How to Practice Self Care and Feel Better, More Alert, Focused and at Peace
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The concept of how to practice self-care has reached an enormous level of popularity recently.
If you scroll through nearly any social media feed geared toward the female audience, you’ll inevitably find features on beauty treatments, relaxation, or someone participating in “retail therapy” complete with the hashtag #selfcare at the bottom of the post.
The term “self care” takes on a number of different forms depending on who’s doing the talking, and there’s no one set way to achieve the “self care” you keep seeing across social media all of the time.
But when genuine self care is incorporated into your life, you’ll begin to see differences in your attitude, energy, how you feel physically and the level of peace you feel daily.
The Oxford Dictionary defines self-care as “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health”, and Psychology Today describes it as “mindfully taking the time to pay attention to you”.
The bottom line is, the genuine way to practice self-care isn’t buying a bunch of things you don’t need or taking fantasy spa days ad-nauseum.
Real self-care takes you back to a point where you reconnect with yourself in order to recharge, realign, and be a healthier you.
So how do we practice self care to genuinely feel and be better? Check out our list of twenty ways to practice self care, then read on to find out how to develop your own self care list to put into day use.
Find Out What Helps You Exhale
Self care looks slightly different for everyone. What works for you may be totally different than what works for me.
For example, sitting down to meditate in silence for ten minutes of morning self care may be just the thing to make your mornings sing and set you up for an enjoyable and productive day. Meanwhile, I may need a hot yoga session three times a week to find my inner-peace.
One of the best ways to start identifying a helpful self care routine is to explore the parts of your life in which you really feel relaxed and happy.
Perhaps that’s going for a walk or a jog when you get home from work, or maybe it’s taking the time to cook a big meal for yourself a couple of nights a week.
For some people getting to that place where you feel rested and recharged might actually mean spending time around other people!
Take some time and think about the last time you felt like you weren’t keeping track of the time, or when you last participated in an activity that you were easily able to get lost in. This is likely where you’ll want to escape to in your self care practice!
The way you practice self care doesn’t have to be one single activity, either. In fact, to be truly effective it shouldn’t.
Some days curling up alone with a book for an hour might be the very thing you need coming off of a high stress day. At other times having lunch, a cup of tea or a glass of wine with a couple of friends to connect might be your needed dose of decompression.
Don’t box yourself in. Know there’s more than one set avenue in which to practice self care!
Form a Routine
Once you’ve pinpointed some of the activities and moments in your life that bring you calm, peace, and focus, it’s time to start putting them into consistent practice.
If you’re anything like us then you’re day typically includes things like trying to juggle meetings while planning dinner, or making plans via text with a friend who really needs to vent while simultaneously talking to the vet on speaker phone about a weird tooth in your dog’s mouth.
All that’s to say that we get it: Practicing a consistent self care routine is often easier said than done. But if you start slow, you’ll be able to get into a better habit over time.
As you’re beginning to establish a routine, just carving out 15 minutes everyday to do something you enjoy solely for yourself can help you to initiate a habit of consistent self care.
Choosing the same time everyday (if possible) is key to developing a routine that you stick with.
For example, maybe every evening you take 20 minutes to stretch as part of an evening self care routine before starting bedtime activities with kids or reading.
As you consistently put your self care activities into practice, not only do you start making sure that a specific window of time is always open, but the people around you will take notice of that, too.
Soon the routine you develop will become a non-negotiable, and will be ingrained into your day just as much as other activities in your schedule.
Learn to Say No
One element of learning how to practice self care is learning to say “No”.
Yup. I know. This isn’t the first time you’ve heard it.
But learning when it’s not only appropriate, but important, to say no frees us up to practice the activities and experience moments that bring us calm and clarity.
In Sarri Gilman’s pivotal Ted Talk, she explains that good boundaries can free us, and that everyone’s life story is shaped by the things we’re saying “yes” to and the things we’re saying “no” to.
When we say yes to too many things (or the things we really don’t want to agree to), we become overwhelmed, exhausted and stressed out. It cultivates an environment that leaves little to no room for creating unfettered moments or to begin forming healthy self care habits.
Saying “no” might be one of the hardest self care practices to cultivate–most especially if you tend to be the people-pleasing sort. It can also be an indicator of whether or not you value your time over others’.
As women we’ve been taught from a young age to pitch in and help out, to be nuturers, to prioritize the desires of others over our own.
This feeling of always needing to give has skewed our perspectives.
We often fail to properly appreciate how crucial it is to establish boundaries that preserve and protect what feeds and encourages our own growth and development.
Saying “no” might feel strange at first if you’ve never done it. But getting into a healthier habit of prioritizing your time and mental wellbeing is one you’ll certainly grow to appreciate.
If you’ve made a conscious effort to start purposefully practicing that which will bring more calm and peace to your life, it’s a good thing. But don’t beat yourself up if it takes time to find your own balance.
Keep in mind that achieving some state of perpetual vibed out zen zone of self care is nearly impossible because, well, life.
Don’t discourage yourself if you’ve found that instead of sticking with your evening walk, you told your friend you would watch her kid while she ran an errand…Don’t get disheartened or judge yourself.
Self care is a journey that takes practice!
And if you want the help and support of others, let the people close to you know that developing self care habits is something you want to focus on. Ask them to encourage you in your journey in the ways that are most helpful and supportive to you.
Self-care should be a journey enjoyed, not another series of “have-to’s” to add to your already busy life.
Discovering how to practice self care in a way that is most meaningful for you, is effective and makes your life better is important.Take it slow and remember that you can start with gradually adding little things that together will increase their impact, and their overall results in your life.
Live life better by practicing genuine self care.
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Kimberly Clay is the founder and creative force behind What She Say. She’s a business professional, writer and editor who’s been creating and managing digital content for nearly twenty years. Her work is now focused in the areas of self-improvement and personal development, and she is passionate about helping other individuals, especially women, to find a path for living their best life.