Hello again, friends. Our “Self-Care is for Everyone” series is drawing to a close.
This has been fun! I’ve truly enjoyed hearing what types of self-care works best for others, and I hope my offerings have been helpful. To catch up, read “The Ultimate Flex”, “Lights Out”, “Vampires and Zombies”, and “Nourished”. It wouldn’t be a series without them!
I could talk about the various types of self-care for months but it’s time to pull this train into the station. I know there are a lot more topics that deserve their own posts and they may get there someday. To finish off this series, I’ve collected a few more of my personal favorites for this self-care round-up! Let’s get into it!
Mindfulness and Meditation
I talk briefly about mindfulness in “The Ultimate Flex”. The practices of yoga and meditation go hand in hand for a reason. Clearing your mind and focusing on the present moment helps with focusing on the movements for a yoga practice. Remembering to breathe correctly is a skill that yoga focuses on as well. However, remembering to stop and breathe is a skill that carries across situations.
Are you having a stressful day at the office? Take a minute for some deep breaths! Remind yourself of what is happing at that present moment and refocus.
Another mindfulness practice that helps me is setting intentions. An intention can be as one word or phrase that you decide to focus on. Something simple like “strength”, “love”, or “hope” can serve as focal points for your thinking. As someone who deals with anxiety, I know that having a specific phrase to focus on when my brain starts inventing nightmare scenarios can pull me out of a nasty mental space.
Some folks say that they don’t have the focus to meditate, and I get it. Staying focused on one thing can be nearly impossible but that’s not the point of meditation. You’re human, remember? The point shouldn’t be the mistake. It’s in the recovery.
The mind wanders. That’s why it can be helpful to have an intention to focus on. It can steer your thinking back to the path you strayed from. Simple as that. It doesn’t need to take a long time either. Start with a minute and increase the amount of time as you feel comfortable. This is your practice. Take your time.
Additionally, some people use guided meditations to focus on. This can be helpful for people who love music or ambient noise. Instead of focusing on your thoughts (which might be toxic) having outside noise to focus on can be a welcome distraction. And while I’m on the subject…
Music Soothes the Savage Beast
Music may not come to mind as a method of self-care, but it absolutely can be. Some folks put on music while they do other things. Some folks need music to refocus their mind after a long day. Either way, jamming to your favorite tunes can have a restorative effect on your mind and body.
Doctors are already aware of the various positive side effects of listening to or performing music. According to verywellmind.com, Music can improve memory, lower stress, and help with sleep and motivation.
Personally, I need music to function. I listen to music as much as I can in my free time. I always have a song stuck in my head and will sing a few bars if asked. There are times that I live for an instrumental while I garden or something soothing to help me relax after work. I can’t think of a person that goes to the gym without bringing a comfortable pair of headphones. Music lives in all of us and can help to bring us back to being our best selves.
Did you know that sunlight is good for you? Humans need Vitamin D for creating healthy bones. It is also an antioxidant and a natural anti-inflammatory supplement that helps with immune system functioning. Your body uses sunlight to create Vitamin D from cholesterol. It is possible to get Vitamin D from some foods, but the sun is actually a better source. Lots of people have a vitamin D deficiency and doctors have suggested that getting more sun can help.
Many of us have been made to spend a lot more time indoors over the past year and a half. Lots of us were working from home and days would go by before some people got to see the sun. If that applies to you, I have a question. Didn’t it feel kinda cruddy? Didn’t your sedentary, indoor lifestyle feel a little worse without the sunshine? I bet it did.
Sunshine is good for your mental health as well. There are examples of seasonal affective disorder, where people’s moods are markedly worse during the months where direct sunlight is low, but it doesn’t have to be that extreme. Many people report having worse moods on cloudy days, especially during a series of cloudy days. There can be a general malaise that is difficult to shake off. People are more lethargic when the sun goes away. That’s a gift of evolution. The lack of sunlight was a signal for our ancestors to turn in for the night. That might explain why napping during a rain shower is so appealing.
Are you having a rough time? Try going outside for a little while. Let the sun do its job and always remember your sunscreen!
Change Your Scenery
Humans tend to be creatures of habit. We like to do the same thing over and over. It can create a sense of normalcy and safety. It can also create a deep sense of boredom and disillusionment in their lives. A person can easily go from satisfaction to disappointment if they stick with the same old, same old for too long.
One way to shake things up would be to visit somewhere new! Book a vacation to someplace warm during the winter or make a pilgrimage back home to visit relatives. Something as simple as visiting a new part of your town can be enough to shake up your mundane lifestyle. I love a new adventure. I’m not a thrill-seeker by any means, but I do like to travel and learn about new places.
If that doesn’t feel right to you, keep it simple by having little adventures. Have lunch at a new restaurant. Meet friends for a walk in the park. Take your dog on a different walking route. Just switching up your daily routine can spice up an ordinary day.
And That’s It!
These small changes can have huge lasting effects. Self-care is something a lot of people neglect in their daily lives. It’s easier to make excuses and push through to the next thing. Our society demands that we be running in the rat race at all times. Things need to get done and Heaven forbid if they don’t. We go through our lives merely existing and not really living. Imagine living for 80+ years and not having one cool story to tell the grandkids! Tragic.
Make yourself a priority because no one else will. Your happiness and life satisfaction are your responsibility. Do your best for yourself and you can do your best for others.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this crash course on self-care. Be sure to follow my blog for other mental health explorations in the future. I love having you here. Feel free to share these messages with others as you are so moved as well. We can all get better together!
I love you. We can do this. Take care of yourselves.