15 Simple Steps to Self-Care
In an era of bio-hacking, fasting, cleansing, detoxing, brushing, pulling, moon bathing, charging, and diets for ketosis, mucus free, inflammation free, gluten free, sugar free, and even apps for every convenience from sleep tracking to meditating, it’s often hard to remember the most fundamental elements of self-care.
2020 doesn’t need to be raced into with some kind of 30-day challenge or sudden need to jump to the gym on Jan 1 like I’ve witnessed so many Americans do for the first week to week and a half of the year....year after year. This is the same with any goal. 2020 could include creating new habits that turn to routine. Then that routine turns to ritual as it becomes something you must carve the time out for without excuse. Rituals of self-care mean the time is your time...something you own as you take control of your life and create your own experience. What does that look like for you?
Here are some ideas that you may have forgotten that will help you navigate stress from the holidays to the everyday that can be implemented alongside your resolutions.
1. Take time for you.
Identify the actions and activities that make you feel good. Is it a pick-up game of soccer, morning yoga, a boxing class, a bike ride, a long swim in the ocean, baking, gardening, roaming, reading...?? Whatever it may be, remember that taking time for you to do you may be the pick-me-up you are begging for. So instead of having to ask for it, why not remember that you need to hold that time...whatever that may look like...just for you.
2. Find somewhere in your neighborhood where you can go and be alone.
This is a space that is just for you and you alone. A place where all you need to do is put your shoes on walk to. Oftentimes the stress of a living situation just needs some distance. It’s a very human thing to have favorite familiar corners of the world. Maybe you need one of these to actually meditate or simply to be in peace. It doesn’t have to be fancy...for me I used to go to the same fig tree in Ibiza over the summer and just sit by myself, eat figs, and write. Mmmm.
3. Prioritize sleep and going to bed early.
We all know the terms, “Sleep on it” and “Get your beauty sleep.” It is no secret that getting more sleep makes us feel less overwhelm, allows for quicker muscle recovery, clearer thinking, and it benefits the hormones, the skin, the digestion, our mental health, and ultimately our productivity. This is the one I’m personally working on the most too and often a little reminder goes a long way. Set yourself an alarm to go to bed instead of to wake up.
4. Eat and drink more living foods and living water.
We have 3 choices everyday in terms of how we consume and how we fuel our bodies. Regardless of the diet you have or where you are living, your whole system thrives on water - primarily sourced from plants, fruits and vegetables in their raw form. Have more juice, drink more coconuts, munch more greens, and feel more vibrant!
5. Go on artist‘s dates.
Remember the book, The Artist‘s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron? Not just popular with actors, writers, and creatives, this book has helped many with its often overlooked assignments to help you unblock. One that has particularly stayed in my life apart from journaling, is going on Artist‘s Dates. This means going out somewhere by yourself for the simple pleasure of exploration - be it to a museum, to try a new restaurant, to explore a new part of town, to go out salsa dancing, or to head to the spa. Whatever it is, go and do it...alone!
6. Take a day off of work if you need to.
If you are feeling your productivity or even your health suffering, observe how things do or do not fall apart from just taking a day off of work or being a day behind on a deadline. And I mean a full day off from working on your to-dos...a full day of presence with yourself, your health, your loved ones, your community. If things do fall apart with your business, then perhaps it is a good indication that you need to refine your systems and eliminate or outsource,
As a Yoga teacher, the most important and frequent thing I must do is to remind students to inhale and exhale. It’s true! People forget to breathe! So often we are not inhaling deeply, which means we are regularly operating from our fight-or-flight nervous system, creating more stress and cortisol in the body. So next time you find yourself in a nervous, nerve-racking, or intense situation, place your right hand on your belly, your left hand to the heart, close your eyes and breathe in through your nose nice and deep filling up your belly and your lungs and then exhaling slowly out your mouth. Repeat as needed until you feel you’ve come back to your center. I practiced this backstage so many times before giving speeches, performing, teaching, etc. Remember no one can steal your breath.
8. Light exercise is still exercise and learn to add more in.
Feeling embodied doesn’t have to be a full-on 2-hour yoga class or a super sweaty HIIT session where your muscles feel super fatigued afterwards. I’m here to tell you that moving your body doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Put on some walking shoes, answer emails while out for a stroll, take the steps, park and walk, do a shortened 20 minute yoga home practice...whatever it is...it adds up if you approach exercise as something to be done with ease. As this means it gets easier and more effortless and next thing you know your stroll turned into a 1 hour hike with the dogs and your yoga practice became your new morning ritual. You don’t need to ‘go big or go home.’ You may just need to stay home and keep it simple.
9. Listen to your favorite music around the house.
It’s amazing how music can transport us. Put on whatever takes you to the mood you need. Mornings for me are for dance music, afternoons are for Afro-cubism, and evenings are for blues, samba, and sound bowls. Love your show-tunes and throwbacks? Oldies or Top 40? Own it.
10. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good.
So often we obligate ourselves to people and activities that we feel we should do but don’t want to. Or we put up with people who bring us down in an effort to help them. Be kind to yourself and spend your time only with those people who mirror your energy and don’t pull from it as that can be incredibly draining...especially in a living situation. Set your boundaries, carve out your time, have your rituals, and identify those secret and sacred spaces near your home that no one knows about and where you don’t have to explain yourself.
11. Support local businesses, farmers, and charities.
We all crave to belong somewhere. I know I do. So this one especially helps us cultivate a sense of community in the spaces where we live. By shopping local, caring about our neighbors, and participating in activities that make a difference for those directly around us, we are creating our tribe. Plus it feels good to give back and to be considerate.
12. Try something new.
Similar to the artist’s dates but more with a long-term intention, try something new that maybe you’ve always wanted to. Put your mind to learning a new language through audiobooks, taking a Qi Gong class, pop in for a float, try cooking more of your own meals, ask someone new out on a date...it doesn’t have to be big or be bold...but as I like to say, “Never try, never know!’’
13. Be old-school.
Write letters, send postcards, have dinner parties, DIY your gifts, bake your own gf bread, volunteer, carry a handkerchief, walk on the outside of the sidewalk for a lady, help someone who needs a hand, go ask for ingredients from your neighbor and encourage them to do the same, leave voice messages (not voicemail), and show up for your friends by attending their performances, their parties, their yoga classes, etc.
14. Learn to say no.
Know your limits and try to manage your energy. It’s ok to take a night to stay in for getting more rest, to take a bath, to finish a project, or to watch a movie. It’s ok to say no to work that doesn’t feel like you can manage the time. It’s ok to say no to someone who doesn’t make you feel good. But do realize when you are saying no to everything and shutting yourself in....
15. Have spa night.
Yes, I saved the best for last. Self-care is not just taking baths and dry brushing but what kind of self-care guide would this be without the best part of self-care? What does it mean to look after your body? Do you tongue scape in the mornings, dry brush, use natural body scrubs, do hair and face masks, get manicures, groom your hair, go for a massage, sit In the sauna, do oil pulling, use body oil, or floss? No better time spent in self-care in my opinion than in taking a hot bath while watching a cheesy rom-com, doing masks, and scrubbing and brushing, etc....having a hot cacao elixir and then heading off to sleep.
Remember self-care is not optional, it is essential. Be kind to yourself because you too are a living, breathing, and growing being. Be oK with being a work-in-progress and embrace your mistakes with more self-compassion. Create space for you.
Love and Light,