Why is self-care so important?
In today’s world it’s all too easy to forget the importance of self-care. Yet, the benefits of practising self-care are numerous and vital. By taking time to look after our mental, physical and emotional health we can improve our mood and reduce anxiety. Furthermore, we can also improve our relationship with ourselves and others. All too often we dismiss our thoughts and the little warnings our bodies and minds give us when we’re pushing ourselves too hard. If we practise self-care, it becomes easier to tune in and listen to ourselves. Once we listen to ourselves, it then becomes easier to listen to others. There’s a phrase I rather like that really rings true here for me: ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup’. It’s so true. If you give nothing to yourself, how can you give to others?
More than just a day
Self-care is something that we need to practise every day. For example: politely saying no a little more often, scrolling through social media less often or taking time to simply be, with no agenda, for a small portion of every day.
For the purposes of this post, however, I’d like to share some self-care tips & tricks that you can include in a self-care day. By setting aside one day in your week to take care of yourself, my hope is that it will become more natural to you to include some of these suggestions in your everyday routines.
Seven Self-care tips & tricks
Practise Yoga & Meditation
Whether you go to a regular class, or you practice at home, taking time to practise yoga and meditation allows us to open and strengthen the body and mind. I like to practise Yoga first to prepare myself for deeper meditation.
A great sun salutation practice to prepare you for meditation can be found by clicking HERE.
Immerse yourself in water
There’s nothing quite as relaxing as having a bath. Light some candles, burn your favourite incense and perhaps listen to some soothing sounds. One of my favourite apps is Relax Melodies where you can play single sounds such as the wind blowing or waves lapping or create your own mixes where you play a few sounds at the same time.
If you’d like a more eco-friendly option than having a bath, wild swimming is a fantastic way to reconnect with yourself and nature. Invest in some noodles (long, foam water floats) and you can lie, supported by the water, and a little help from your noodles, looking up at the sky. Then, just breathe.
Be in nature
Lie down on the grass in your garden or local park. Simply connect with your breath and listen to the natural sounds around you. The other day I lay down on the grass beneath a little tree covered in red berries, closed my eyes and tuned in. I heard birds flying overhead and singing their beautiful songs. I felt the rise and fall of my breath. The wind rustled through surrounding trees. The list goes on. It was such a soothing experience to be supported by mother nature and brought me back to the present moment. I felt lighter in myself.
Practise Self massage
It’s certainly worthwhile taking time to experience massage on a regular basis. In Western culture, we see massage as an indulgence or something we seek when we’re already in a lot of pain. However, in Eastern culture, massage is like drinking water – a vital part of everyday life and sought out to prevent ourselves from experiencing pain. In between regular massages, carrying out your own self massage is a wonderful way of tuning in to what’s happening in your body. Here are a few steps you can follow to help soothe two common problem areas:
Neck and Shoulders:
- Apply a little massage oil or moisturiser to your neck and shoulders.
- Bring your left ear to your left shoulder.
- Using your left hand, rotate your knuckles down the scalene muscles on the right side of your neck.
- You can then use your forefinger and middle finger to apply pressure along the muscles which will be taut from the stretch.
- Continue applying this pressure with your fingers along the tops of the shoulders.
- You can then squeeze and rub along the tops of the shoulders.
- Repeat on the other side by bringing your right ear to your right shoulder.
NB: Always consult your doctor or health care provider before carrying out self massage.
Inspirational reading for self development
Take some time to read books or articles that inspire you. Reading helps us gain knowledge and new insight. There is always something new to learn that can further our ability to understand something about ourselves and others.
“Do not fight your negative emotions. Observe and befriend them.”
Take a nap
Twenty minutes is apparently all you need to improve mood and alertness. If you’re going for a longer nap, 90 minutes is best as you should have enough time to complete one sleep cycle. I’ve recently been napping more and I find it really helps me shake off grogginess or headaches from overtiredness. Try it out and see what sort of timing works best for you.
No phones, no internet, no talking. Take some time to sit or lie down without the distraction of modern life or animated conversations. Even if it’s just for half an hour. You’ll be surprised what you can learn about yourself when you give your brain some space to do its thing. You might mull over something on your mind, you might deepen and follow your breath or you might drink your tea in a more meditative way. However you spend this time, the point is to disconnect, in order to reconnect.
I hope you find these suggestions for self-care helpful. Take that day and see how it makes you feel. I’d be very surprised if you didn’t start setting aside more time for yourself. Once you start, you’ll wonder why you waited so long!