By now over 80% of us who set New Year’s resolutions have given up on them. Actually that happened by the second week of February, according to U.S. News. I share that statistic not to depress you, but to point out that maybe our typical resolutions are not realistic. Often times our resolutions are well meaning, but don’t actually help us take care of ourselves. A lot of times we are investing in a new idea, but not in new mindset. What would it look like if we were to truly take on a new mindset? Not a rigid, inflexible one, like “I must go to the gym six days a week” or “I must not eat any carbs”, but “I will strive to do something for myself every day.” Self care is something we tend to neglect as the year goes on.
As a Therapist, sometimes I feel like I talk about self-care ALL THE TIME. Sometimes I feel that I sound like a broken record, but then I remember the reason I keep having to talk about self-care. Because as a society, we seem to be terrible at it! Think about it, you spend 40 hours a week or more working and the rest of your week must be divided between family, sleeping, and the mundane tasks of life such as paying bills. Where do we have time for ourselves?! Often times we don’t. Or we’re made to feel guilty about taking time for ourselves. Perhaps we think our friends would judge us, if we spent one night every week just doing something for ourselves. Perhaps we’re so tired, we don’t leave enough energy to do something for ourselves. Whatever the reason may be, we don’t devote enough time to taking care of ourselves.
For some reason, we tend to feel selfish when we do something for ourselves. Or we mistake something that is somewhat unhealthy for self-care. I’ll give you an example from my own life; I tend to be an emotional eater. It’s something that I am working on, but depending on the emotion I’m experiencing, I think of a way to experience it with food. If I’m sad, I need to eat something special to cheer me up, happy–I need to celebrate, basically whatever the emotion, I find a reason to connect it to food. With such habits, I could easily justify that one of my types of self-care is eating. And it can be, but not if it is emotionally driven eating. I am working on making my eating more mindful, so that it can become part of my self-care routine. But it is a work in progress.
My Top 4 Types of Self-Care
1. Working Out/Yoga
The best thing to counteract feeling sad/anxious/having a rough day is working out. Hands down no question asked, I always feel better mentally after working out. I also find that when I workout regularly, I have more energy overall and my sleep improves. When my sleep improves, then I have less cravings and am able to manage eating. It’s a lovely cycle of goodness when you start exercising regularly. If I don’t have time to go to the gym or to a yoga class, a nice long walk still does wonders for my well being. I highly recommend it! Exercise releases endorphins which naturally make you feel good and there have been quite a few studies supporting regular exercise as an antidote to anxiety and depression.
2. Spending Time with Family/Friends
I consider myself to be a shy extrovert, so I blossom when I’m around other people, particularly people I know well. When I spend quality time with those people who are more important to me, it helps me live more in the present moment. It’s a lot easier to be happier when you are able to focus on what is going on presently, rather than focusing too much on the past and the future. Being an adult, it is often challenging to make the time to spend with others just for fun. But it can make the biggest difference when you are able to incorporate this habit into your daily life. This past weekend I spent time with my group of closest girlfriends and I feel like it nourished my soul to spend time with some of my favorite people. We’re all so busy living our adult lives, but making time for our social lives is just as important as making time to eat healthy and go to the doctor.
3. Taking a Bath
Cliche as it may be, I just love baths. There’s just something so relaxing about sinking into a tub of hot water and relaxing for a bit. I’ve also noticed that it’s much easier to be mindful taking a bath rather than a shower. Showers always seem like a time where it is easy to ruminate (aka overthink things) or you are just in such a rush, you can’t remember whether you washed and conditioned your hair. But with baths, you can truly, mindfully relax and focus on yourself for a few minutes. My favorite way to take baths is to add epsom salt to relieve sore muscles, a few drops of lavendar oil, and every once in a while, a bath bomb.
4. Wearing Make-up
I genuinely love wearing make-up. It makes me feel composed and is a happy part of my routine in the mornings. Is it an absolute essential? No, this is not something I feel that I MUST do before I leave the house, it is something I like to do. Which is what makes it more of an aspect of self-care. But like baths, it helps me feel good just for the sake of feeling good.
So I invite you to join me and find something that you can truly do for yourself. Whether it’s reading a book, exercising, or crocheting. Find something you can enjoy and truly be in the moment with. Of course being truly in the moment is not as easy as it sounds,as our minds tends to wander. But as long as you can bring yourself back to what you are doing, back to your moment of enjoyment, you are taking care of yourself. Do this activity regularly. Write it in your planner, set reminder on your phone, treat it like you would anything else of importance in your life. It will help you truly love the life you live.