Your personal idea of self-care could be anything from a nap to climbing a mountain.
The point of self-care is to carve out a few minutes each day to do something that refuels your spirit. Taking care of your higher self brings joy. Joy can then overshadow your stress, angst, and frustrations.
Preferably you will carve out a few days each year to put yourself first, in addition to a daily practice. If you think you can’t do this because you have long days and many responsibilities, I propose that a self-care practice will help you even more!
Try starting with a commitment for 10 minutes in the morning for something that may feel a little selfish, yet you know it will serve your health. Get up 10 minutes earlier if necessary. Or just skip the common task of checking emails first thing. The emails will still be there after you’ve focused on your own needs. You will be more able to tackle those tasks after you’ve shown compassion for your personal needs. Ask yourself, and be honest, what is missing in your life? What brings you pleasure? What are your favorite things? Do you get or do enough of these things?
Allow yourself to imagine steps that will fill your cup, both large and small. Start with the small steps and put the larger ones on your vision board. The small steps you begin now with will add up more quickly than you expect. Like me, you may find the longer-term goals manifest more quickly than expected as well.
Examples of what you can do to support yourself with 10 minutes:
- Meditate and visualize the day you want
- Morning pages, write out personal thoughts first thing in AM—good, bad and ugly
- Stretching, yoga or tai chi
- Write poetry
- Go for a walk
- Do high-impact, heart-rate boosting exercises, like lunges, kicks, squats, or jumping jacks
- Make a pot of herbal nervine teas like holy basil or chamomile and sip while focused on setting up a positive attitude
- Sit quietly with thoughts and do nothing
- Take a hot bath with Epsom salts or essential oils (I hope you can spend 30 min!)
- Dance around the house to some favorite upbeat music
- Pray or read a spiritual text
Starting your day off with mindfulness or brisk activity gives you a chance to set up the rest of the day for success. If you miss your morning slot or it just doesn’t work, take 10 later on. Maybe you can luxuriate in a 10-minute nap? I have been known to nap in my car during lunch. Small step, big payoff!
The benefits of taking this time not only show love, respect, and compassion for yourself they also help you manage the stresses to come more effectively! For example, and at the risk of sounding cliché, caring for yourself is much like putting on your own oxygen mask first. If you are not getting enough “oxygen” you will not perform as well, you will not be able to offer your best to the world. When you do get your “oxygen” in a timely manner, you have properly functioning mental faculties with which you may now serve others more fully. Each of us must define what our own “oxygen” looks like, and each of us must be honest with ourselves about our own needs.
I hear your thoughts, dear reader—how can I possibly add one more task to my day?
I understand your dilemma; in fact, I totally get it! I ignored my own needs for a long time, which resulted in an unbalanced life and health that was heading in the wrong direction. I played a self-martyr role for so long that I had to make a big change in order to course correct.
I encourage you to start prioritizing yourself now and start taking consistent small steps toward showing yourself some compassion. You do not have to be a super-hero all the time. You can admit to having needs. Slowing down to enjoy your life now gives meaning to your life now.
I know it is hard to prioritize these self tasks such acts are not really honored in our society. I also know the benefits will pay you back ten-fold. Forge past the social constraints and ideas that cause self-martyrdom. Move fully into love and be the example.
Someone asked me not too long ago if I had ever put myself on a gratitude list. I gasped when I heard the question. Despite having kept a gratitude journal for years, it had never occurred to me to put myself on that list. Not once.
Do you include yourself on your gratitude list? Here is a great place to start your self-care practice. Write out a gratitude list and put yourself at the very top! Loving yourself is the highest form of respect, compassion, and grace you can show. When you love you, you will understand love at the deepest, most authentic level. Love, that will give you the confidence to love others and to change the world.