As some of you know, my daytime alter-ego is a crisis specialist and therapist, which is a fancy way of saying I help people when they’re having a rough time.
If I had to pick one topic that comes up again and again, it’s self-care. None of us have enough time or money to do everything that we need and want to do. We’re always running from the job to soccer practice or the vet appointment or the grocery store, etc. I remember spending hours on the phone as a teen while laying on my bed, but these days, if I’m on the phone, I’m usually doing dishes or picking tomatoes at the same time.
Self-care doesn’t make it to the priority list for most of us, and I’m just as guilty of that from time to time as the rest of us.
Self-care literally means taking care of yourself. Part of it is eating nutritious food and limiting junk food to treats. It’s about drinking enough water and getting enough rest. It’s about keeping positive people in your life, and eliminating the drain of consistently negative people.
While it would be nice to take a two week vacation in the tropics and get daily massages, most of us probably can’t afford it. There are simple ways that you can take care of yourself at home, and get good results. The key is to attempt to be consistent in anything you start. If you can do it for 6 weeks, you can make the good stuff a habit as easily as the bad stuff. Pick one or two to try, and don’t try to do everything at once.
1. Take time to come up with three positive thoughts about yourself, three positive things that happened that day, or three things you’re grateful for every day. If we put our attention on the negative, then that’s what we see. If we re-focus on the positive, then our outlook changes. Some people like putting these things on the mirror or the fridge. Some people like to journal them, and some people like to take time to call a friend and discuss their three things. You could start a Facebook game of “three positive things.” It’s all about what works for you.
2. Take 5 minutes a day to breathe deeply. Believe it or not, it works, if you do it right. I know you think you know how to breathe, but take a look at this.
3. Find something you like to do, and find some time to do that every week. Gardening? Reading? Listening to music in the dark? You have 15 minutes somewhere.
4. Reward yourself with something other than food. Did something you’re proud of? Made it through the week without killing someone? Instead of grabbing the ice cream and watching reruns, buy a new nail polish color, take a look at Groupon for a cool new class on something that interests you (I found a glassblowing class not long ago that way), or just sit at Starbucks and people watch.
5. Write an email (or letter) to an old friend. I know you liked their status on Facebook last week, but drop them a line and catch up, one on one. Ask them about what’s going on in their lives.
6. Take a walk. Or play Wii sports. Or go out and pick tomatoes. Get up and get moving, even if just for a few minutes a day. I promise. It makes the happy chemicals in your brain come out to play.
7. Do something creative. Draw, color, paint, write, journal, take pictures, play with Play-Doh or Sculpey. Doing creative things helps manage emotions and give you an outlet that you don’t need words for. Plus, it’s fun.
8. Listen to music. I know I have different soundtracks depending on what I’m doing. I like Garbage, Nirvana, or the Beatles when I’m doing housework, Enya or Mogwai when I’m writing, and I have a special playlist for when I’m feeling gloomy.
9. Take a detour. Or wear a different color than you usually do. Or try something different for breakfast. If you’re stuck in a rut, try doing something different to shake yourself out of it.
10. Prioritize! Not everything needs to be #1. The dust bunnies will wait until you get to them and sometimes “no” is the perfect response to a question.
What do you do to take care of yourself?