15 Feb PRACTICING SELF CARE
We spend so much of our lives thinking about the needs of others that very, very often our needs are overlooked. With that in mind I’ve put together a list of 20 ways to look after yourself that cost nothing (or very little).
Take a look at the list and see what resonates with you, try and make new habits from one or two items from the list, perform each act that you choose with reverence because it is a gift to yourself, a gift of self-care and a gift of self love.
1 – Lemon Water
Drinking a glass of warm lemon water first thing upon waking in the morning is a breath freshener, helps with absorption of the good vitamins at breakfast, boosts your immune system, reduces inflammation and aids in weight loss.
2 – Take a cold shower
As frightening as this may appear at first glance, starting your day with a cold shower is an amazing gift of Self-Care. The key to this is the ritual. Don’t look at it as a punishment but rather as a delightful gift to yourself. Start by dry brushing your entire body with a natural brush or glove, moving in upward strokes from the feet towards the heart, this not only removes the dead skin cells but it also stimulates lymph and has the added benefit of desensitising the skin before the cold water hits! Next use a natural oil (almond, grapeseed, avocado or even coconut oil) and cover the entire body. I like to think of this as a wonderful meditation on the body. The oil will of course moisturise the body but it also provides a layer of protection before the cold shower. Finally, step into the shower and immerse yourself in the cold water. Begin with the extremities and gradually the entire body. Avoid the thighs and forehead from direct contact with the water. This entire ritual shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes from start to finish. Does the idea of a cold shower scare you? Try it and after a few days you will notice that the benefits far outweigh the fears. As the weather warms up this is the perfect time to try the Ishnaan cold shower!
3 – Laugh
When laughter is shared, it binds people together and increases happiness and intimacy. Laughter triggers healthy physical changes in the body such as strengthening your immune system, boosting your energy, diminishing pain, and protecting you from the damaging effects of stress. Laughter is completely free and can be done anytime, anywhere. So do it on your own, do it with a friend, do it any way you like, just be sure to LAUGH every day!
4 – Meditate
Meditation can be as quick as 3 minutes in the morning or hours long anytime during the day, it is easy to tailor it into your needs and schedule. There have recently been numerous studies into the scientific benefits of Meditation most notably a Harvard study showed that after 8 weeks of meditation the effects on the brain were still visible even when the subject was not meditating! There is no doubt that taking the time to focus the mind and be still changes your entire day, week and life. There are many different forms of meditation and a good way to get started is through guided meditations, when you’re new to meditation the thought of ‘quieting’ the mind is a monumental challenge but this becomes much easier when you allow an experienced guide to gently lead you. A friend recently introduced me to a wonderful meditation app called – insight timer. If you’ve never meditated before and don’t know of a local centre that provides meditation, this is a great place to start. Right here in the Lowveld we have the Brahma Kumari organisation, they offer free meditation courses. We also incorporate meditation into our yoga practice, you can join a class and discover the beauty of meditation for yourself. Take the plunge and do it, take 3 minutes or an hour, switch your phone off and give yourself the gift of meditation.
5 – Practice Gratitude
Before you step out of bed each morning, find at least one thing to be grateful for. This simple excercise infuses each day with positivity and possibility.
6 – Move your Body
Start your day with some exercise, get into the habit of moving your body EVERY day. There is no right way or wrong way to exercise, you need to find the thing you love to do and that’s the right way for you. Exercise should NOT be a punishment, it should be a pleasure. I hate exercise, I always have. School sports were my worst nightmare, I exhausted every excuse under the sun to avoid it completely. However, I knew I needed to exercise so I just kept going until eventually in my early 20’s I found yoga, now you can’t keep me off the mat! But, that doesn’t mean yoga is for you, maybe you love to run, ride a bike, climb a mountain, walk – whatever excites you, that is what you should do. Our bodies were not designed to sit on sofas, behind desks, drive cars and be largely inactive and yet that is what they mostly are. Our bodies were designed to move. Go to the gym, go for a walk, take a swim, climb a mountain, try a yoga class! Keep looking until you find a way to move your body that makes your soul shine! Your body will thank you!
7 – Play
We all know how important it is for children to play but we forget that children are little humans and, well, we’re big humans. Play is as important for adults as it is for children. The other day I played ‘dodge the ball on the trampoline’ with my son. Begrudgingly at first because of all the important things that needed to be dealt with. After a few minutes I was breathless and laughing and having FUN. I felt great for the rest of the afternoon, energized and alive… no 3pm coffee could give me energy boost that 10 minutes of playtime did! Go to the park, swing, go down a slide – maybe get stuck halfway! Build a sandcastle, spin round and round in your garden, actually go down the slides at the water park, do something silly and play!
8 – News Detox
How many of you wake up and switch on the news? Start the day with all the death, drama and destruction of the world? In the car listening again and again to the same bad news and then going online and continuing to follow the news! How about listening instead to some uplifting and inspiring music? Or nothing at all? Make this small change for YOU!
9 – Dance
Put on your favorite track, kick off your shoes, shake out your hair and let go! In your living room, in the kitchen, in the garden. Alone or with someone else! Just dance! I read once that there are many paths to happiness but none quite so direct as DANCING!
10 – Give yourself something beautiful
Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you! Spoil yourself with a bouquet of flowers or those earrings you saw? Make yourself feel really special, treat yourself, you’re worth it. When you stop waiting for someone else to see the value in appreciating you and you begin to value and appreciate yourself you will understand that you deserve to spoil yourself! So do it, do it today. Buy yourself a beautiful bouquet of your favorite flowers and have a visual reminder of how amazing you are.
11 – It’s no secret that the majority of us are harder on ourselves than on anyone else.
Have you ever stopped and observed the dialogue that you have with yourself? Ask yourself this question: Would I remain friends with someone who speaks to me in real life the way I speak to myself? If the answer is no, do something about it! Begin to think with awareness – watch your thoughts and treat yourself as you would your best friend.
12 – Connect with someone who lifts your spirits that you’ve been meaning to contact but just haven’t made time for.
We all have that person who just gets us but isn’t in our everyday lives. That person we keep meaning to call/visit/email but never quite get there. Make the time because catching up with someone important is a great act of self care.
13 – If it isn’t useful or beautiful, get rid of it!
We’ve all got ‘stuff’ that we don’t need! Wardrobes overflowing with clothes we no longer use, drawers with bit and pieces that we ‘might need one day’ broken stuff, useless stuff and ‘stuff’ that we just don’t like. Get rid of it! Take everything out of your wardrobe and lay it on your bed. Return it to your wardrobe one item at a time. Make two piles, one for items that you no longer wear but are still in good enough shape to give to charity and one for items that are no longer wearable. Be brutal. Be honest. Return only those things to the wardrobe that you genuinely wear! Then do the same with your bedside drawer, the junk drawer and slowly clear your space of clutter. As you begin to clear the physical clutter from your home notice how much lighter you begin to feel. Clutter in your home creates clutter in your mind. Do it today, start with something small and continue until you are left only with that which is useful or you believe to be beautiful!
14 – Read a book
Escape in a novel, grow your mind with self help, learn something new! Whatever it is that you love to read, pick up a book, make a cup of tea and curl up with a good book!
15 – Me Time
One thing we very rarely do is to sit completely on our own without any phones, tablets or computers to distract us. There are many ways to do this, sit in the garden, take a walk or Why not make a cup of tea and sit quietly on your own, switch your phone to airplane mode and set the alarm for 5 or 10 minutes and take that time to enjoy your tea or coffee, drinking it consciously and with intent. Watch your thoughts but don’t direct them, allow your mind to drift whimsically. Then step back into the world. Refreshed, revitalized and ready to start again.
16 – Smile
Because smiling immediately lifts your spirits… and it’s contagious! Smile and the world smiles with you!
17 – Friends
Make time to spend quality time with the people who make you laugh, with the people who feed your soul. The people who encourage you to move out of your comfort zone, who support you when you fall and the people who revel in your successes. Nurture your soul with good friends.
18 – Nourish
Nourish your body with fresh, wholesome food. Don’t diet, don’t restrict any food groups, don’t follow fads. We each know what our body craves, keep it simple, keep it clean and love, honour and respect your body.
19 – Be Original
Don’t follow the herd. Don’t do it because it’s expected of you. Don’t do it because everyone else is doing it. You are the author of your story, make it interesting, make it original, make it fun, make it yours!