When was the last time you did something delicious just for yourself and didn’t feel an ounce of guilt? Hopefully, it was recently, but the sad truth is that many of us are socialized to take care of everyone else first and we’re called “selfish” if we object.
The reality, though, is that if we don’t make a conscious commitment to our own self-care, we become increasingly scattered, ungrounded, and miserable. If our inner core, what I call our “Circle of One,” is weak, we can’t support our families, communities, and ultimately our larger visions for the world in the most empowered way possible.
Everything else becomes a little easier, a little less stressful, maybe even more fun, when we carve out time and space for ourselves in the midst of life’s whirlwind. So, how do we start to create an ongoing self-care habit?
One simple way is to break it down into the four-sided model of mind-body-heart-spirit. What can you do every day to support and nurture yourself in each of those areas: to stimulate your mind, nurture your body, honor your feelings and important relationships, and reconnect with spirit? Shared below are a few ideas to get you started.
Here Is Your Essential Guide to Self-Care:
- Tip #1: Write Down Your Thoughts, Dreams, and Goals
This the first step to getting them out of your head and into the world. Even if you don’t think there’s anything special up there, try spending 15 minutes each day for a week, writing whatever comes into your mind, no judgment or criticism. You might be surprised to see what bubbles up.
- Tip #2: Try Mind-Mapping
The next time you must flush out a new project, either for the house or for work, you might try mind-mapping. It’s like outlining an idea, only with circles, lines, and colors, it’s a visual approach. Just do a Google search on it and get your art supplies ready.
- Tip #3: Keep Your Memory Sharp and Your Mind Clear
This is critical to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Whether it’s about remembering your daughter’s science project, or your boss’ meeting schedule. Crossword puzzles, trivia games, or card matching games with a favorite child are all fun ways to stimulate your “grey matter.”
- Tip #1: Remember to BREATH
In fact, make a point several times a day, while you’re sitting in traffic or holding for someone on the phone, to take five slow, deep breaths. If nothing else, you’ll be re-oxygenating and re-activating your brain cells, ready to tackle the next project, challenge, or phone call.
- Tip #2: Rest
There is no more powerful medicine than rest. When you sleep uninterrupted for seven to eight hours, your body’s natural healing and rejuvenating abilities are free to work, resulting in better reaction time, memory, and productivity. In fact, getting less than six hours triples your risk for a car accident, a compelling reason to turn the light out earlier.
- Tip #3: Exercise
You don’t have to be a marathon runner, swimmer, or cyclist to reap the benefits of exercise. The simple act of walking is a great low-impact, cardio workout. Studies show that just 30 minutes of exercise can dramatically reduce the risk of heart disease and other illnesses and increase your life expectancy.
- Tip #1: Use Your Sense of Smell
Our sense of smell is the most evocative of all our senses since it’s directly connected to the limbic system, the seat of all emotions and memory. To de-stress your heart, take a whiff of lavender, neroli, Melissa, or ylang-ylang essential oils. Or to simply improve general heart circulation, try basil, rosemary, or thyme.
- Tip #2: Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude
It can do wonders for lifting your spirits and soothing a troubled heart. Try writing down three things you’re grateful for at the beginning or end of each day. Better yet, make a point to regularly tell the people in your life, at home and at work, something that you appreciate about them and watch them light up. You’ll feel pretty good, too!
- Tip #3: Play A Little Game
Pick at least one conversation each day where you commit to keeping the other person the center of attention, not offering advice, responding with a story of your own, or negating their experience (as in “oh, it’s not so bad”). Allow yourself just to be with her or him. Appreciate the quality of quiet connection that occurs.
- Tip #1: Make Your Workspace Your Sacred Place
Whether it’s your dining room table or an office cubicle, how excited are you to walk into your workspace each morning? Does it feel like a “sacred space?” If not, think of a few ways to en-soul it, maybe adding a water fountain or aromatherapy lamp, creating a mini-altar of meaningful objects, or hanging a special picture.
- Tip #2: Play
We all need a regular dose of play to maintain optimal focus, balance, and creativity in our lives. When is the last time you see-sawed with your kids? How about keeping some jacks or a Yo-Yo, or one of those little paddles with a ball attached where you bat the ball as often as you whack your head?! Could be just the infusion of silliness you need to lift your spirits when you’re having a rough day.
- Tip #3: Get in Touch with Nature
Our connection to nature is a deep and visceral one, not for naught that she’s referred to as “Mother.” Whether you live in the middle of the city or in a grassy suburb, make sure you spend some time outdoors every day. Fresh air and Vitamin D-laden sunlight have a real healing and rejuvenating effect.
Creating an ongoing habit of self-care by nurturing your body, mind, heart, and spirit begins with intention. Add a little creativity and a pinch of imagination, and you have the recipe for maintaining a well-nourished Circle of One on an ongoing basis.
Now that you have your essential guide to self-care, imagine if everyone you knew made that same commitment to reconnect with and reenergize their divinely connected SELF-center. What an extraordinary power-grid we could create!
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