The concept of taking care of one’s self is present in all of us, fervent like a seed of nourishment, deeply embedded into the fabric of our very being. It is there from the first moment that we breathe air into our lungs and proceed to let out a full-throttled bellow, demanding prompt attention. But when the seed becomes buried under the weight of the world’s responsibilities, showing up and taking care of yourself becomes an abstract intention, one not within reach. The idea of showing up is quite simple and one that predates the current culture’s preoccupation with mindfulness. Essentially, honoring your commitments to yourself and being present, especially when it’s hard, is the essence of taking better care of yourself. And it doesn’t have to be anything complex or grueling; consistently applying a few simple habits every day can be incredibly transformative.
In the process of showing up for our children, spouses, aging parents, friends and co-workers, we nonchalantly manage to diminish our own needs and completely miss the slow erosion of our core identity.
1) Move your body: This has to be the most important factor for my well-being. The more consistently I show up for my physical health, the stronger my mental and spiritual health grows. Getting to the gym would be stellar but lately it’s highly improbable. So instead on days when everything is going haywire, I commit to my mat and use a foam roller for the practice of self-myofascial release, which essentially means to stretch your muscles out until everything turns to jelly. It’s the most brilliant way to release tension and tightness from your body and my mind feels blissfully mushed afterwards as well.
2) Write your world: There is a unique commitment that forms within yourself when you write. Whether it’s bullet-journaling, blogging or writing that novella, creating a picture with words has immeasurable benefits. Even if you simply write a one sentence intention at the beginning of the day, it’s a written promise that will resonate.
3) Take back your time: One of the biggest time-sucks is your use of social media. When I deleted Facebook, Instagram and Twitter from my phone, I magically found myself a lot less vested in my online world and much more mindful of the things happening around me. Even if you’re skeptical about how much you’re being influenced by social media, limit the amount of time and energy you’re putting into your online usage and relationships.
4) Pause your mind: Daily meditation of just a few minutes a day can provide mental clarity and insight for a healthier version of ourselves. Sometimes I pray, other times I use an app (Headspace) to go through a few minutes of guided thinking. There is a wondrous power (which I have only seen fleetingly) in stopping your thoughts and being still in the present moment. It’s worth exploring for as much time that you can allot.
5) Open your heart: Sometimes there can be a lot of subtle cognitive distortions taking place in your mind without you being aware. I’ve had to work really hard to train my brain to think in a way that serves me. Pessimistic thoughts and harboring negativity simply fuels more gross injustice. By choosing to see things in a positive light, you can heal your heart from the ravages of age. Sometimes it’s factually incorrect but if it serves the purpose of making you and those around you happy, always chose hope and optimism.