Five Easy Ways to Practise Self-Care Daily
It can be a real challenge to try to practise self-care regularly if you are not conscious in the way that you prioritise yourself.
If you are anything like me and you have a mountain of other things on your mind during the day that you prioritise over yourself, then you’ll know just how hard it is to feel like you can take care of yourself properly.
Sometimes the thought of self-care can be overwhelming because we always see people posting complex or luxurious rituals that they use to pamper themselves, but the truth is, treating yourself does not equate to self-care (I talk about that a little bit here).
When we set expectations around what self-care should look like in relation to what somebody else’s self-care routines are, it is no wonder that we may get overwhelmed by the idea of having to take time for ourselves. Your self-care routine does not have to be extravagant for it to be meaningful. When you have so many other things on your plate, you shouldn’t be stressing out about the fact that you haven’t been able to find the time to take a soak in the bathtub, or to lay back with a sheet mask while getting a mani-pedi (assuming people still go out and do those things in our pandemic ridden lives).
Here are five easy ways to incorporate self-care into your day that will help kickstart a habit of investing time in yourself down the track:
Acknowledge how you are feeling at least once a day
This is something you can do at any point of the day, and it is a really great opportunity for you to take quick stock of where you’re at emotionally and mentally during your day. If you’re the kind of person who likes to keep records, this may be a good one to add to your planner, calendar or journal.
Each day think of one feeling that was the strongest one you had during that day (or if you do this in the mornings or earlier in the day, maybe use the last 24 hours) and say that feeling out loud. It can be as a phrase or as a single word, for example: Angry, or “I am angry.”
This gives you a chance to slow down whatever is happening for you at that moment and acknowledge the feelings that you are having. This is really important because we often try to force our way through some of the more difficult feelings we have without actually acknowledging that we are having them.
Have you ever heard the phrase “feel your feelings?” Well, this is it. Things become a lot more real for us when we acknowledge them out loud, and it is important that we take a moment to do so. If the feeling that has stuck with you is a positive one then it’s a great way for you to acknowledge just how much of an impact that feeling may have had on you. If it is a complicated one, then it also gives you a chance to let the reality of that feeling sink in so that you can begin to work through it in a way that works best for you.
15 second focused breathing
This one works really well at the end of the day I think, but you can do it any time.
As the title suggests, you take 15 seconds of silence and just take several deep breaths, focusing on the time you take to breathe in and out.
This may seem a little silly at first. How is this self-care? I hear you ask. Well let me tell you:
We’re often on the move so much, with so much on our minds that we very rarely get the opportunity to think about how we manage our breathing. How often do you actually inflate your lungs fully, and release ALL of the air that you have before drawing another breath? Unless you are focusing on your breathing all the time, I doubt that you are thinking about taking in a deep breath every time you do breathe.
Also here’s the obvious one: blood oxygen circulation. Those deep breaths are actually genuinely good for your body, and 15 seconds a day is all you need to start with.
This may seem really elementary but it is so important to be active in your decision to drink water. If you’re thirsty then it’s a sign that you may already be dehydrated, and though it may be tempting to put any number of other liquids into your body like tea, coffee, some miscellaneous drink ending in -ade, the best option is always going to be water.
Apart from the obvious physical health benefits of being properly hydrated, having a good habit of drinking water can help you maintain other healthy habits too, such as a better relationship with your eating habits, better sleep, temperature control, and mental clarity.
The easiest way to ensure you’re drinking water daily is to fill a bottle in the morning and take it everywhere with you. I never leave the house without my drink bottle. If you treat your bottle with the same importance as your trinity of phone-wallet-keys then it makes it easier to get your daily water intake.
Another way to build your water drinking habit is to start and finish your day with a glass of water. Keep one beside your bed, fill it in the morning and completely drain the glass before doing anything else. Do the same before you go to sleep.
Eat without distraction
I struggle with this one, but on the days I get it right I genuinely feel much better. My distraction is usually TV, and when I’m out of the house, it’s my phone.
How is eating without distraction self-care? It helps you to be present in the process of eating.
For one thing, when we’re doing multiple things at once, we’re not able to fully engage in any of the activities taking up our focus. For another, being distracted during meals can have significant health implications.
Think of it as pouring a little into several glasses, as opposed to one full glass at a time. Sometimes the impact of being distracted, or focusing on multiple things, is minimal. But when it comes to eating, it can be easy to overlook just how much you are impacted by distractions.
If you’re watching TV, or scrolling on your phone, or sitting behind your computer screen, then in reality, your meal is not the star. It’s the supporting role. You become less aware of the physical cues your body is sending you as you eat. You’re more likely to overeat if you are distracted, and you’re less likely to complement your meal with some water or something to hydrate you.
When you remove the distraction, you can pick up on your body’s cues much easier. That might mean that you put your phone out of reach, turn the TV off or leave your desk to eat. Take the time to enjoy your meal. Enjoy it with your full attention, and use it as a chance to connect with yourself.
Limit screen time before bed
To be fair, limiting screen time at any time during the day should be a priority.
We’re always so engrossed by the technology in our lives, to the point where I’m sure that many of us wouldn’t know what on earth to do with all of the time we had on our hands if we didn’t have our devices within arm’s reach all the time.
I understand that it may not be realistic to limit screen time during the day, especially if you are in a work environment that relies on you using a computer or other device. You can’t necessarily control that, so it makes sense to feel like you need to disconnect from the world with some mindless scrolling every now and then. That mindless scrolling can give you the illusion that you are connecting without the stakes of having good to actively connect to or with the people that you see online. But think about the last time you mindlessly scrolled. How much time did you lose doing that?
I use the word “lose” because the truth is, if you’re not doing anything other than staring at the screen and leaving it feeling no more enriched than you did when you started, then realistically you’ve lost that time.
I think sometimes that its easy to convince ourselves that it’s time well spent, or time to ourselves when we are scrolling, or staring at a screen, but we’re not using our devices to enrich our time alone.
The easiest time to start curbing your screen time in the day is just before bed. If your phone has app limits or screen limits, you should consider setting them for around 45 to 30 minutes before you go to bed. Not only does it do wonders for you in terms of allowing your mind to wind down, but it’s a great opportunity for you to genuinely disconnect from all of the “noise” in your life, and hopefully go to sleep feeling more rested.
So what now?
These are all simple and actionable ways that you can start developing a good daily self-care regimen. There isn’t anything more required from you than remembering to do them. You can incorporate these into your day without needing to make the time to take care of yourself. For instance, drinking water requires no more effort than making the cup of coffee that you would have otherwise had in the morning.
If you’ve been trying to be more mindful about practicing your own self-care, let me know how you started out!