Self-care is about taking action to preserve one’s bodily and mental health. Quite simply, we only have one body and one mind, so it’s essential that we put these things first in life, no?
Except it’s rarely that simple. Other things like, well, life get in the way and sometimes self care feels out of reach or oddly selfish.
That’s backwards, though. Can we agree that self-care is not self-indulgent, or at all an irresponsible use of time? We can? Great. We have a responsibility to care for ourselves.
Without caring for ourselves we can hardly care for others, so if you’re finding yourself stressed, burnt out, or just want to keep up a healthy practice, you’ve come to the right place. These are 9 of my favorite self-care routines and ideas to make it enjoyable and easy.
I find, to take up a new habit, it’s best if I make it part of a consistent daily routine – one with payoff. For example, I can’t take my phone off of airplane mode or start doing work until I’ve done my daily meditation and journaling. That way, I set the tone for my day without letting anything steal my attention away or change the course before I’ve even begun.
We can change our habits by changing the routine. So if you find you have room for improvement with your AM routine, insert something consistent like meditation and journaling before you begin your day.
Commit to 7 Days of Meditation
Committing to a lifetime of meditation might feel excessive, but you can do seven days of meditation, at just 10+ minutes per day, right? Anyone can find ten minutes, and if you don’t have that, then it’s worth taking a hard look at why not.
It might feel pointless at first, and your mind will likely wander, which is normal and part of meditation. It’s the practice that gives you results, and 7 days is a gentle introduction. You can sign up for free here.
Read or Listen to Personal Development Books
The older I get, the less I realize I know, and the more I’ve gotten into self-help/personal development books. They’re often written by successful authors, public speakers, psychologists, and specialists who have spent a lot more time studying human behavior than I have.
If I have one big takeaway from each read (or listen), then I feel it was worth the time and attention. You can find my favorite list of self-help books here.
Immerse Yourself in Learning a New Skill
Novelty releases endorphins in the brain, our body’s natural opiate. You also feel it after dancing, exercising, sex, and many other healthy activities. New projects can put us in a flow state and help us get that pleasurable rush.
The universal experience of flow, when we’re deep into a project and fully immersed into it, often makes up some of the best moments of our lives. Plus, learning a skill you’ve always wanted to learn builds up self-esteem and character.
I have a list in this post of some of the best resources for learning new skills for free or cheap.
Forest Bathing – shinrin-yoku
It wasn’t that long ago that we lived fully outside, surviving off of what the land provided, and living in harmony with it as hunter-gatherers. We have spent much more time living in that way – nearly 2 million years – than we do now indoors. It’s estimated that these days we spend 93% of our time indoors, which isn’t all that healthy.
Forest bathing is about spending time immersed in the outdoors, almost becoming your environment. It’s a calming meditation that you can do anywhere natural, from a forest to a desert to your backyard.
A 2016 study found that forest bathing “significantly reduced pulse rate and significantly increased the score for vigor and decreased the scores for depression, fatigue, anxiety, and confusion”. To put it simply: We need time in Mother Nature.
Learn to Love Yourself
Self-love, like self-care, is an ongoing practice that takes time and patience. At least, it has for me.
However after 8 years of traveling solo, I’ve spent a lot of time alone, and that has meant learning how to love myself and welcome that solo time. This deserves its own post, which you can read more about here and see practiced in the video below.
Care for Your Body
Staying active and eating healthy are two of the most important things to me, and yet when I’m super busy, they often take a back seat.
But I can’t deny I feel my best when I’m feeling fit and healthy, so in isolation, I commit to doubling down on these important aspects of having a long, happy life.
Here’s a list of some of my favorite free workouts and some healthy living ideas in the video below:
Check Out of Social Media and Keep Your Phone on Silent
In times of stress, social media makes it all much, much worse. Over the past year, I’ve deleted the news app from my phone and homepage of Google, kept the Facebook app off my phone, and gone long periods of time without the Instagram app, too.
I also keep my phone on silent, without even vibration, most of the time. This not only helps tremendously with productivity, but also helps me keep my thoughts my own. I don’t want nor need excessive input, which has been shown to increase stress and decrease feelings of personal power and efficacy. This helps us consciously choose when and how we wish to connect with others. It gives us our personal power back.
Create something with no end goal. Paint, write, or garden just because you want to – because it feels good to make things. It took a forced slowdown for me to realize how important this is. Creating things just because you want to, rather than for any kind of outside approval, is art in its purest form. And it feels damn good.
However you wish to interpret ‘make art’ is perfect. Just do it.
Let Personal Hygiene Be More Exciting
I lived in Taipei in 2007. Back then, it cost about $3 to get one’s hair washed, massaged, and perfectly cleansed at a salon. I don’t know about you, but I go into a state of bliss when having my head massaged. If I were a cat, I would surely purr.
Then I realized: Hey, I can do this to myself! I can make any shower, lotion application session, tooth brushing moment, or facial mask into a luxurious event just by giving it all of my attention and intention. I take my time with the hair washing, I massage my lotion in, and I let it be enjoyable. This really only adds 10 or so minutes to my routine but makes all the difference in how I experience it.
I’m just going to say it – self-care is incomplete without giving attention to our body’s power center – to the origin of all life. Having a better relationship with our yonis (this is the only acceptable word I can find for ‘vagina’), means more personal power, self-efficacy, and better relationships. It seems like a strong promise, and it is, because this is one of the most important self-care rituals you can have.
Yoni yoga with the yoni egg, a small jade egg that you insert, yes, into your yoni, can be incredibly healing. I find the whole ritual to be empowering beyond almost anything else I’ve tried. You can learn much more here from Layla Martin, whom I trust completely.
I hope these self care ideas introduced you to something new or helped you find a practice you hadn’t thought of before. Whether we’re on the go or stuck in one place, making time for self care can be life-changing in the best of ways.