There are a plethora of self care ideas floating around the web. These selfcare tips will help make self care a more realistic, attainable, and manageable practice that will go well beyond the tranquil spa.
Days before the school buses started moving down the hill of my street, I tried to make the necessary shift in the family schedule to ensure a smooth transition. And guess what?!? I prepared my son’s lunch, made breakfast for the boys, woke my sons up at the time I designated, dropped the eldest off at middle school without a hiccup. But then it hit me, I completely skipped my morning routine. There was no steeping of tea, no journaling, no working out, no moment to gather myself. I had planned everything around my eldest, but neglected to include me in the mix. AAARGH. This keeps happening.
If you have ever looked up and realized you weren’t a part of your schedule, I pray this blog post on incorporating self care helps.
As the nearly 15 million school aged children prepare to start school again, it is easy to place yourself on the back burner. Clearly I did. Just as soon as I realized my kid was safe at school, my energy shifted and I realized I did not properly plan for my own needs. I am sure I'm not the only one. I think it is in our nature to ensure the safety, wellbeing, and enjoyment our kids are taken care of (especially during these crazy COVID times). Once that is confirmed, we can shift our energies to other places.
My focus shifted directly to my morning routine because, but at the end of the day I am spent and trying to play catch up so things don’t unnecessarily spill over to the next day (even though some things do roll over to the next day). I quickly decided I needed to wake up earlier which also meant I needed to go to bed earlier. But how, sis?!?
When increasing the time for myself became one of my priorities, I had to shift my thinking toward being worthy of opportunities to pour into myself. I was longing to have more time for me, so I had to release the guilt, shame, and excuses (YES, excuses) and decide I was going to do me. That also meant I had to release some of the things that were keeping me in bondage. Things like…
- Having to clean the entire downstairs every night
- Having empty clothes baskets
- Binge watching the latest show
- Working after hours
- Busyness is worthiness
- Earning my keep as I was not working a traditional job but pursuing entrepreneurship instead
- Saying yes to things (even from my husband) when it did not work with my schedule
- The idea that things were happening to me instead of me being in control of my day
So, again my mind was made up, I belonged on the schedule at the top of the morning.
Once the decision was made that I belonged and didn’t need permission to put me on the schedule, it has become easier to do things that support the vision I have for myself. That vision includes being healthy in all aspects of my life. The following self-care tips are things I have actually done and/or still do. I say done because some practices shift after a season, while others are more permanent fixtures in the routine. Either way, it’s up to you to decide.
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD and author of Sacred Rest: Recover your life, renew your energy, restore your sanity describes seven areas of rest (aka self-care). I had never thought of self-care as a type of rest, but it makes perfect sense after reading her book. Not only does Dr. Dalton-Smith break down how we have picked up this load of things to do, manage, and involve with, she also shares practical tools to make it manageable and doable. She opens the book with her story of chasing her dreams which turned out to be living the burned out life (aka the storm). She states, “I’m to blame for this storm. I created it. I fueled it. I continuously recruit and pull others into it with me.”
We create the life we want with the decisions we make. I believe there are times when we should go super hard and get all the things done. I also believe there are times in which we should fill our cup. Pouring into ourselves helps us function more holistically, keeps our mind-body-spirit in alignment, and keeps us in a state of clarity. There are always difficult decisions and choosing certain paths can lead you closer to the “good life” you dream about.
Before we delve into the 5 self-care tips, let’s define the seven areas of rest (and no, no one is saying do 7 types of rest in a day, okay!?).
- There are two types of physical rest: passive rest and active rest. Passive rest is when our body sleeps to rejuvenate itself. Active rest is when we manipulate our body to remove tension from the body. Examples of active rest are participating in physical activity like yoga, stretching, meditative walks, breathing techniques, etc.
- Mental rest is when you allow the mind to release things that are no longer needed to be thought of, processed, etc. Mental rest can occur by focusing on “love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and faithfulness” (pg. 53) throughout the day instead of focusing on worrying about what will happen, regretting past decisions, and/or being discontent with a present situation.
- When we live in a way that upholds and honors our core values, desires, strengths, and weaknesses we are living emotionally authentic as outside influences are at a minimum. The moment we allow outside influencers to persuade us into doing something outside of our core values and beliefs, we are no longer in emotional harmony and are in need of emotional rest. Emotional rest resides where truth for yourself begins.
- Spiritual Rest has everything to do with the connection you have to a higher power. It’s your faith, the way you meditate, pray, journal, praise, and engage in worship.
- Social rest is when you take time to connect with those that revive you, pour into you, and accept you as you are (flaws and all).
- Sensory rest involves decreasing the use of one or more of your active senses as to give them a break to restore. A few examples include reducing noise, closing your eyes for a few moments, using paper and pencil instead of a device, etc.
- Creative rest includes creating space to do nothing but wonder and relax. This propels you to be more creative because you have rested. Great places for creative rest include places near water or other natural places like a hiking trail. (Side note: we are all creative. Creativity runs beyond art related creativity. It includes being able to innovate or do something in a unique way.)
Incorporating all seven types of rest into your daily practice may be a bit overwhelming. The following self care tips are helpful in setting yourself up for optimal success. The way to make self care stick around for longer is to do it on a smaller scale.
Self Care Tips
Self Care Tip #1 - Daily Ritual vs. Monthly, Quarterly, Yearly Events
When people say self care many immediately think about a spa day, solo vacation, brunch with friends, and other very important events that happen monthly, quarterly, and/or yearly (or even every few years). Relying on these things alone to replenish you, is like signing yourself up for burnout. Serious. So, instead, try to do something small every day at the same time of day to send the message to yourself that you are super important and deserve moments to breathe and be. A daily ritual may be to walk around your backyard with a cup or glass of tea or sit in silence in a cozy chair for a few minutes before you head to the office. Whatever it is, schedule it so you do it everyday. This will help decrease burnout, frustration, and lack of patience. So, when your kid decides to play ping pong with the peas, you simply say something like, “Those do look like tiny balls. Let’s try tasting one. Can you pop one in my mouth? Ok, now you try one.” Doing this instead of yelling and saying stop it may end with your child actually liking peas (or maybe not). If you want more examples of positive parenting, check out Destini Ann on Instagram. She is amazing and controversial. Anyway, be sure you do something simple each day at the same time.
When you have a plan and get off track (as I did during day 1 of in person school) it is easier to get right back on track because you have the foundation to work with and have made the decision to put you on the schedule.
Self Care Tip #2 - Create YOUR plan
Everyone’s self care is unique. I could give you all the things I do, but you aren’t me, right?! What works for me may not work for you. Just as what works for the next mom, may not work for you. To create your plan…
- Determine how much time you have (5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, etc.) Five minutes may be all you have and is perfect for a cup of tea. 😉
- Figure out what time of day you can incorporate self care? If your mornings are super hectic with getting kids settled and into school, saying you will incorporate self care at that time may not be the best idea. However, enjoying a scroll up and down the street while they wait at the bus stop may work.
- Map out where you will be each day of the week at that time you indicated above.
- Determine if you need to bring something with you to fully do your self care activity.
- Celebrate yourself each day you show up. Look in the mirror and say, “Thank you for choosing me” to yourself. It is such a mood booster and confidence builder.
Self Care Tip #3 - Enjoy This or That
Determine what you enjoy the most. What are your favorite low cost things you absolutely love. Is it watching sunsets? Is it viewing art? Is it hiking at the local park? Is it sipping your favorite tea? What is it? Use this brainstorming sheet to create a list of favorites and try to go through them in a week. Adding more joy to your life will work wonders.
Self Care Tip #4 - Get Curious
Our bodies give us clues all the time with aches, tension, soreness, etc. If you feel tension in your shoulders, maybe asking a partner to massage your shoulders 5 minutes before dinner may help. If your eyes are tired, take 5 minutes to close your laptop and devote to a five minute technology free activity. So, try to spend a day or so just listening to your body and paying attention to the feelings that reside. If that turns up empty, try taking Dr. Dalton-Smith’s rest quiz to see what type of rest you are in need of most. If you are into audiobooks, purchase her book as an audiobook and listen while running errands. Whatever you do, just make it what YOU want to do.
Self Care Tip #5 - Proactive Is Best
Burnout is real and most of us do not even know we are completely burned out. We beat ourselves up because we start forgetting stuff, keep having headaches, have trouble sleeping, etc. These are a few of the common signs of burnout. So, before you are in that place, go ahead and make a plan of how you can incorporate five to ten minutes into the day just for you. Now, this does not mean you will not have days where things do not go right because we all have those days. When being proactive, we will already have a plan in place as to how you might be able to honor yourself when things go left. And, when things go left that might be a sign that you need to pull back a little, check in with yourself, and proceed with caution. (Side note: Sometimes those uncomfortable emotions are ones that we need to feel and process most. It might not need fixing. Maybe there is a larger lesson to take away).
All of these self care tips have helped me remain consistent in honoring myself.
This quote by Douglas Pagels says it perfectly, “Sometimes it’s important to work for that pot of gold. But other times it’s essential to take time off and make sure your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down the rainbow.” I know you have heard that balance is not attainable, but being able to ebb and flow is. We all need moments to rejuvenate and it is my hope, this helps you do just that: figure out how you will consistently rejuvenate yourself.
As always...steep tea and just be,
P.S. Let me know in the comments if this was helpful and/or if you want to talk specifically about how you can incorporate more self care into your life. I’d be happy to listen and guide.