With constant pivoting in response to the needs of our work, family, health, and goals, practices of self-care can sometimes find their way to the bottom of the list. The good news is, effective self-care practices need not take excessive amounts of time or money to be profoundly impactful on our mental, emotional, and physical health. Start small by incorporating one of the below self-care practices into your day per week.
1. Mini Meditation
While a daily 20-minute mindfulness practice has undeniable benefits to the practitioner, many folks find the commitment to sitting for an extended period each day to be inaccessible. Good news! Most people find the practice of just 1-3 mindful breaths to be an incredibly effective way to start the day with more focus and clarity.
Try: Upon waking, take 3 long, slow breaths. Focus the first breath on your physical body, the second on your heart, and the third breath on the idea of expansion, clarity, peace, or another concept that brings you a sense of calm. Tip: Place a note on your bedstand where you will see it upon waking to remind yourself to incorporate this daily practice until it becomes habit.
2. Say No
One of the easiest ways to bring peace and harmony into our relationships, work, and home, is to set and maintain healthy boundaries. Though practicing healthy boundaries may seem initially uncomfortable for folks in the habit of “doing it all,” the rewards of well-maintained boundaries are limitless. And though it has always been true that setting and maintaining good boundaries is essential to our health and happiness, during times of increased stress this practice is extra important.
Try: If you find yourself constantly saying ‘yes’ to the point that it interrupts your ability to take care of yourself, you may find this practice to be excruciating initially. But you have to start somewhere. The next time something is asked of you that you know you cannot accomplish without sacrificing your own care, simply say ‘no thank you.’ Tip: Try implementing a waiting period before you respond to any requests. By telling those who need your time, services, and skills that you need a day to get back to them on the request, you give yourself a chance to be really clear on whether the request is something you can-or can’t-deliver.
3. Power Walk
Never underestimate the power of fresh air! A short walk between meetings and daily tasks can have profound effects on our day. Bonus: if the sun is shining, your body will reap the benefits. According to the World Health Organization, 5-15 minutes of sunlight on the skin can boost the immune system, mood, increase vitamin D levels, improve sleep, and lower blood pressure.
Try: When possible, take work calls while walking. Schedule an after lunch walk around the block with a co-worker. Take 3-5 minutes outside the home or office to simply listen to the sounds of the outdoors, instantly refreshing the brain. Tip: Map out walks by the length of time it takes to complete them. Having a 5-minute, 20-minute, and 60-minute routes will make consistently squeezing in this rejuvenating habit a breeze.
4. Ask for Help
Sometimes the most powerful thing we can do for ourselves is ask someone to support us. By learning to clearly communicate when we are in need, we are much more likely to get support that will actually have a positive impact. Don’t be afraid to reach out to co-workers, neighbors, friends, and family for help. Most people will be exceedingly pleased to come to your service. Remind yourself that you are worthy of a balanced life with adequate space for your own needs.
Try: Choose one chore on your list to delegate to someone else. Make a point to use the time you would have spent accomplishing that task to tend to your own needs, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. Tip: When possible, hire professional help. By hiring a professional to take on looming tasks like house cleaning, home repairs, running errands, and gardening, additional space in our day opens up for activities that feel more meaningful to us
5. Epsom Salt Shower
The benefits of soaking in an Epsom salt bath range from alleviating muscles aches, calming anxiety, increasing magnesium levels in the body, reducing inflammation, and even improving the quality of sleep. However, a busy schedule may not allow for a long soak in the tub. In a pinch, turn an evening shower into an Epsom salt foot soak. Simply plug the drain while showering, add 1-2 cups of Epsom salt to the floor of your tub or shower, and allow your feet to “soak” while showering.
Try: For additional soothing benefits, include a couple drops of a calming essential oil like lavender or chamomile to the salted water. Tip: Adjust the tap to cold at the end of your shower for a 30-second “cold plunge” to boost the immune system.
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