We hear about “self-care” a LOT! But it’s more than a bath with a glass (or two) of wine, a mani/pedi, or making sure you make it to the gym. Living in a world that glorifies multitasking, you have to give yourself permission to pause so that you can give the world the best of you instead of what’s left of you. Our overscheduled lives can make it seem like we don’t have adequate time to dedicate to ourselves. We have to let go of the illusion that we must set aside a certain amount of “me time” in order to be effective. A 10-minute walk is far more beneficial than the weekend getaway you might never get around to because you continue to prioritize other things over your own needs. You are not meant to be on the go 24/7. You are a human being, not a human doing! Sometimes you need to just BE, with no agenda, no to-dos, and not taking care of anyone other than yourself, even if only for a moment or two. Don’t wait until you are on the verge of exhaustion to prioritize your wellbeing (like I tend to do). After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup!
Another key to successful self-care is being intentional. We can all attempt to check out with social media and go down the rabbithole of our Instagram or Reddit feed. Before we know it, a half-hour or more has passed. But are we really allowing ourselves to reset by doing so? As much as it may seem like a “break” it may actually leave you feeling more depleted. Here are ten ideas to practice the pause:
Although getting lost in a novel is one of my favorite things, I get that some people just don’t really enjoy reading like I do. But you don’t have to commit to a 300-page book, go to a bookstore or library and just browse for a bit. Short on time? Read an article in your favorite magazine while you sit in a comfy spot.
They have some amazing adult coloring books these days. You don’t have to commit to finishing a page in one sitting either, there are no deadlines. A few minutes here and there and you’ll be able to admire your masterpiece in no time.
3. Do a puzzle
Focusing on putting together a puzzle helps quiet the mind, decreases stress, and improves your mood. Other benefits include improved memory, better problem-solving skills, increased attention to detail, improved visual-spatial reasoning and better collaboration if you’re doing a puzzle with others (although, I’ll admit that it can put your relationships to the test! haha). If you know other puzzle lovers, I recommend having a puzzle exchange so you don’t get bored with the same old ones.
4. Take a lap
Use your 10-15 minute breaks at work to stretch your legs and clear your head by taking a walk around the block. Plus getting in a little mini cardio sesh is good for your physical wellbeing too! Walking has proven to reduced the risk of heart disease and stroke, help with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, joint and muscle pain, make for stronger bones and better balance, increase your endurance and reduce body fat. Even better if you can work in a 30-minute walk or more a day.
5. Spend time in nature
Science has proven that experiencing a sense of awe is good for our mental health. We spend so much time in our own heads that it’s good for us to witness something that stops us in our tracks and reminds us that we are but a small part of something much larger. And what a better way to experience awe than to watch a beautiful sunset, witness wildlife on a hike, or stargaze? Live downtown and can’t get out of the city? Find the nearest park to go on a walk or sit on a bench and people watch. Anything that makes you feel more connected to nature and those around you (and maybe a little more humble too).
6. Take a nap
Napping is one of my favorite things, probably because you can’t overthink while asleep 🙂 Plus, napping in moderation has been proven to be good for your health, lowering the risk of heart problems and improving mood, memory, and performance (p.s. National Napping Day is the day after Daylight Savings time begins, tell the others.)
7. Learn something new
You don’t need to sign up for night classes or anything (unless you want to of course), just find something you want to know more about or a skill you’d like to learn and dedicate some time to it. Skillshare is a great resource if you’re trying to master (or just not suck at) something new. They have classes ranging from photography, watercolors, and graphic design to coding, productivity, and entrepreneurship. Click on the link to get 2 months of premium for free!
8. Get organized
Clutter causes chaos, chaos causes clutter. Clean up your workspace, your closet, your car, that kitchen cabinet that you can never find anything in, a corner of your room, or even just your purse. I promise you will feel accomplished and less stressed!
You don’t have to be a Buddhist monk or sit still for long periods of time to reap the benefits of a little meditation. Meditating for even 5 minutes can help rejuvenate your body and mind. By calming the mind you can become more reflective of yourself and your circumstances in order to better manage life’s challenges. Also, studies have shown that meditation combats stress better than other relaxation techniques when it comes to improving mood, feeling less emotionally exhausted, and even lowering blood pressure! Not to mention that EEGs show that the brain enters into a state of equilibrium, instead of typically being more left-brained (verbal analytical, rational) than right (emotion, creativity, intuition). This rebalancing actually boosts the immune system! I mean, what’s not to love!
10. Do anything that brings you peace and joy!
Craft, bake, garden, run, sing, paint, build, tinker, write, play a video game. Whatever makes you feel like you and allows you to think of nothing other than the task at hand. For me, it’s taking pictures and editing them. For my daughter, it’s drawing or baking. Find your thing and make time to do it. Spending time doing things you love will promote feelings of gratitude, which we all know is the true source of contentment.
So what can you do today to allow yourself to pause? I’d love to hear how you practice self-care!