The Gentle Art of Self-Care

StillnessSustaining a busy life is not always in our best interests, physically or emotionally.  Feelings of overwhelm, stress and anxiety should not be considered normal.  Issues with insomnia, headaches, and constant fatigue should trigger something is not right.  It doesn’t fix the problem to take a pill and keep going.  I know you feel you can’t fit in everything.  But it is at those exact moments when you should be slowing down and taking a look at how you can care for yourself.  We all need to ‘switch off’ and have ‘me time’ every once in a while.

There are a few things we can do to encourage our bodies and minds to switch off and rest.  These things don’t have to cost money.  They require time which is what you need for yourself.  And a smidgen of self-discipline and self-love, so you do it.  You need time to nurture and nourish, so your mind and body unwinds.

Sleep

You should be getting about 7-8 hours of sleep a night.  Real sleep.  The one where you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.  Sleep is rejuvenating.  Even just being able to take a 90-minute nap can do wonders.  However, you can’t sleep when your mind is racing.  Here are a few basic sleep hygiene rules that work wonders for a good quality sleep.

  • Switch off the computer and other devices such as mobile phones by 8.30m.  It emits a blue light that tricks your brain into thinking it is daytime.
  • Get the television out of the bedroom.  And get the mobile phone for that matter.  You don’t need either in the room.
  • Have a glass of hot water or turmeric milk an hour before bedtime.
  • Read a favourite book to relax in bed.
  • Have a warm bath.
  • Make sure your bedroom linen smells and feels fresh and lovely.
  • Don’t eat dinner too close to bedtime.
  • Get to bed before 11 pm.  I get to bed at 8.30pm, but I love my sleep and wake up very early in the morning.

Meditation

I have always struggled to keep a regular meditation schedule.  I am always making excuse; being ‘too busy’, ‘not enough time’, ‘so many things to do I can’t get my head around it’.  You name it; I think it.  But when I do stick with it, even if it is just 10 minutes daily, I have such an incredible sense of wellbeing and a grounded base to move forward with the day.  With consistent practice, I find it easier to return to a centred feeling in the middle of chaos.

So without making meditation sound too esoteric, scary or unattainable, it is about focusing your thoughts and attention on one thing.  Yep, simple as that.  Put a timer on, 2 minutes, close your eyes and concentrate on the breath coming in and out at the tip of your nose, or the rise and fall of your chest.  Your mind will wander, you will start thinking about what you need to put into that smoothie or what you are going to cook for dinner.  Just notice your thought then go back to the feeling of the breath passing in and out through the tip of the nose or the rise and fall of the chest.  As your thoughts wander again, just bring it back to that physical sensation.  Simple.  There are more complicated and advanced techniques, but let’s just keep it simple for now.  The timer goes off; you thank yourself for doing that one small thing towards your health, then go about your day.  Don’t complicate it.

By the way I use the app Insight Timer.  It is awesome and keeps track of your progress.  You can listen to short breathing meditations, music or just have the timer.  It is free as well.

Booking in for a massage, or spa treatment

Massages or treatments sound indulgent.  Some people will even baulk at the thought of the expense for what they see as no tangible benefit.  It is time for a mind shift.  You are investing in your health and well-being.  You invest in it by giving in many ways, and sometimes that means spending money on nurturing because you are worth it.  If the expense is prohibitive for you at the moment, find people who are training or just starting out in their career.  They are often super eager and charge less to get the experience.  You don’t have to get a massage.  I have a friend who never has; she has a thing about people touching her.  But she will get a pedicure.  I know, I don’t understand either, but it works for her.  No judging people.

Eating healthy foods

This could be the best thing you can do to nourish and care for yourself, and you can do it every day.  You have to understand cooking up the big pot of soup, making the roast, putting on the slow cooker in the morning for a beautiful meal when you come home in the evening is the epitome of self-care.  Be mindful as you are chopping the vegetables.  Get organic when you can.  Wash the non-organic veggies in apple cider vinegar and water before using them.  Add more veggies to the mix.  When you eat, sit down and know you are nourishing and nurturing your body from the inside.  Acknowledge this.  You do it every day.  You are missing opportunities to really connect and thank yourself for looking after you.

Reading for pleasure

Get a cup of tea, turn the television off, run a bath or sit down, become uncontactable for 30 minutes i.e. shut down the phone and pick up a book or magazine and read for pleasure.  Not work.  Something you enjoy.  Pure relaxation and enjoyment.  I often do this at night before bed.  I take myself off to bed by myself and read.  I know that doesn’t work for some, they become more awake, but it works for me.  I gently drift off to sleep after a good dose of me time.

This list is not exhaustive, but they are things you can do right now to help you nurture and nourish your body and mind.  They are attainable, and they will help you give yourself back some long overdue love and self-care.

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