If you have ever been on an airplane, you have likely heard the following, “In case of emergency, oxygen masks will drop down in front of you. Please pull the mask down toward your face and place the mask over your mouth and nose. If you are traveling with a child, please attend to yourself first, then the child.” The underlying message is one we can use on and off an airplane – take care of yourself before taking care of others. Think about what activities you do daily that allow you to care for others, whether it be your family, employer, coworkers, or friends?
Sadly, most of us end up neglecting ourselves at one point or another, and as a result, we end up battling health issues, gaining weight, struggling with stress and feeling generally unhappy.
If the above applies to you, think about what things fill your emotional and energetic gas tank. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Practice gratitude. Think (and thank!) five people who love and support you. Try doing it before your feet hit the floor every morning, and if you forget, it never hurts to have a sticky note waiting for you on the bathroom mirror as a little reminder).
- Stretch before you even get out of bed. If you have a pet or a baby, you may notice that the first thing they do before getting up from a nap is stretch. Enjoy how it feels!
- Wake up a few minutes before the rest of your family – use this time to meditate or journal.
- Check your breathing – when we are stressed/anxious we often hold our breath. If you catch yourself holding your breath or sighing, slow down and practice deep breathing.
- Try aromatherapy. Diffuse some high-quality essential oil in your home or office.
- Drink plenty of water (half your bodyweight in ounces).
- Listen to music that you love on your commute to work.
- Eat food that nourishes and energizes your body.
- Move your body. Our body creates and holds onto stress, and exercise is a great way to release it.
- Make time for sleep. This can’t be stressed enough — our body needs time to recover from the day and most of us do not receive enough sleep. (This includes children — they need a lot more sleep than adults do).
- Do whatever it takes to treat yourself with kindness and compassion. Don’t give space to negative self-talk, but rather, view yourself through the eyes of someone who loves you.
- Create a Gratitude Jar. This is a great family activity where each day, everyone writes down what they are thankful for and places their piece of paper in the jar. Once the jar is full, you can reflect on all you have to be grateful for together as a family.
- Do something each day that involves all five senses — sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch. By doing this you are establishing routines that will help to keep you centered and able to support others in your life.
Self-care also means:
- Scheduling time for massages, acupuncture and a mindfulness practice.
- Reaching out and maintaining friendships which nourish you.
- Allowing time for creativity – be it cooking, crafting, gardening, making music, etc.
- Take time to enjoy what is going on around you – listen to the birds, feel the sun on your skin, appreciate the changes each season brings.
- Journal, meditate or spend quiet time without the distraction of technology.
- Use your vacation time (many people don’t use all of their time off).
- There will be time in your life when you feel overwhelmed and may forget what is helpful for you. It is for those days that I encourage people to create a specific self-care tool box, which includes a list of activities.
- Everyone will have a different routine and it is important to remember no one tool or self-care practice will work every time. Your tool box should include the flexibility to get rid of what is no longer working and have space for new tools.
Enjoy the journey and finding your optimal health using self-care! Please let us know what self-care practices keep you healthy and happy in the comments below or interesting in experiencing Integrative Health Coaching!
For more information, contact Kim Oliva, Integrative Health Coach