So what is all this self-care hype about??  Believe it or not…self-care is not just about bubble baths and sweet smelling lotions and smiling while you nibble on dark chocolate. It can also look like adding in restorative habits or cutting out toxic ones. Below are six simple tips to help you slow down and take a little better care of yourself:

1. Set a timer for 1 minute and journal about what you are grateful for. Just 1 minute! You can do this! You can make a list of several things or write about the different qualities of one thing or person that you appreciate.

Are you one of those people who has filled countless journals?? Or has journaling just never been your thing? My journaling game has really been nonexistent since I was 13. But this year I got a new planner that has a section for you to write something you are grateful for every day and it has been very life-giving and contentment-breeding for me. Practicing gratitude is absolutely a type of self-care because it lifts your mind out of any negative ruts you’ve created and focuses you on the abundance you enjoy.

2. Say something positive about yourself to your face in the mirror. About your body, personality, capacity, anything.

Let’s get real about self-talk. The voice in your head is probably the one you hear the most…so make it a good one!! My inner script has come a long way in the past several years. I’m going to be super honest with you guys…I can remember looking in the mirror and grabbing my belly rolls, I’d press my arms against my sides to make them look flabbier and gross myself out in order to motivate myself to restrict more, I said to myself “ugh you’re so fat” countless times. I also used to HATE my profile…especially the right side because I have a birthmark on my jawline that looks like I was testing out a shade of too-dark foundation. (People have tried to help me wipe it off before!) Now I like it. It’s part of what makes me unique.

3. Elevate one of your daily hygiene or grooming activities in one of two ways:

1) Perform the task with more care and mindfulness. You may be aggressively scrubbing your teeth, face, or body and not even realize it. Touching your body with kindness reinforces to your mind that you care for and value it.
2) Up the pamper factor. Examples: take the time to massage a lotion into your skin after your shower, brush your hair a little longer than usual, use a facial mask instead of your nighttime cleanser, or (yes the token self-care act) take a bath instead of a shower.

Does practicing self-care feel like adding yet another item to your to-do list? It doesn’t have to be! You already do several practical acts of self-care everyday by way of basic grooming and hygiene practices…but you may not be getting the biggest bang for your buck. Who else finds themselves walking around the house with their toothbrush stuck in their mouth trying to multitask while brushing? 🙂

I have found that the more I respect and care for my body on the outside makes it feel easier and more natural to care for my insides through what I eat.

4. Choose an activity that sounds GOOD to how your body is feeling TODAY.

There are THOUSANDS of blog posts are out there about how to get yourself to the gym/make yourself work out/push yourself harder when you don’t feel like it. How about this…if you’re having a reeeeally hard time getting yourself to work out, maybe you need to rethink what you’re doing for exercise?

Running is great. Weight training is great. Barre is great. Cycling, yoga, climbing….they are all excellent ways to get active and keep your body healthy. BUT if you are struggling through a HIIT routine because your body was really craving a more restorative activity, not only are you missing out on different physical benefits but you are also putting yourself at higher risk of injury and mental stress. IT IS OK TO SKIP A PLANNED WORKOUT. Listen to what your body is telling you. Do your muscles ache more than you expected from your weight lifting yesterday and you know a good stretch on the yoga mat would feel amazing? Do it. Do you feel sluggish but know if you jumped around in a cardio class with other gym-going folk you’d feel energized? Do it. I’ve actually found that the more I switch up my exercise routine, the more impact I feel from each workout session and my body is more well rounded in its abilities!

This may not be the fanciest yoga pose but it’s one of my favorite. Lay on your back and hug your knees to your chest. Then place your palms on top of your knees and stretch them away from you while keeping your shoulders on the ground. You’ll feel a great release in your back.

 

5. Tune into your hunger and eat when your body is telling you. Not when the clock says it’s time. And not just when you’re done working for the day.

With the push towards mindful and intuitive eating, I sometimes find myself feeling guilty when I multitask while I eat. And then I realized…I HAD CREATED A NEW RULE FOR MYSELF.  I was telling myself that I HAD to have every meal sitting down (definitely not driving), phone down, computer closed, and only focused on the food. While that is AWESOME and I love eating without distractions…sometimes it’s just not possible! Sometimes it’s either multitask while eating or not eat. So I’m here to remind you…it’s better to go ahead and eat when you’re hungry. If you push those sensations aside, they’ll only come back with a vengeance later and you may find yourself unable to choose/make a nourishing option because you’re so hungry.

6. Build in regular check-ins with yourself throughout the week to ask: “What is it I could really use right now?” To get outside? Quality time with a friend? Alone time? A really satisfying meal? Maybe a nap?

Often times when we gloss over those little niggling feelings that something is off, we make up for it in other ways, like overeating or lashing out at others or feeling anxious. Regularly checking in with yourself allows you to tend to basic needs before they escalate.

I hope this has given you a few ideas to add to your self-care toolkit! I’m going to leave you with my current favorite resources about self-care:

READ: An article about what self-care really means

LISTEN: A podcast discussing the effect of self-care on your health

WATCH: A series of TED talks about different aspects of self-care…definitely watch the “Why Dieting Doesn’t Usually Work” video!

DO: 10-minute yoga practice with Yoga with Adriene focusing on self-care…although I’d argue that all yoga is a form of self-care. 🙂