corny, but when the going gets tough, knowing a few things that you can do to lift your spirits can be really handy. In times of stress we need ways to unwind and restore our energy more than ever.
Trouble is, when life gets you down and the stress builds up, it can be hard to remember to practice small acts of self-care. To take time to relax & be present, to try to do things that make us feel good.
“Our way to practice is one step at a time, one breath at a time.” ~ Shunryu Suzuki
I’ve had a rough week. I won’t go into details here because it’s all family dramas and sad news, but late on Monday afternoon things got a little darker, and a little ball of tension formed at my core. Yesterday afternoon I managed to escape to the coast for an hour after spending time with my family, and then I set aside an hour for restorative yoga when I got home. Slowly this ball of stress loosened, and I’m ready to take a deep breath and keep going.
I’m so very thankful that I know myself well enough now to know what I need when stress begins to mount, so grateful for the lessons of the past. I managed to cut back on my commitments to make time for sea air, the company of a dear friend and yoga. My very own self-care must-haves.
Last night, I was trying to think of things my Mum could do to feel better at the moment (as I said, the whole family is suffering currently) and I started a list. I emailed her these ideas. This morning I decided to share them here with you, as these are universally good things to do when the shit hits the fan or you are generally feeling blue! I hope they help in some way.
Feel free to pass along to a friend who might need some self-care inspiration, or bookmark for a rainy day
Here are 22 things you can do to feel better:
1. Move your body – get your yoga mat out, go for a walk, take the bike for a spin. The key is to get out of your head and into your body for a while. Plus exercise releases all the good chemicals that help you feel better naturally! Win win.
2. Borrow a box set or download a complete season of a new show (recommendations include Orange is the New Black, Mad Men, Game of Thrones, 30 Rock, Parks & Recreation).
3. Make and eat this: Breakfast Polenta.
4. Browse here: http://imgur.com/r/aww/
5. Make a good pot of tea. Theanine in tea helps calm you down, it’s science. Also, tea is just generally lovely.
“Smile, breathe, and go slowly.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
7. Make popcorn from scratch, add macadamia oil, salt and maple syrup. YUM.
8. Paint your nails a ridiculous colour. Or (even better) treat yourself and get someone to paint them for you.
9. Lie on your bed and rest your legs up against the wall. Possibly nap. Probably wake with a start as your legs fall off the wall when you fall asleep. Feel better either way.
10. Eat chocolate. Or drink hot chocolate. Basically – chocolate.
11. Drive to the sea. Sit and stare out at the ocean and smile at the fact that you get to sit and stare at the ocean right now. That’s pretty special. While you’re there, breathe deep. Fresh & salty sea air – there’s really nothing like it.
12. Message someone you haven’t spoken to in a while just to ask how they’re doing at the moment. You’ll brighten their day.
13. Re-watch When Harry Met Sally or Love Actually. With chocolate. Or popcorn. You can invite me over too 😉
15. Go to bed early but make a ritual of it – shower, turn off all electrical devices, cleanse/tone/moisturise, read a book, journal, maybe do some bed-time yoga then fall into bed.
16. Alternatively, if you are up for it, organise a night out with friends who make you feel good. Or a brunch/lunch/afternoon tea. Pick people who make you smile, laugh and feel great about life. Not those friends who make you feel inferior, like you don’t quite stack up and don’t really fit. Nope.
17. Do 10 minutes of yoga in your underwear at home. Trust me.
18. Write a post card to a friend overseas. Even if they are originally from your town, they will smile when they receive a touristy post-card, and will appreciate the sentiment.
19. Treat yourself to a bunch of bright & beautiful flowers.
20. Pull that book you have read dozens of times off the shelf and re-read.
21. Take three deep breaths and sigh loudly on each exhale. Feel your shoulders relax as you do so.
22. Book a massage or a restorative yoga session. Something passive for your body that will leave you feeling good, and help relieve some physical tension.
At the end of the day, try to remember that everything passes eventually – the clouds make way for the sun and the waves calm. This too shall pass, you just need to take it one breath at a time.
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.” ~ Albert Einstein
I’m going to take my own advice now and wash my hair, paint my nails, do some yoga and make popcorn. Probably not in that order.