A basic step to staying happy and healthy, self-care is often forgotten in today’s busy lifestyle. Self-care may be considered selfish; a common notion is that it is somehow less worthy to put ourselves before others. It may be seen as a low priority, something that can only be done when all the more important day-to-day tasks and activities have been completed. Yet neglecting to take time for yourself can lead to a build-up of stress, often resulting in burn-out or illness. Only then do most people realise that they need to look after themselves better.
The time to implement self-care is not when we can no longer cope with the stress in our lives, it is right now, to help prevent our stress levels from building.
Self-care means anything we do to help maintain our health and wellbeing. Here are some simple self-care rituals that can be easily incorporated into your busy schedule. Self-care should ideally be practised every day, and while it might feel difficult at first, once you get used to it you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.
1. Pamper Session
Spending time pampering ourselves feels indulgent but the more you do it, the more it becomes second nature. A good idea is to get into the habit of booking a session in your diary at least once a week. You might like to do a different treat each week, or if you have more time, you can even combine several for a more deeply relaxing pamper session. You could even set aside a few hours to do an at-home pamper day. Here are some of our favourite pampering treats:
Relaxing aromatherapy bath – run a warm bath then add your favourite calming bath oil or make your own by mixing a teaspoon of sweet almond or coconut oil with two drops of essential oils like lavender, chamomile, geranium, rose, jasmine, ylang ylang or mandarin.
Manicure and pedicure – start off by soaking your feet in a bowl of warm water and your nails in warmed olive oil before massaging in a hydrating hand and foot cream. Complete the treatment by filing your nails and painting them in your favourite shades.
Facial – get out your best skincare products and give your skin a boost by thoroughly cleansing, exfoliating and applying a mask. Spend time massaging in a nourishing oil before finishing with moisturiser and eye cream.
Hair mask and head massage – treat your hair to a repairing and conditioning mask, taking the time to massage it into the hair and scalp to help relieve any tension.
Body brushing and exfoliation – use a cruelty-free dry body brush to help speed up the removal of toxins and boost your circulation before stepping into the shower and exfoliating with a homemade salt or sugar scrub.
Self-massage – massage your favourite body oil or moisturiser into your skin, working out any areas of tension as you go.
Makeover – get out all your makeup and have fun trying a new look.
2. Yoga and/or Meditation
Do a few minutes of de-stressing yoga, followed by a relaxing meditation. Better still, combine them both with yoga nidra, an ancient but little-known yogic practice that’s becoming increasingly popular as both a form of meditation and a mind-body therapy. Since yoga nidra is deceptively simple and is most often carried out lying down, it is an accessible form of meditation for those seeking everyday wellbeing.
“In yoga nidra, we restore our body, senses, and mind to their natural function and awaken a seventh sense that allows us to feel no separation, that only sees wholeness, tranquility, and well-being,” says Richard Miller, a spiritual teacher, yogic scholar and clinical psychologist who is at the forefront of the yoga nidra movement. Follow Richard’s 10 Steps of Yoga Nidra here.
Journaling can be done at any time of the day, but first thing in the morning or last thing at night is an ideal time. How you use your journal is up to you, but here are some suggestions:
Gratitude diary – write down at least three things you are grateful for. This could be things that happened that day, or things or people in your life in general. Studies have shown that being grateful has many health and wellbeing benefits, including reduced feelings of depression, improved sleep patterns and a more positive attitude.
Goal setting – when we write down a goal, we are more likely to achieve it. People who write down specific goals for their future are far more likely to be successful than those who have either unwritten goals or no specific goals at all.
Happy moments – what good things happened today? Write down everything you can remember, even tiny things like a smile from a stranger or seeing a cute dog across the street. Focus on the good things not the bad.
Thoughts and feelings – write down all your worries, thoughts, emotions and ideas. Getting everything down on paper frees up space in your mind for feelings of happiness and calm. It also helps you to check in with yourself and see how you are doing.
Achievements – the opposite of a to-do list, which can often be overwhelming and make you feel down if you haven’t ticked everything off, an achievement list helps you to realise everything that you have managed to do that day. From big things like finishing a piece of work to small things like making the bed, writing down our achievements helps us stay positive and motivated.
Curling up with a good book and getting lost in a story is one of life’s simple pleasures. Make your reading time even more calming by creating a hygge environment with cosy fairy lights, scented soy candles, soft blankets to keep you warm and of course, a mug of your favourite hot drink.
A form of meditation that can be practised anytime, anywhere, mindfulness is all about being in the present and focusing on the here and now. Constantly thinking about our next task and future events makes us miss what is going on around us. Try to be mindful about as many things as you can whilst you go about your day. A good way to start is by choosing one thing to do mindfully, such as the journey to work or cooking a meal. Use all your senses to really pay attention to what you are doing and how you are feeling.
6. Bedtime Ritual
This is a really good one to do because it helps you to switch off and unwind and set you up for a peaceful night’s sleep, especially if you haven’t had time to practise self-care during the day. Stop what you are doing at least thirty to sixty minutes before bedtime. You may like to incorporate some of the aforementioned self-care rituals, such as a pamper session, reading, journaling and meditation. Sit and relax with a cup of calming chamomile tea whilst reflecting on the day. Set your intentions for tomorrow and write down the tasks you have to do so you don’t fret about them during the night. When you get into bed, tense and relax each muscle group working from your head to your toes, paying particular attention to any areas of stress. Keep your phone away from your bed so your precious hours of sleep are not disturbed.
7. Nature Walk
Going for a walk in nature does wonders for the mind and body. Not only is walking one of the best forms of exercise, but spending time in nature has been shown to greatly improve our wellbeing, helping to ease depression, improve positivity and focus and strengthen immunity. So whether it’s the beach, the countryside or a park, get outside as often as you can (before or after work or at lunchtime) and reap the benefits of nature. Nature is also the perfect place to practise mindfulness; instead of a brisk walk from A to B, slow down and focus on how the ground feels beneath your feet, the various plants and animals you can see and all the different sounds you can hear.
Images by Rawpixel via Pixabay and Unsplash.