As the New Year is well underway and our exciting plans are taking shape, I felt it is high time for some self-care loving. I am a true believer of self-care, primarily because I have experienced long (very long) period without any practice in my life.
It’s the perfect time to re-gather and build a strong mindset for all the activities planned and goals I want to reach this year.
2018 was a very exciting yet upturning year. I started it off with an intense retreat in Bali, where I got to uncover and strip off a lot of my BS (and clothes!) with the amazing team of Naked – The Retreat (Btw, highly recommended if you are ready to discover your truths!). From this retreat, I learnt many tools; a few of which I have managed to implement in my life after the retreat that have had a very positive impact on myself and on relationships around me.
Something I keep telling my self: “vision yourself in 6/12 months time.” And then I ask, “how do you want to feel?”
This helps me set the scene; “how do I want to feel in my greatest form?” From this vision, it will be easier to set short-term goals on how you wish to achieve that feeling.
In this post I re-visit some top 5 self-care practices (and tips) that help me stay in focus, and confident to excel in everything I do.
Self-Care Practice 1: Exercise
Mayo Clinic suggests that 30 minutes of exercise per day “can lead to enormous benefits in terms of your mood, health, weight and the ability to live an independent and fulfilling life.”
I have spent more time practising yoga (still not as much as I would like to, but its always better than nothing). This has helped me prevent all my recurring neck and backaches, and gain strength and stamina. Feeling physically aligned and strong helps my productivity and clarity. If you haven’t stretched or done any exercise in a while, ease into your practice with the help of props like yoga blocks (here’s how to use yoga blocks), and straps to help you deepen and develop your strength and flexibility again.
What’s your exercise routine?
Find a type of exercise or sport that you enjoy and want to develop. Turn it into practice and celebrate new performance goals reached. Or simply enjoy the moment you are doing it.
I find alternating yoga with something a little more strenuous a good combination. When I’m not blissful in a warrior pose, I’m punching boxing bags at the gym!
Self-Care Practice 2: Meditation
“When the breath wanders, the mind is unsteady, but when the breath is still, so is the mind still.”
Ancient Yoga Principle.
I started to explore the concept of meditation just over 6 years ago. There are loads of meditation techniques that I won’t be getting into here. Being able to quiet down the body and mind is no simple task; I must say I’m no guru nor have I spent hours on end meditating.
What I DO know, is that every time I engaged in daily meditation practice I felt more grounded and much calmer. Through meditation, I am also able to give so much gratitude to myself and others.
As a beginner to meditation or even just looking for a tool to help your practice, I recommend Insight Timer app, which you can download to your phone. It’s become my go-to source for guided meditation according, music for sleeping, yoga practices, talks and podcasts.
Meditation also doesn’t need to be quiet. Meditation can also be done with music, through dance, art or any activity that you mindfully and with full awareness carry out.
Self-Care Practice 3: Compassion & Gratitude of thy self!
Positive Affirmations & Gratitude Lists? Yes!
I truly believe that our minds and negative self-talk are major contributors to some types of depression or the feeling of lack.
Start the day with 1 positive affirmation that you will repeat and carry with you throughout the day. Tell yourself “I AM WORTH IT.” “I AM EXTRAORDINARY.” “I AM UNIQUE.” Because, guess what? YOU ARE!
At the end of the day, try to list 5 things you are grateful for and bathe in that gratitude. It’s such an uplifting feeling. This exercise (when I do it!) really brings happiness into my life, focusing my energy on what I do have rather on what I don’t have.
Self-Care Practice 4: Brain Dumping
Brain dumping is a form of journaling. The first thing you engage in when you wake up is your journal – offload any thoughts through your pen onto the paper. It’s the best way to start your day, clearing off any “extra” thoughts that may be clouding your focus.
This exercise was introduced me at Naked – The Retreat, known to the participants as “Mo(u)rning Pages”.
Each morning, we were prompted with a sentence and for 30 minutes would let the pen dump any thought that comes through.
Using prompts are great when you are stuck as to what to write. When this happens, I literally write every small thought that comes up. “What am I going to wear to that meeting?” “Do we have bread?” “Oh crap I forgot to call back Lex last night!” … without getting caught up on the thought itself, this then leads to more profound thoughts and feelings and at the end of the 30 minutes you’re starting your day MUCH lighter, and BS-free!
Self-Care Practice 5: Relaxation
When time (and money) allow, I treat myself to a spa session or a massage by a therapist. But self-massage should also not be dismissed. Yoga International recommends daily self-massage for 5 reasons. Apart from the health benefits of massage (especially if you suffer from poor circulation!) the very act of touching yourself and getting to know your body is so nurturing. Give yourself an act of kindness, frequently.
It’s useful to learn some easy self-care relaxation methods especially useful in anxious or stressful moments. If my emotions are intense I like to dance and shake… Sometimes a good scream or exaggerated laugh also helps!!
There are other techniques such as EFT (emotional freedom technique) particularly useful when anxiety creeps up, or feelings of fear arise. This effective tapping technique is paired with positive talk and affirmations that help you self-guide your way through stressful situations.
What are the benefits of Self Care?
Through my experience, (and very very briefly put!) self-care practices help to develop strong internal foundations. A variety of practices also help to establish happiness within. Yep, happiness is something inside of us that cannot be sourced outside. How many times are we going to engage in relationships, repeating the same patterns, or buying things that don’t really serve us, truly and intrinsically?
I love to reference Robin Sharma’s 4 Internal Empires – without building your internal empire you cannot carry on your journey to success and wealth. First, you need to take care of your:
(Especially if you are setting up or running your own business check out his video series – The Victim to Hero Leap)
Self-care goes beyond the five practices I mention. But these positive habits are the ones I feel help me strengthen that internal framework I need to continue with my life, “like a boss!”
Why do I recommend ‘Self-Care’?
- I have experienced the above practices – not religiously, but often enough to realise the differences when I do have a morning routine vs when I don’t.
- Loving myself is the backbone to happiness; it only exists within and can never be found outside.
- I matter! And I want to know that every damn day!
- Putting ME first and giving that first waking hour to myself is the most important thing I’ve done in my life!