We all know self-care is important, but do we really even understand what best practice self-care looks like?
I think we over-complicate it. I’ve been thinking and reading about this topic for a while, and I want to break down what I’ve learned.
Every little bit counts
Do you know what I think of when I think of self-care? A nice long, hot bath. And while I do love baths and take several each week, I don’t think that’s the only thing. Or even the best thing.
I think we often think that we need a large chunk of time for self-care, so we can take that bath or whatever it might be for us. But that’s not realistic in our daily lives. Whether it’s work or kids or other activities, we often struggle to fit in larger acts of self-care like that.
So what if we change our perspective? What if we recognize that every little bit counts? That 10-minute walk you went on today with your kids? Totally self-care. The vacuuming you did? Self-care. Locking your kids out of the room while you put on some real clothes? That counts too.
Now, those things probably don’t feel the most refreshing. I get that. But if we can see each of those things as a small act of self-love, it will add up! We’ll see our proverbial cups being filled, drop by tiny drop. And have you ever had a leaky faucet? Those drops add up throughout the day!
There’s a lot that we can do to care for ourselves before we get overwhelmed. Seeing these things as self-care might even help us avoid feeling totally overwhelmed in the first place.
Things like exercising, eating healthfully, and getting enough sleep are great ways to care for ourselves. We all know we should be doing those things, but sometimes they slip through the cracks. What can we do when we’re already at the point of stress and overwhelm?
“Outer order contributes to inner calm.” -Gretchen Rubin
As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I really don’t enjoy cleaning. If you had told me even a year ago that my nightly kitchen cleaning would feel like self-care, I would have told you you had the wrong person. But each night, I do some final kitchen cleaning while my husband (the world’s best) puts the kids to bed. And while that is the last thing I want to do at 7:30 pm, it really has become self-care. Because I know that when I wake up in the morning, I’ll get make and serve breakfast in a clean kitchen. That I won’t be frazzled and frustrated because I can’t find counter space to cook on, let alone the utensils I need. Seeing that 15-minute chunk of time as self-care has made it self care. And it’s eliminated my need to take a 40-minute bath every single night.
But your outer order self-care routine may look different than mine. Try to find something you can do that will only take a little time. Tidy your bathroom while you brush your teeth, or put 10 things away before heading out the door in the morning. Find little things you can do, remind yourself that it’s self-care, and then admire the visual peace you’ve created for yourself. (If you’d like to think more about establishing daily cleaning habits, check out this post: https://mothersimply.com/daily-cleaning-habits-made-simple/)
Connect with your body
I tend to get stuck in my mind and emotions. I’m a very emotional person, but I’m also intellectually minded. The combination means that I’m either a swirling mess of thoughts, feelings or both most of the day. It can be exhausting.
Connecting with my body regularly is one of the best ways I’ve found to combat this. Ten-minute yoga videos are my favorite. They help me slow my mind, and I love feeling the stretch in my limbs. As the tension in my body melts away, the tension in my mind does too.
Sometimes a video may not be possible. When that’s the case, just check in with your body. Identify where you feel the tension and take a few deep breaths. Let your thoughts take a back seat while you really focus on how those breaths feel in your body. I think you’ll be surprised at how much peace a few breaths can bring.
Feed your soul
As a Christian, feeding my soul means turning
to scripture in moments of stress. Elder Richard G. Scott, a leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints said, “To memorize a scripture is to forge a new friendship. It is like discovering a new individual who can help in time of need, give inspiration and comfort and be a source of motivation for needed change.”
Recently I’ve found a lot of peace in choosing and memorizing a “scripture mantra.” It’s something that I can repeat in my mind any time I need to, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, like a friend coming in to remind me of what I’m capable of with God’s help. Prayer can have a similar effect.
This idea can be applied to quotes, scriptures, songs – anything that inspires you and brings you peace. I write it somewhere that I’ll see it often, and then repeat it in moments that feel stressful like one might do with a mantra.
Flip the switch
When you’re feeling stressed or overworked, try to flip the switch on your environment. If you’re inside, head outdoors. If it’s quiet, put on some upbeat music. Maybe your environment is noisy and you don’t have control over that, but you could put in some headphones and play some calming music. If you’re cold, find a sweater or a blanket. I’ve you’re sitting or lying down, try doing some jumping jacks or walking a few laps around the room. The act of focusing on and changing your environment will refocus and reenergize you to get back and face your day.
I hope these ideas give you a place to start in finding what true self-care looks like for you. Because YOU are important enough to focus your time and energy on!
I’ve put together a free downloadable PDF of some of my favorite scriptures and quotes to memorize. Sign up below to download it!