5 Ways To Practice Self-Care
Since August 2015, I’ve been on a bit of a sabbatical, thanks to some complications from my celiac disease. Because my doctors requested that I stop working full-time for a year in order to heal, I’ve spent the last nine months trying to take better care of myself, destress and really choose my schedule, including self-care.
I’m being very deliberate about what I do (and what I don’t do) and often, little rituals of self-care are the most important pieces to maintaining sanity.
Some of them are daily rituals; others are things I make time for on a monthly basis. The point is that they all are about what I’m choosing. Because self-care doesn’t have to be about sitting on the couch and watching a whole season on Netflix (though if that’s on your list, go for it!). Instead, it’s about creating space for activities and rituals that make you feel energized, alive and restored. It can be active, like making time for working out, or going to the museum to see a new exhibit. Or it can be restful, like slathering on a face mask and watching TV. The point is that there’s no right way to do it, as long as “it” makes you a fuller, better version of yourself.
My Top Five Self-Care Tips
- Apply a face mask. Ok, so this isn’t a new tip or even a unique one. It’s just proven to make me feel better, restored and more connected to myself. DIYing a face mask or selecting one from my beauty arsenal requires me to sit still for at least 20 minutes. It forces me to not go anywhere, to not do laundry, to not check the mail. It reminds me that I should take a deep breath and calm down for a few. Plus, I know that I’m doing something good for myself by taking care of my skin—skincare IS self-care. I’m putting nourishing, healthy ingredients on my skin to renew and revitalize it. And that’s important to me.
- Brew a cup of tea. This is another no-brainer: Making a cup of tea not only calms and soothes my soul, but it also boosts my insides to reveal healthier skin and aids in digestion. I love a floral or detox tea that helps detoxify and support my immune system. Turmeric tea or dandelion root give me immunity boosting goodness and, with a dash of honey, taste a little like a dessert. Plus, the warmth of the concoction is especially welcome during chillier months.
- Color. It’s all the rage right now, right? Coloring books for adults? Well, let me tell you—it works! It’s a fun, light-hearted activity that infuses me with creativity and gets my brain moving in a way that sitting in front of my computer or TV never does. Selecting colors and then rhythmically applying them to the page is calming and enlightening all at once. I’ve come up with some great ideas for blogs and photo shoots while my hands are busy creating a kaleidoscope of colors in my coloring book.
- Paint your nails. Getting a manicure or pedicure is one of my favorite indulgences, but because I can’t afford that all the time, I’ve taken to becoming a great self manicurist. It again requires concentration, but it’s a different kind of focus than I use when I’m working. It’s creative in and of itself, while also being a task I feel good accomplishing. Plus, just like with all the previous tips, it requires me to set aside time, to think about myself and to reflect on how I want to present myself. Maybe that sounds a little deep for nail art, but I go through a process of thinking about what I want to say to the world about me when I choose my nail polish color. Yes, it’s a little silly, but it’s a nice reason to hold a mirror up to myself and make sure I’m really aligning what I do with who I want to be.
- Self-massage + stretch. Both of these are requirements in my regular routine. As a former dancer, I can’t get through an entire day of sitting behind a computer, in my car or on the couch without taking stretching breaks and without a little dedicated stretching time before bed. I have a short, gentle series of yoga moves that I do to unlock tight hamstrings and hips, relax shoulders and relieve tension. The self-massage comes in as more of a weekly ritual, though I’m sure my psyche would be elated if I made time for it daily. I got the Ayurvedic practice of abhyanga from a past NMDL post, and have been applying to my self-care routine ever since. Its basic method uses long strokes and circular motions to invigorate your body and balance your emotions and hormones. Using warm oil, you tailor the strokes to how you’re feeling, the time of year and what your body needs. You can read more about the how tos here, but suffice it to say that the ritual is one that I count on to reset, whether I’m upset, tired, anxious or sad. Plus, a massage is so incredibly healing, especially when you dedicate time to do it for yourself.
And those are the top five things I’ve been doing for self-care. The key piece in all of them is that they work for ME. They provide me the restoration and solace I need when I’m drained, and they remind me that taking care of myself isn’t a luxury—it’s a necessity.
What do you do to take time for yourself?
A version of this was originally published on Organic Bath Co.’s blog.