You’re busy. I’m busy. We’re all very busy people. When it hits 10pm, I often think to myself -where did the day even go? Through the hustle and bustle of it all, I find it really helpful to slow down my day and intentionally do some small things, just for me.
Is it only me who finds that the term “self-care” has carried with it a bucket-load of stigma through all these years? In a culture saturated and obsessed with prioritizing productivity and efficiency, “self-care” seems as if it should only be whispered about and spoken in hushed tones. I mean, how could one possibly have the audacity to take time out of their day to take care of themselves, whether that be mentally, physically, or emotionally?
Sarcasm aside, I think it’s extremely important to take some time out of the day for yourself, especially in this day in age -to have a mental check-in with your mind and body and make sure YOU are being cared for. And I’ve come up with 10 tips to help you with just that.
1. Have a daily ritual you look forward to.
Find something in the morning that brings you some joy and energy that is unique to you, whatever that is. For me, it’s recently been making myself a matcha latte. There’s something about physically using your hands to whisk the matcha powder, water, and milk together to produce something you know you will enjoy.
2. Put the phone down, sometimes.
This one’s pretty self-explanatory, and we hear this all the time. So why don’t we actually do it? We’re all humans and we like to stay connected with our friends, family, and peers -which is inherently a good thing. But not letting it entirely consume our minds, thoughts, and time is key and it would do us all some good if we actively took time out of our day to unplug from our screens and be present in the moment. Human contact is so underrated these days, isn’t it?
I know, after a long day of classes or work, reading seems like the last thing you want to be doing. But take it from someone who fell out of love with reading through university because it became synonymous with tedious textbook chapters and essays, but have now found myself reading for fun again -leisure reading is actually enjoyable and is very different than reading for academic or work purposes.
It was hard getting back into it, but when I am able to pick up a novel and just read -no distractions- it’s one of the most enjoyable and peaceful experiences, even if it’s only for 15 minutes. If reading physical books isn’t your thing, reading your Kindle or listening to podcasts can also help slow your mind down.
Some useful advice I’ve learned on how to read more is to intentionally set a time apart in your day just for reading. Whether this is first thing in the morning, on your daily commute, before you go to sleep -set a specific time, no matter how short or long, just for you to read and take a break from the screen.
4. Feet up.
This is a good one. And something I’ve only started doing recently in the past year. As we run all our errands or commute to our next class, we walk from one place to another in a hurry. By the end of the day, all the evidence of our busy day is in our sore feet. A nifty tip I learned is to lie on your bed or the floor and literally put your legs up against the wall after a long day. Just lie there, for however long as you need and that feels comfortable.
What are the benefits to this, you may ask? By letting your legs lie resting on a wall , it helps elevate your legs above heart level and this in turn helps increase circulation and venous drainage and reduces swelling or cramping in the legs and feet -a perfect reason to lie flat on the bed doing absolutely nothing for a good 5-10 minutes. (Or if you’re a real keener, you can multi-task and read a book while you’re at it -half kidding about this)
5. Let go of guilt.
As previously stated, all of us are busy. And we instinctively feel happy when we are able to cross things off our checklist. It seems as if it would actually be counterproductive in making time for self-care, right? For this exact reason, we can start to feel guilty about taking time for just ourselves and as a result, it’s easy to want to avoid it and simply go about our busy schedules and lives, but I think our take on self-care can be quite skewed at times.
Self-care is not self-indulgent or “doing nothing”. Arguably, self-care is absolutely crucial in that taking that time for yourself helps improve your own well-being and in turn, will boost your general productivity in the long run. It’s a whole lot better than trying to always be doing “something” with task after task until you eventually burn out. It’s good to be selfish sometimes.
6. Create your go-to playlist.
Unlike many things in our world today, music is something universally loved and appreciated by all. And even more so, music has the power to genuinely impact our mood, no matter the time of day. It’s practically scientifically proven that blasting music and busting a move helps reduce stress and increases endorphins in our bodies. So why not give it a try?
While a love for music is something we all have in common, we each have different tastes in music. So find the tunes that make YOU feel happy, at peace, ready to conquer the world, or even if it’s as simple as getting you to subconsciously start dancing.
7. Get some fresh air and take in the sunlight.
Whether you’re a student or working, you’re bound to be surrounded by screens and fluorescent lighting the majority of the day. You’d be surprised by how helpful it is for your mental well-being by taking time out of your day to do something as small and simple as taking a walk outside. It doesn’t matter if there’s no mountain or forest situated outside your classroom or office -even just taking a solo walk out on the streets, getting some fresh air and sunlight, and taking in all the wonderful little observations that is our world will do wonders for your mind and body before you head back to work.
8. Wake up 30 minutes earlier.
This one may arguably be one of the hardest ones to actually put into action. Waking up 30 minutes earlier may not seem like a big deal, but if you’re anything like me, I like my sleep. A lot. However, I’ve found that by doing exactly just this -waking up 30 minutes than I usually do -somehow makes my day a lot longer in a good way and helps energize my mind before the day begins.
And what do you do with this extra half an hour? Well, that’s really up to you. Take that time to do something that gives you peace of mind and relaxation. It can be anything, from sipping that hearty cup of coffee or tea, having a quick workout, prayer and self-reflection, listening to that feel-good playlist or podcast, to even just staring out the window and appreciating the world around you.
And also, you don’t have to do this every day of the week -I find even taking just one day of the week to wake up a bit earlier and having that extra time to yourself is plenty and will rejuvenate your mind to the fullest.
9. Embrace gratitude.
With a busy life comes a diversity of experiences, including encounters in our day that frustrate us, disappoint, anger, and annoy us. And as a result, we complain. If I could get a dollar for every time I’ve complained throughout the course of one day, I would -without a doubt -be rolling in money.
It’s human nature to only see and emphasize the bad things that happen to us and the things we lack in our life. But when complaining becomes more than frequent and starts to incorporate itself as a part of our general attitude in life, that’s when we know we’ve taken a turn for the worse and started down a road of overall unhappiness. I’ve been there, many times -it’s not a great place to be.
One of the best things I’ve found to get back on the “right road” is really to see the things in your life that are good -big or small, the overflowing blessings that are woven through your life that you probably aren’t really aware of on a daily basis, that thing or person you should be thanking your lucky stars that you have in your life. Before this turns all preachy, I’ll just leave it at that. Taking the time to intentionally think about the good things you already have in life will give you a good, healthy dose of perspective, and in this way, it is probably one of the best ways to practice self-care in your life.