You make time for work, social commitments and weekly workouts. You even take time to plan your post workout fuel and prioritize your gut health, but are you making enough time for self-care rituals? We rationalize neglecting ourselves by saying things like “there just isn’t enough time” or “too many people need me.” These may all be true, but unless you take time for yourself, you won’t be able to care for your loved ones. It’s that simple.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care is anything that makes you feel happy, healthy and whole. Revitalizing movement like walking in nature, stretching or gentle yoga are great examples. Even more vigorous exercises like running or HIIT (high intensity interval training) can be considered self-care provided you recover appropriately. Below, we discuss some areas of self-care that tend to be neglected more than the obvious exercise and diet habits. Here are six self care rituals to overcome stress and maintain balance in your life.
#1 Just Breathe
Breathwork, also known as breath therapy focuses on breathing techniques to promote physical, psychological and spiritual healing. It may sound simple, but altering the the way in which we breathe can have profound effects on our health.There is a vast array of breathwork techniques one can choose from, but no matter which one you decide to try, consciously working on your breathing will help you enjoy multiple benefits including a profound sense of calm, a clearer head and an overall sense of lightness among many others.
Action Step: The next time you feel flustered or frazzled, take two minutes to focus on your breathe. Inhale for five counts, hold for five counts, then exhalf for five counts. This is called box breathing and can help you relax no matter where you find yourself.
#2 Catch Some ZZZ’s
There aren’t many things better than a solid night’s sleep, but unfortunately modern stress has seriously messed with our sleep cycles. Sleep is incredibly important to proper health. Sleep does so much including the following:
- Keep your heart healthy
- Restores the body’s immune function
- Prevents weight gain
- Repairs damaged tissues
- Increases focus and reaction time
- Regulates hormones and blood-sugar levels
- Improves concentration and cognitive function
- Detoxifies organs and organ systems
- Increases sex drive
- Increases energy
- Prevents headaches
- Enhances memory consolidation
- Improves speed, hand-eye coordination and muscle recovery
- Boosts mood
- Increases pain threshold
- Bolsters relationships
Okay, we knew sleep was important, but who knew it was that important!
Action Step: Create a sleep routine to ensure you can get the best night’s sleep possible. An hour or so before bed, dim the lights, turn off all devices (this includes the television), set the thermostat at a comfortable temperature (preferably between 65-67 degrees Fahrenheit) and get ready for bed (i.e. brush your teeth, wash your face, curl up in bed and read a good book like your favorite fiction novel). Do your best to clock 7-9 hours of sleep each night so you can can wake feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and refreshed and ready to tackle the day ahead.
#3 Practice Meditation
Similar to breathing, meditation is a great form of self-care. As with deep breathing, meditation activates the parasympathetic nervous system and simultaneously relaxes the body. Meditation can be as simple as closing your eyes for a few moments and focusing on your breath or it can mean taking a longer set of time (15-20 minutes) and closing your eyes while you focus on a specific mantra like peace, calm, surrender or some other word or phrase that resonates with you.
Action Step: Carve out 5-15 minutes to try meditation. If you find yourself struggling to still your mind, focus on your breath, your mantra or try counting. Another great way to get started is with a meditation app like Headspace, Calm and 10% Happier. Try multiple types of meditation techniques to see which one works best for you and your lifestyle. Some options to explore include Vippassana, Metta (Loving Kindness), Zazen and Transcendental Meditation.
#4 Apply Essential Oils
Essential oils are a great way to tap into our central nervous system via the sense of smell. Using the sense of smell ties an experience to the present moment. However, selecting a scent can be overwhelming since there are so many essential oils to choose from, but here are a few of our favorites:
- Bergamot - Increases levels of positivity
- Peppermint - Invigorates
- Lavender and/or Cedarwood - Relaxes
Action Step: Try rubbing 2-3 splashes of essential oils on your wrists or temples. Breathe deep and enjoy the scent as you go about your day. Check your local health food stores for a selection of essential oils. Need a recommendation? Some of our favorite brands include Aura Cacia, doTERRA and Saje.
#5 Express Gratitude
Expressing gratitude has a variety of benefits, but most importantly, expressing gratitude makes us feel happy. Focusing on what we are already grateful for shifts our perspectives to focus on more positive things in our lives and don’t we all need more positivity?
Action Step: At some point during the day, mentally list five things you are grateful for in that moment. This sets your mood and focus for the day ahead. Plus, this practice is focused on your internal state rather than your external state, which can ultimately lead to more happiness and positivity throughout your day. They can be as small as feeling the sunshine on your face or enjoying that fresh cup of coffee or they can be as exciting as an upcoming vacation. Whether you make a list first thing in the morning, in the middle of the work day or right before bed, see how your perspective changes.
Other Self-Care Rituals include, but are not limited to:
- Repeating affirmations
- Drinking tea, coffee or another beverage you enjoy
- Sitting in an infrared sauna
- Listening to music or a podcast
- Practicing self-massage
- Showering and/or taking a luxurious bubble bath
- Walking in nature
Self-care doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply pick something you enjoy, carve out time for it and do it! Show us how you practice self-care by tagging us @drinkupwild.