I’ve been thinking a lot lately about proper self-care, since I’ve legit been running myself into the ground the last few months. Self-care is so super important and also so easy to overlook, push to the side, or save for another day. But, it’s time we start listening to our bodies and stop putting off things that can’t really wait. Is it really necessary to hit pure exhaustion before we’re like…okay, okay, I hear you. I’ll slow down? As usual, the choice is ours. And, for me, I feel empowered knowing that the choice to change is mine.
I have my go-to self-care activities, but when you do the same things all the time, sometimes they begin to feel like to-dos rather than being part of a solid self-care routine. So, also something to keep in mind when brainstorming what you’d like your self-care routine to look like.
Let’s brainstorm, shall we? These are my thoughts on the best self-care methods, and I’d love to hear your ideas, as I know everyone is different.
1. Writing – Freestyle or Structured
By freestyle, I mean just writing whatever is on your mind and your heart. Because sometimes self-care means letting go of the things that are weighing you down. And sometimes you just have to get it all out to feel better.
And by structured, I am referring to having a set few items you write about every day. For probably 8 months or so last year, I wrote out my morning routine followed by my “morning feels” as I liked to call them. Just writing down individual words, along with a few sentence, about where my mind was at and what I was feeling. Then every evening I’d do the same by writing out my “evening feels”. You can check out my Alignment Time post for more on what that looked like for me.
I also tried a different structure that included writing out what I was grateful + thankful for, positive affirmations, and my desires – the things I give thanks for before receiving them. You know, the things you desire/want in life, but don’t yet have – you give thanks for them as if you already have them. Make sense? I also wrote down any negative thoughts I was having, and then I practiced writing the thoughts in a positive light, in order to change how I was feeling.
For me, writing helps me re-group and re-center, so that I can see what it is I am in need of.
2. Quiet Coffee Time
I take anywhere from 20 minutes to about 1½ hours (or more!) each morning to just sit quietly with myself and my thoughts. Sometimes my thoughts inspire me to write (like above), sometimes I take inspired action and write a blog post, sometimes I play on my phone and then get irritated for wasting time (sound familiar?), and then sometimes I legitimately just sit quietly and think – perhaps with the lights off and a candle lit.
Taking this time every morning is essential to my health and well-being. It’s time to slow down, take a breath, and just be. And let me tell you, it’s the best! My favorite is during weekday mornings when it’s just before 6am and it’s perfectly silent – the best time of day!
3. Working Out
My workouts are my everything! They are just as much for my mind as they are for my physical body and health. For the last year, I have been entirely consistent with my workouts, unless I was injured (I tweaked my neck a few times and had/have an aching thigh or IT band). For about the first 6 months of last year, I was creating my own workouts using Fitness Blender videos. But then I got smart and decided to buy their workout programs and whew-wee are they amazing and challenging! I’ve seen good results without a doubt, and know I’d see better results if I focused more on eating properly. Which brings me to my next self-care item.
4. Eating Healthy
I undoubtedly eat better than I had been for a while. I no longer eat some type of sweet every day – in fact, I rarely eat sweets at all. And I feel so much better not having a “sugar belly” all the time – such a blah feeling.
I’ve been a pescatarian for about 6 years now, and it works well for me. I could certainly stand to eat more food, but a couple things kind of stand in my way (along with some excuses, let’s be real). I don’t restrict calories, I don’t diet, I don’t follow trends or do this or that. I simply eat real food, and I’m mindful of what I put in my body. And because I’m mindful, I can absolutely tell the difference when I deviate from my normal eating. I’ve been wanting to track my macros out of curiosity, but I might save that for when I’m able to prep myself some better meals and healthy snacks.
And yes, eating healthy is a form of self-care, in my humble opinion. Sure, it’s not a massage or a 10-minute meditation, but it’s certainly just as important, if not more-so.
Ah yes, reading – one of my favorite things to do, but one that I don’t do nearly enough. I love a good non-fiction book, but there’s nothing quiet like getting lost in the alternate world of a novel. And I haven’t read a novel in almost a year, which is crrrazy! I’ve been reading books more along the lines of self-improvement and my mind has been soaking up the good info. As of late, I’ve really been trying to slow down and allow myself the time to read. For me, it’s one of my top self-care activities.
6. Yoga + Meditation
By now, I’m sure you know I LOVE yoga, and that I’m training to be a certified instructor come April. Yayyyy! Have I ever mentioned that my training is being held in Greece?! And that I’m SO EXCITED! Lol, I’m kidding – I know I’ve told you about it 100 times already.
But yes, yoga is where I find my peace and balance. When I am feeling overwhelmed, stressed, tired, exhausted, sad, hurt, upset, grateful, happy, joyful, thankful– any feeling at all – yoga is my spot. I began my yoga journey with kundalini yoga back some 11 years ago, and I’ve since come to love all different types. While I’m not an advanced yogi by any means, I have confidence my continued practice and yoga teacher training will lead me there. And I’m super looking forward to the journey!
In addition to regular yoga practice as a form of self-care, I also love meditation. I have an active, wandering mind, so it can be a challenge. But I found that repeating a mantra in my head helps to keep me centered and focused. Sometimes I’ll say “self” when I inhale and “love” when I exhale. It’s nice to have a mantra to keep coming back to when you find that your mind has wander off somewhere into the abyss.
7. Walks in Nature
When I lived in Maryland I had so many favorite spots where I could go take a walk, but here in Michigan, I’m down to one or two. I love being in nature – it’s serene, quiet, open, and peaceful – I can just breathe easier. When I’ve had a long day, it’s like I can’t get to my walking spot fast enough. My walking place here is a completely wide open trail, and if I’m lucky, there are very few people around. I don’t like to be crowded or side-stepping people while I’m trying to enjoy a peaceful walk.
While I’m walking, I typically listen to music, maybe (but rarely) a podcast, or I just listen to nature and focus on my breathing. Since winter in Michigan is 800 years long, I have to go without my walks for quite some time, so I’m really looking forward to springtime when it’s daylight and I can go again after work. I don’t mind walking in the cold, I oftentimes find it refreshing, but my cutoff is about 35 degrees – anything lower than that is a no-go, or if it’s real windy.
I think that’s about all for my current self-care options, but I’d sure love to add some others into the mix. So, let’s talk about that for a moment – here’s what I’d like to add:
- Therapeutic Massages
- Candlelit Baths
- Travel – I’d love to take a few solo trips.
- Watching Comedies – Laughing is the best!
For now, this is all that comes to mind, but I’m sure I can think up plenty more. Time to start tracking AND doing!!
Oh, and I also want to take a second to mention music. It’s my go-to ALL the time really. There are just so many options to match your mood, you know? Sometimes if I want to listen to music, but I don’t want all the memories that can come with music, I simply listen to a relaxing station on Pandora. I love relaxing music without words if I’m just trying to be in the moment and rejuvenate.
Okay, loves – I think that sums it up for me! Feel free to share your go-to forms of self-care – I’d love to hear about them! And above all else, take the time to care for yourself! It’s so necessary and you deserve it.