If you, too, are all about a good to do list, and your life is feeling a little too packed to even read a blog post right now, you’re going to want to pause to read this one. The beginning of a new month is a great time to reassess your personal goals and get back on track in what is always the busiest season of the year.
Here’s the deal with self care — it has become such an Internet buzzword that taking a moment of my day to actually practice any self-oriented activities has started to feel like some abstract concept reserved for the healthiest among us. My day-to-day world consists of school, work, job applications, homework and just a few hours of sleep. That’s it. It’s not a healthy routine, nor is it a sustainable one. Plus, in my people-oriented job I’m well aware that I can’t be there for anyone else if I can barely keep myself afloat. This semester, I began a small, mindful journey toward better self care efforts. It’s a work in progress and self care looks different for everyone, but here are some tips for taking a few moments a day to rejuvenate your mind and body and get back to your best self.
1) Start a one-line journal.
I used to be an avid journal-er, sometimes writing pages of notes every night. As life picked up, I lost the habit and, in turn, lost this very valuable avenue for releasing stress. This semester, I began journaling again in a way that forced me to pause and reflect on my day with gratitude. I write one line a night about what’s on my mind, one about what I’m grateful for and one about something new I learned. Even on the busiest, most overwhelming days, this exercise has been extremely helpful for keeping myself in a positive mindset.
2) Make your favorite thing to eat. (Or buy it from somewhere that makes it better than you ever could.)
A busy day, for me, generally means skipping meals altogether or reaching for the closest grab-and-go option I can find. Turns out, iced coffee doesn’t count as dinner and scarfing down fried food instead won’t sit well later either. A great comfort meal or the first helping of vegetables you’ve eaten in days, however, can really turn things around. Plus, slowing down to actually consider what you’re putting in your body and then actually enjoy your food will be a great relief during a packed day.
The gym can be a haven for some people during stressful times, while others find it a little more like hell. Even if you can’t make it to the gym, go outside for a walk, or set up your yoga mat in your living room for the evening and use YouTube to find a few good stretches. Again, these activities don’t have to be time consuming. Just do them with the intention of de-stressing.
4) Change your surroundings.
Sometimes the simple act of physically getting out of your same old routine can make a huge difference in your productivity and your mindset. Head out to a new-to-you coffee shop or part of town and try to get things done in that environment. Changing up your own space can also make a difference. Tidy up the junk drawer, go through all that junk mail, even rearrange some furniture. Where we spend our time can have a huge impact on what we do with our time, so make sure you’re in physically in a space that you enjoy.
5) Treat yo’self.
OK, admittedly, you probably already know this one, but it’s the one I forget about most often. Spend five minutes scrolling Instagram. Check your favorite blogs. Catch up on the TV show you missed last night. Take a nap. Lay down and do absolutely nothing. Treat yourself to whatever it is you need to get back into a healthy, confident state of mind. I hear people suggest these activities to me all the time, but I rarely partake in them because they feel unproductive or like a waste of time. Time spent taking care of yourself is not time wasted.
What’s your favorite way to relax when you’re feeling stressed?