It goes against popular thought, but I have to be honest with you — being self-indulgent is not a good basis for self-care practices. In the long run, this course leads to self loathing. Your body gets out of shape, your emotions become unruly and your spirit is stunted. The best self care practices take self-discipline, because you choose what’s good for you, rather than what feels good in the moment.
But getting tough with yourself is only part of the equation. When it’s your sole focus, it’s too easy to go to the extreme of getting down on yourself. That’s not helpful or healthful! We’ve had a lifetime to get where we are today. No doubt you’ve picked up some “baggage” along the way, like I have. It takes time to change your previous patterns, to create new ones that are in harmony with your higher purpose.
If nothing else, please take this away with you: The best self-care practices depend on self-compassion. Encourage yourself, not guilt yourself! Try to see each small step as progress and quit expecting perfection. It’s that negative, harsh self-talk that makes you want to quit, and you don’t deserve that. You wouldn’t talk that way to your best friend, would you?
The best self-care practices are also intentional. They don’t just happen. In your mind, consciously label an activity as self care — that it’s part of your “prescription” for wellness. After all, when a doctor prescribes a medication or course of action, you take it seriously, right? Well then, put your self care practices on that same level of importance and urgency, because your well-being depends on it!
When you truly care for yourself, you’ll have the energy to give of yourself and to live joyfully. As Steve Maraboli puts it so well, “Allow yourself to enjoy each happy moment in your life.” Perhaps the following list will give you some new ideas:
- Listen to your body. When you need down time, take it without feeling guilty.
- You don’t have to put up with stress triggers and Debbie Downers.
- Move, stretch, and breathe deeply often.
- Check in with your emotions. Sit quietly and name what you’re feeling, without judgment.
- Enjoy at least one hour of intentional silence every day; split it into 15-minute increments if that works best for you.
- Completely disconnect from your phone by a set time each day — no surfing the Net, no YouTube, no social media, just peaceful reflection on how this day has made your life richer.
- Learn to say no kindly, but firmly.
- Quit “making do” with that worn out shirt, broken can opener, or whatever it is you’re putting up with. You deserve something new.
- Do a mini-declutter and get rid of what doesn’t “spark joy” as Marie Kondo says.
- Dress up and admire yourself more often.
- Make a monthly “play date” with yourself and just enjoy your own company at the coffee shop, library, boutique, museum or whatever you fancy.
- Reconnect with something that gave you pleasure and filled your soul in the past – hiking and camping, listening to tunes, lighting candles, dancing around the room, a hobby.
- Take a blanket outside and do some cloud watching or star gazing.
- Create a new personal or family tradition.
- Make a new friend.
- Expand your mindfulness practice to eventually encompass all aspects of your life, by intentionally adding one new category per month, like driving, brushing your teeth, shopping, eating, breathing, walking, listening, etc.
- Read at least one book per month.
- Walk 15 more minutes than you usually do.
- Sign up for a course you’ve always wanted to take.
- Join an exercise class designed for your fitness level, so you don’t injure yourself or become discouraged.
- Hire a coach to keep you motivated toward a personal or professional goal.
- Join a community to get you out of your rut and meeting new people.
- Intentionally mix things up — lunch in the park, drive a different route to work, buy fresh veggies at a Farmer’s Market, etc.
- Reconnect with people who matter.
- Feed your inspiration.
- Look for five beautiful things each day and fully feel gratitude for them.
- Start a Kudos File, collecting and appreciating every compliment you receive.
- Do something special to enhance important relationships; within healthy relationships you’ll find that the more you give the more joy you receive.
- Do acts of kindness; what goes around comes around.
- Play and laugh — keep your inner child alive.
The best self-care practices are whatever you do deliberately to take care of your mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health. Do you have any self-care practices you’d add to this list? Please visit my Facebook page and share them. And remember to sign up for my Newsletter. I may be biased, but I think that reading it is one of the best self-care practices you can have.