One of the hottest words of this past year most definitely was “self-care” (yes, I know, it’s two words actually). Everywhere you looked, someone was sharing their self-care routine, talking about the importance of self-care or sharing their favorite self-care tips. But why is self-care such a hotly discussed topic and what makes it so important? And most importantly, how do you find your perfect personalized self-care routine?
To me personally, an act of self-care is first and foremost about being in the moment. It’s about living presently and intentionally, about listening to yourself, your body, your mind and giving yourself what you truly need. In a more poetic form, it’s an expression of love for yourself, from yourself. And it’s something that in today’s insanely fast paced, stressful world will help you maintain your sanity and perhaps even help you lessen the effects of stress and anxiety on your health. Now I don’t think there is a universal recipe for self-care (notice the word “self” in it- which usually indicates that something different will apply for each individual)- but I do think that there are some basic needs that we all share and that we can satisfy through some simple acts of self-care.
Now this is an easy one- sleep is fundamental to our well being. We get enough hours of quality sleep and we feel rested, positive and recharged. When we don’t, we feel sluggish, depressed, even sickly, we tend to gain more weight and be less productive or accurate in our day to day activities. Which is why a great act of self-care- especially if you don’t know where to begin with this whole concept- is making sure you get enough sleep. Put down the phone/ tablet/ laptop after a certain hour at night, get into bed at a reasonable hour every time (it only takes 3 days to set a sleep pattern) and eliminate any bright lights if possible. I’ve also done a video with tips for better sleep if you want to learn more hacks for quality (!) sleep.
Now I have mentioned meditation before, in regards to your mental health. Meditation can take many forms, and no, they’re not all based on hitting that impossible Lotus position and ommmm-ing while smiling blissfully (although if that’s your way of meditating, more power to you- and kudos on nailing the Lotus, you’ll have to tell me how you do it). To me, meditation can be 5 minutes out on the balcony in the morning, just focusing on breathing and taking in the sun’s warmth. Or it can be taking a moment at the end of the day to say your gratitudes for all the good things in your life. Meditation is just about being present in the moment, and turning inwards to calm your mind (at least for beginners- you want something more advanced, you’ll probably need an ashram).
Take the time to do something you enjoy– be it your beauty routine, dancing around the house, reading or taking a walk in the park. This goes hand in hand with meditating, because taking a bit of you-time just offers a brief moment of reconnecting with yourself and shutting out all the distractions and stressors from outside. For me, the perfect beginning to every morning is just taking 10-15 minutes after breakfast to drink my latte while reading a blog I like, or simply while looking out the window at nothing in particular. Giving yourself an indulgent little break like this can fill you with endorphines and help get you ready for the day to come.
Give yourself a spa day. The whole point of self care is that it’s something you’re meant to do yourself for (you guessed it!) yourself. And while getting a massage or facial treatment from someone else might sound more luxurious, turning your house into a mini spa is nothing if not a pampering session. You can use silky body oils, rejuvenating masks, rich body butters, the works! And you can customize your spa day to your needs by relying on aromatherapy- do you need to relax and feel rested? Go for rose and lavender. A little perking up is what you’re looking for? Then reach for neroli or lemongrass. And feel free to really work those creams into your skin to actually reap the benefits of improved circulation. Because why not give yourself a healthy glow, as well as a well-balanced psyche?
Talk to someone. So this one also involves someone else’s participation in your self-care act, but it is something that will benefit you immensely. Perhaps you need to ease your mind about a problem, or to bounce some ideas to help you solve a dillema, or maybe to just feel heard and banish loneliness. In any case, getting something off your chest to your best friend, opening up to your other half or just talking on the phone with your parents can do wonders for your mental state and emotional balance.
I spilled the beans, now you tell me: what are your top self-care routine tips? What works for you and how did you find your preferred acts of self-care?