Imagine for a moment that you are having coffee with a friend and she shares with you how stressed she feels. How she never has time for herself and is experiencing insomnia. Now, most of us would offer sound advice such as, ‘you really need to try and reduce your stress. Can you book a massage to help relieve your tension?’
It’s funny how most of us are really good at being helpful friends and know what those around us need but fail to treat ourselves the same way. Sometimes the expectations and demands we place upon ourselves are much greater than we would ever place on others.
The pace of life is really busy for most of us. The evidence is the increase in prescriptions to treat depression, anxiety, insomnia and pain. However, by incorporating a little self-care into our day, we are helping to decrease the stress that produces symptoms over time.
So, are you ready to start heeding your own advice and treat yourself like your own best friend? Here are 5 simple activities you can start with to practice a little self-care. Make this month all about you and try each one of these over the next 30 days!
TAKE A BATH
Drawing a bath is the perfect opportunity to reconnect with yourself after a long day. And let’s not forget that any sort of ache seems to magically disappear! Did you know that the sense of smell is our most powerful sense and that the sense of smell is linked most heavily to our mood, memory and emotions? So, lighting a scented candle and choosing some essential oils adds another layer of self-nourishment to your bath experience. Inhaling these same combination of oils later in the day may trigger the sense of calm you experienced during your bath. Start by setting aside just one evening a week to take a bath. Increase this ritual to twice a week as you start to realize how important a bath is in nourishing your mind + body + spirit.
2. GO ON A DATE…WITH YOURSELF
The artist and author, Julia Cameron, refers to dates with yourself as ‘Artists Dates.’ This is a particular time you set aside for yourself each week. Say, a Thursday afternoon. You pick what day works for you. Like a real date, be sure to show up! When you call it a ‘date’ it’s easier to show up. This little rendezvous with yourself can last between 30-60 minutes. The point is to use this time to discover something new about yourself. Explore a new bookstore, coffee shop, boutique, or museum. Reconnecting with yourself in a new environment promotes creativity and forms new neural connections. Oftentimes you feel inspired in ways you never would have if you simply engaged in your normal weekly routine.
3. BOOK A MASSAGE or RELAXING FACIAL
When we pencil something in our calendars, we get to experience the positive emotions that precede the event. . This sense of anticipation often brings just as much joy as the actual event. We know we all deserve a massage or other relaxing spa service but often reserve self-care for special occasions, like a birthday. Book a massage or facial right now. Pencil it in midweek as something you deserve…and look forward to it. Set the event as recurring in your calendar and schedule another massage a month or two later. Getting a massage or spa facial on a regular basis provides you the space to step away from the daily grind. Try and view this me time as preventative medicine. We can certainly grab a pill to quell our anxieties. Or we can stay ahead of it and honor our mind and bodies with a little self-care.
Taking just 5-10 minutes each day to meditate has proven to dramatically reduce feeling of stress, anxiety and depression. Meditation has also demonstrated decreased activation of the amygdala (area of the brain associated with stress and anxiety). When you are focused on your breath, meditation has been found to increase the gray matter of the brain. This is the area of the brain responsible for mental flexibility, emotion and attention. One scientists explain this further by saying, ‘meditation is like a training program for the brain, strengthening and making new connections between neurons.’ The good news is that meditation can be done pretty much anywhere – at your desk, in your home, in a parking lot. Starting a meditation ritual where you assign a certain time each day to meditate truly is an act of self-care.
5. SURPRISE YOURSELF
Where is it written that you can’t send yourself a present? We all know how great surprise presents makes us feel. We experience our importance and feel cared for. Why not extend a little bit of this gratitude towards yourself? The best way to do this is to purchase something online you have been thinking about. The item doesn’t have to be a big and it certainly shouldn’t be a practical item like a can opener. Have fun browsing online for a small token that makes you feel special. Order the item and send it to yourself to arrive in 1-2 weeks. Delaying the arrival helps with the surprise factor as well as feeds into the pleasure that come from anticipation. A mid-week surprise is a sure way to treat yourself to some much-deserved self-care.
Healthy & Amazing Over 40,
Katie Zupan-Lehman, MSN Bio
Katie is a Mindfulness Practitioner. She also has her Masters in Nursing as a Family Nurse Practitioner and a B.S. in Psychology. As the creator of the website www.thymeandpresence, Katie recognizes the negative effects of a busy lifestyle and believes in the importance of taking time to step back to reconnect with your mind + body + spirit.