Now that the holidays and all that partying are past us, we are making time for the things that help us to reflect and to focus. A new year means a new start: a reset before the reminders, notifications and alarms go off. Then it’s off we go — consumed by sending messages, hooked on browsing the internet, keeping up with social media, absorbing the 24 hour news cycle. All of this might happen before and/or after juggling the demands of work and family. Welcome to modern life.
A recent study has found we are spending too much time on our devices. No one need tell us that we are hyperconnected. We all feel that sense of constant urgency of the 24/7 lives we lead. We do a lot but at what price? With the ever-increasing speed of daily life we forget to disengage, take the time in our day for a little quiet to replenish the well, so to speak. Self-care is a large part of what’s missing in the lives of people who are very busy and stressed.
There’s been a lot of talk about the benefits of self-care. What is it? In essence, self-care is the mindful taking of time to pay attention to you — not in a narcissistic way, but in a way that’s protective of your own well-being. What does self-care look like? Here are six simple ways to put self-care into practice on a daily, or at the least, a weekly basis that goes a long way to managing stress and, most importantly, to living your best life.
Since ancient times philosophers understood the importance of “knowing thyself.” Today that means not only getting to know who you are, but also knowing your limitations. Why? So that you can recognize the moment you are doing too much. Knowing when to slow down is imperative when we are so often running full steam. To figure out your limits is a welcome shift as it helps to shed patterns that don’t serve you and allows you to concentrate on positive, healthy choices. Clearing the way for good habits creates clarity in mind and body, elevating you to a higher, more peaceful state.
Morning meditation or a bedtime ritual are wonderful tools for self-care. But decompressing is not just for the beginning and end of day. Don’t wait. Throughout your day, every day, take the time to catch your breath, reset your mind. Be still. The mind needs to rest and have periods of calm. Putting this into practice is not always easy, but the art of disconnecting is essential for living a more mindful life. Taking the time to integrate small/mini breaks helps to refresh your mind and your body, too. Take a brief walk, make a cup of tea, breathe deeply, and/or visualize loved ones, a special memory, a favorite place… These are the pauses the brain and the spirit need.
Find Your Pleasure
Identify what you enjoy to do. Figure out what’s fun for you and integrate it into your day or at least your week. Make it a habit to do or plan something that gives you pleasure that you look forward to. It can be as simple as buying weekly flowers on a Friday as a reward for a week well lived and enjoying their presence in your home. Consistency matters. What we do every day counts more than what we do only once in a while. Make sure to carve out some “happy” space in your life.
Feed Your Spirit
Self-care means finding out what feeds your spiritual self. The good news: there’s no wrong answer! It is whatever feels right and inspires you. Stand in the sunlight, sit like Buddha, honor the rhythms of Mother Nature. Whether it’s meditation or prayer, making spirituality a priority, no matter how busy you are, awakens inner vibrations and peacefulness. It lets you discover wisdom and compassion; it’ll focus your mind, open your heart and sometimes surprise you with insight. Making space in your life for your own personal spirituality beautifully imbues the day-to-day with the sacred and profound.
A great consequence of feeding one’s spirit is the inevitable direction the spiritual path takes towards giving thanks. When we give thanks for all we have, we open the floodgates of connection to ourselves, and to others. The practice of gratitude every single day teaches us to love what we already have. And when we do that, something magical happens: we find that there’s more to come and then some.
All you need is love. In the end, self-care means taking the time out of daily life to love yourself because there is only one person who knows you well enough to do that, and that is YOU! Be love!