I was speaking with one on my coaching clients the other day. In the midst of making some career changes, she shared with me how she was feeling anxious, frazzled, and extremely tired. We started talking about what she could do to minimize these feelings, ways to practice self-care in which she could ground, nurture, and care for herself when things around her are less than certain.
It got me thinking how many of us are experiencing much of the same anxiety, overwhelm, and exhaustion these days – it’s so much more the norm, for so many people. Technology and innovation have enabled us to do more and be more – and we’re grateful for it. However, being able to schedule our days from dusk till dawn with events, obligations, errands, work, and family has resulted in an unintended consequence – we end up neglecting ourselves, believing that everything else must come first.
Our physical, mental, and emotional health is suffering. Depression, anxiety, attention-deficit disorders, overwhelm, extreme exhaustion, and burn out are all more prevalent today than ever before. In our quest to do more and be more we take for granted the very things we need to cope with everyday life – a healthy body, mind, and spirit.
We are not robots, able to do the same repetitive actions at dizzying speeds with maximum efficiency. We are human beings, and we are meant to rest.
Whatever you may be doing today, I encourage you to take a moment and stop. Take a deep breath, exhale slowly, and consider the following five ways you, too, can practice self-care. These are my go-to strategies to keep the anxiety, overwhelm, and exhaustion at bay. So, I can share my best self with the world, each and every day.
Step 1: Journaling
Make time to write. By hand. I know, I know – handwriting is so old fashion. However, there is a lot of wisdom in being old fashion sometimes. In the case of journaling, the physical act of taking thoughts from your head and transferring them onto paper creates an extra special connection with your brain, which can serve as both anchor and/or release for your emotions.
Got so much going on in your head that you don’t even know where to start? Getting all those jumbled thoughts out of your head and onto paper can actually help clear your mind, so you can focus.
Feeling overwhelmed by negative thoughts and/or feelings? By physically writing positive phrases with intention, such as affirmations, you can actually help anchor those positive thoughts in your mind and change your mood.
Step 2: Creativity
Creativity feeds the soul. Thus, the power of tapping into your own, unique creativity is truly magical.
You don’t have to be a professional artist. In fact, you don’t have to be an artist at all. Though creativity can be art, it doesn’t have to be. Cooking, dancing, pottery making, music, glassblowing, writing, gardening, acting, shooting photos/videos, sewing, carpentry, and singing are all forms of creativity, too.
Whatever form of creativity you choose, and however you choose to pursue it, the most important thing is to give yourself a “create date,” a specific time (or times) each week that you allow yourself to be creative. Book it into your schedule. Make it non-negotiable. It doesn’t have to be a solo thing, either. If you prefer to do creative work in a group setting, take a class.
If art is your thing, go to your local art supply shop and have a look around. While browsing through all the pencils, markers, stamps, papers, etc., see what speaks to you. If you feel pulled towards painting, buy a canvas – it doesn’t have to be large. Get yourself some paint in the medium you are drawn to (acrylic, watercolor, or oil) and any other necessary supplies. Now, you’re ready…
When your ‘create date’ comes around, just start painting. Let yourself be free to do whatever comes to mind. For a deeper experience, I’d also encourage you to try painting with your non-dominant hand. Why? Because it allows you to release control. Try painting one whole session with your dominant hand and the next with your non-dominant hand. I’ve done this myself and found that it helps both to connect me to the love that resides within my soul, as well as to activate the ‘feeling good’ vibration.
By inviting creativity into your life as a method of self-care, you, too, can spark the love and positivity you need to ignite a better you, and a better world, one person at a time.
Step 3: Meditation
Does the word ‘meditation’ put you off? If so, you can think of it as ‘quiet time.’ Whatever word or phrase you choose to use to describe the time you take each day to be with yourself, be sure to do it – it’s important – even if you can only manage five minutes.
I’d suggest finding a quiet, comfortable spot in your home. Sit on the floor, a cushion, or, on a chair. Or, lie down if that works better for you. Try spending your allotted time in silence. Or, if that’s too much, play some soft music, or listen to a guided meditation. Figure out what works for you – there’s no wrong way to do it. The important thing is to let go of the thoughts clogging your brain so you can forge a more solid connection with yourself.
I’ve been meditating now for over 18 years and it’s one of my favorite self-care practices. I love starting my day in silence. It sets the tone and energy for my day ahead by helping me to feel more grounded, centered, and confident.
For those of you who already meditate – good for you! Consider this a friendly reminder to keep on, keeping on. Because sometimes we get caught up and don’t make the time – it even happens to me.
For meditation/quiet time newbies – give it a try! You CAN do it. And, it WILL make a difference.
Step 4: Exercise
Whether you like to dance, walk, run, or go to the gym. Whether you do yoga, Pilates, cross fit, F45, or, if boot camp is your thing. In whichever way you like to do it – move…your…body…
Movement is one of the best self-care practices you can do for yourself. We all know it’s good for us physically, in terms of weight management, and to keep our heart and lungs healthy. Equally important, however, are the benefits to our mental health and emotional well-being. Regular exercise stimulates the release of neurotransmitters such as endorphins, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, all of which have been shown to increase energy levels, improve mood, and regulate sleep, among other benefits.
So, in addition to changing our body, exercise also changes our energy. Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or a bit out of sorts, try moving your body, even if you only have the energy for a chair dance.
Step 5: Bodywork
The human body is made of energy. Thus, as energetic beings, in order to achieve a balanced body, mind, and spirit, we need to find ways to manage the energy bouncing around under our skin.
According to certain philosophies, pain and discomfort are the result of stuck, stagnant energy focused in certain areas within the body. Practices such as massage, acupuncture, reiki, physiotherapy, and chiropractor services, can all be used to loosen and move the stuck, stagnant energy, so that balance can be restored.
Of course, not every practice will work for everyone. And, not every practice will work for every ailment. However, by regularly using these practices, whether in isolation or in combination, you’ll be able to heal your body, while forging a deeper connection with your soul.
I want you to shine your brightest, each and every day. So, try these five methods of practicing self-care, and you’ll be on your way to a calmer, less stressed, more focused, and more positive you, in no time.