We live in a time of excessive pressure that demands from us to be constantly connected, always on the go, and pleasing other people. We move in an unnatural rhythm. We try to follow the pace of others, we over work, or our work is in environments that are physically and emotionally toxic.
We constantly feel an internal fight against pressures that surround us. From work, to socializing, to relationships and honestly, most of time we really need to press our reset button, disconnect, detox in the perspective of relaxing our bodies, rejuvenate, and gain strength but unfortunately we only do that in the verge of a break down.
Self-care is the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own heath, well-being and happiness in periods of stress, and I think it’s very important to apply the act of taking care of ourselves not only in periods of stress but daily. We need to be intentional about creating habits that center us and get us back to our path and attract more calm in our lives.
Why don’t we apply self-care every day? What prevents us to make even a small act to reconnect us to us? Why take ourselves to the extreme of saturation? Do we think it is honorable to do that? Maybe we think that there is no time because of the demands of life (or we think that self-care must be some sort of long activity that involves a lot of money). We over do, we break down, burn out and we compensate in the wrong way, with alcohol, overeating, scrolling for hours on social media, and entertaining toxic relationships.
How to incorporate self-care daily /recovering a sense of connection
Openness, patience, receptivity, solitude is everything.
Rainer Maria Rilke
Psychologists recommend that we start our day with some sort of meditation or with some time alone, switched off from technology to eliminate the tension.
It is important to relieve our morning stress. A way of doing that can be closing our eyes for a few minutes to center in our breath and doing some deep breathing. This simple act can help wonders. Easing the tension before work gives some rest to our minds so we can balance our thoughts and emotions.
Another way to self-care is to have fun with our trusted friends, the ones we feel safe to share with and maybe cry about our fears, angers, and dreams.
Self-care does not have to involve money; We do not have to go to spas or restaurants to bring peace and clarity to our minds. Sure, if we have the money and want to go to a spa, why not?
We can practice self-care in the comfort of our homes and offices, creating small moments of pausing and giving attention to the self.
Being in harmony with our mind and bodies is crucial and by prioritizing ourselves this way will give us the opportunity to be better people to ourselves and to others.
Well being or self-care starts with simple questions like, What does living well mean to me? (Drinking wine all day and eating junk food is not a valid answer he he). What can I do to make me feel satisfied and balanced?
These questions change our perspective and gives us the chance to explore what we need and what makes sense.
A good mental and physical health is essential for people to arrive at their maximum potential and to contribute to the development of the society.
The art of relaxing
Relaxing means clearing our minds and detoxing our bodies. It is important to understand that our paths to self-care and well being are unique and individual. Each path is also reflective of where we are in our lives and what we need in different phases.
When we satisfy the necessity we have of self-nurturing, we can become healthy, energetic, balanced and satisfied.
We must preserve our personal space and learn to say NO. I know sometimes can be hard to be calm in a busy world, but it requires us to slow down and this is the only way we can see what we need and miss in our lives. When we feel overwhelmed and busy we have to remember that we are not powerless.
Self-care is important and is a respectful act; We feel more energy, more reserve and more depth. Self-care practice is all about making small and purposeful efforts.
When we do not take care of ourselves, we are more likely to feel fatigued mentally, physically, and emotionally, and our relational health suffers too.
Taking care of ourselves is an incredible act of courage. Once I learned to put my own needs first I found myself with a much more balanced view of the world and with the ability to help people and myself in a much better way.
Simple Self-Care Habits to Incorporate Daily
There are simple and effective ways to incorporate self-care habits daily, activities like:
Burning an incense, taking a shower or bath, doing yin yoga, 10 minutes of deep belly breathing, 10 minutes of meditation or more if time is available, listening to music, practicing gratitude, praying, organizing our spaces, journaling, reading a good book, taking naps, and talking to a friend.
These activities can be incorporated in to our daily lives but it is important to remember that self-care is different to different people and we have to identify what is crucial to us. What do we need, and what do we understand from the concept of living well?
We have to reflect and avoid falling in to the trap of creating a superficial calm or happiness. This is important to not gloss over as longer term of self-care is important and has a real impact on genuinely nurturing ourselves and recharging. Creating a realistic self-care checklist that we will actually stick to can be super beneficial.
My Personal Experience
I used to live an unhealthy life style, I ate badly (junk food that clogged my mind and my soul as I was an emotional eater), over-stressed and worked in a toxic environment. Only when shit hit the fan (I started to have anxiety, insomnia, and major migraines everyday) did I realized I desperately needed to take care of myself, mentally and physically.
Self-care methods I used and I still use are breathing deeply when I feel frazzled, stretching my back, and drinking water or an herbal chamomile tea to relax. I also practice walking for 2 minutes in between work breaks and have learned to apply the Pomodoro Technique when I’m working, a time management system that encourages working with the time we have –rather than against it. This technique consists on doing 25 minutes of focused activity/work and then taking 5 minutes of break to relax the brain and gain energy, focus, and increase productivity.
To unwind and relax at home I meditate for 10 minutes, practice my Qigong, read a good book or listen to an audio book. I love to self-massage my face and body with an almond oil with orange essential oil. It is very relaxing and grounding. I also burn some incense for clarity or I put on my Mussiro face mask (for those unfamiliar, this is a type of clay from my country –Mozambique specifically form the island of Mozambique).
Power poses also are great, like raising the arms in “V” above my head to stretch the body is my favorite. When I get up in the morning, I tell my mind that I am in charge of the day.
Daily brain dump or journaling 10 minutes or 30 per day helps me write down everything that worries me or makes me feel angry. After, I feel refreshed and less heavy mentally/releases a lot of stress.
Taking time to be creative also helps me a lot; Doodling, watercolor, and pottery making all stimulates my imagination and relaxes me. Creativity is wonderful and can push back fears, lower anxiety, and make us feel calmer.
These are my ways of doing self-care and as I said, self-care is highly personal. There is no right way to practice for looking after emotional, physical and mental well-being.
Finally, we have to be realistic with our routines. Setting unrealistic goals is a recipe for self-sabotage, smaller goals are better and asking ourselves how will we create time is essential. We must look at the areas of our life that might need attention and schedule some self-care.
We only have one life and we must live it in the best way possible. We have to treat ourselves with love and compassion.