Self-care involves taking intentional steps in our lives to create balance and harmony. It means being aware of what we need and seeking it out. It's taking radical responsibility and saying yes to self-nurturing and kindness. Self-care is not only for personal transformation and restoration. It also fills our love and energy tanks so we have more to give in our relationships.
1) Schedule resets.
Resets are times we take throughout our life to check in with our needs and then meet them. They keep us connected with what our body is telling us and our mind from reaching burnout. It’s important to have small resets during the day (5-15 minutes long), medium resets during the weekends or days off (lasting 2-4 hours), and large resets (lasting a day or more). Some examples:
Small resets: sip some tea, go for a quick walk, do some. Medium resets: Hike, nap, read, unplug from technology, get a massage, engage in your hobby Large resets: Road trip, day at the spa, vacation.
2) Bookend your days with consistency. Routines help us feel grounded and create a sense of safety and predictably at home.
3) Gratitude is the highest energy state. We are the most inspired, motivated, and happy in this mode. It keeps us operating out of an abundance mentality (I have all that I need to move forward and be satisfied) versus a scarcity mentality (there’s not enough success/love/opportunity/money/creativity/etc for me). Keep a gratitude journal or wall somewhere in your home. Add to and look at it daily.
4) Get up earlier. Give yourself the gift of waking up slowly and filling up mentally and physically before the rest of the house is awake. Use this time to plan, meditate, write, do yoga, or go for a walk.
5) Move away from a dieting mindset and shift to a gentler mindset that might work better when it comes to the way you relate to food. Try out some new mantras including,“I fill my body with nutrient-dense foods,” “I eat slowly and mindfully,” and “I can depend on myself to eat when I’m truly hungry and stop when I’m satiated.” Speak these over yourself until they become true.
6) Protect your time for sleeping. Create a consistent bedtime routine for yourself each night and put yourself “to bed” as you would do for a small child. Lower the lights, drink something warm, turn off electronics, and do some stretching. Read something that doesn’t take much thinking. These are all queues that your mind and body are looking for in order to settle in and rest.
7) Be intentional about creating a social support network that nurtures true relational connection. Surround yourself with people you can ask for help from at any time and who you can be your most authentic, vulnerable self.
8) Be aware of how food and drinks affect you, in particular alcohol, coffee, and sugar. Sugar can spike moods due to the rise in blood sugar levels and it’s often followed by a crash that can mimic depressive symptoms. Sugar also interacts with the neurotransmitter serotonin which controls and stabilizes our mood. Be vigilant of caffeine if you have a propensity toward anxiety or if you have trouble sleeping, as it can stay in our system for 12-24 hours. Caffeine overuse can also lead to adrenal fatigue, which creates a cycle of dependence on caffeine.
9) Explore faith and spirituality. Be open to exploring and asking questions about the great mysteries of life. Many people have suffered hurt by being a part of a church in their past. Explore the idea of what forgiveness of these wounds could mean for your life. Church communities can be an impactful part of our support system and prayer can lead to answers and connection we might not otherwise have.
10) Move your body. Research shows exercise can be just as effective as antidepressants. Exercise releases stress our body wasn't designed to carry and facilitates deep breathing that calms our brain and vagus nerve. Exercise also gives us energy, with the paradox of expending energy to create energy.