By Lynn Gamwell
During the safety drill on airplanes a flight attendant calmly recites the first rule of tending to your family in an emergency. She (or he) says“Put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others”. This is a perfect metaphor for what we all know instinctually but often forget to do when we are living our busy lives. After all, what good are we going to be to a child, a spouse, an elderly relative, our employer, our friends, or even to ourselves if we are stressed out, tired, and let’s face it; feeling a little grumpy and resentful?
Time for You
The secret to making time to take care of yourself is to realize how essential it is. Your physical and emotional health depends on prioritizing yourself. The fast paced culture we live in can make you feel anxious if you are not being productive at every available minute. But studies show that multi-tasking only makes you feel less productive. You actually loose productivity as your attention gets spread thin. So a valuable paradigm shift is to realize that you are more productive, more loving, more truly yourself when you take time to focus your attention on nourishing your psyche. Taking time to indulge in your favorite, most relaxing and restorative activities can bring you back to yourself, back to your hopes and dreams, back to the essential and precious nature of You!
10 Tools in Your Self Care Toolbox
The fundamental requirement of personal time is that it brings you pleasure. It should fulfill and relax you on a deep emotional level. As much as possible try to relieve yourself of any guilt or judgment about needing what you need. You are the one and only unique and beautiful you! And to be your best self you must dedicate time to practice pampering and positive self-care!
- Take a bath. Luxuriate in the sensuous experience of a hot bath and allow your cares to wash away. Perhaps you could light a candle and play some soothing music. Try adding essential oils such as lavender for an intoxicating, relaxing aroma. Add therapeutic Ancient Minerals Magnesium Bath Flakes to soothe your aching muscles or Bentonite Clay Powder to detoxify you naturally as you soak.
- Let nature nourish you. Go outside and tune into the natural world. Getting in touch with the weather, the season, and the rhythms of nature can calm and center you. You might choose to take a walk, go to a park, or do something more adventurous. As long as you allow your senses to expand into awareness of your surroundings, your mood will be enhanced and your stress levels will drop.
- Read a good book. Reading for fun and enjoyment is completely different than reading for work or necessity. It’s a chance for your brain to disengage from your day and be stimulated or entertained by a genre you enjoy. You might consider joining a book group for the added reinforcement of reading to discuss topics of mutual interest. Or read before bed to relax your mind and give yourself the gift of sweet slumber.
- Treat yourself to a massage, pedicure, or the pampering spa treatment of your choice. While most of our toolbox suggestions are free and easily accessed, there is something to be said for making an appointment. It is a commitment you make to yourself (as well as to the practitioner) to set aside time to unwind. Feeling gorgeous and special afterwards never hurt either!
- Socialize (or not!) Most people enjoy spending time with friends. It can rejuvenate your sense of connection and of being appreciated by people who know you best. Some people are extroverts and some are introverts, however. So this is where it gets tricky. If you generally get energy by being around others you are probably more extroverted. If you loose energy socializing then you will need to carefully gauge exactly how much energy you can afford to loose through human contact. You may find that your best bet for rejuvenation is time alone. Either way works if it is suited to your personality type. Honor yourself without judgment for your natural type and find your happy balance!
- Meditate or just breathe consciously. Sometimes people get hung up on a perceived idea of what mediation is and whether they are doing it “right”. But there really is no right or wrong. It is the becoming aware of your wandering mind and bringing it back to stillness through the breath that is the essence of most meditations. So don’t worry or judge yourself. Just sit and follow your breath for whatever time feels good to you. Close your eyes if you feel comfortable and lovingly remind your brain to “let it go”. It will always struggle to be heard, and that’s OK. Even small moments of quiet will bring peace and calming to your day.
- Surround yourself with beauty. Whether your idea of beauty is art in the local museum, a theatrical or musical production, or the nature in your backyard, make a point to engage with it. The more you consciously choose to experience beauty in your world the more it will reflect back in your positive mind-set. Even decorating your living or workspace so that it pleases your senses will support your sunny outlook.
- Move your body with appreciation and acceptance. Your body is the vessel that carries you through life. Many people will tell you that exercise is good for mood and is essential for taking care of your body. But it’s not good if you push yourself beyond your ability or become self-critical. The best intentions can backfire unless you are kind to your body and appreciate all it is doing for you regardless of its short falls. Consider doing some form of restorative yoga or even yoga nidra facilitated by a live or taped person. This deeply restful and calming practice can rival sleep for its tension relieving support.
- Laugh like you mean it. Humor has long been acknowledged as the outlet for all emotions; capable of diffusing tension and pain through it’s cathartic release. It has even been studied for it’s healing qualities to the body and the mind. So tickle your funny bone with a delightful comedic movie or book. And make a point to look for the funny side of life. Your inner comedian will be delighted!
- Never underestimate the power of chocolate! We’re not talking about your run of the mill candy bar here. That would be hard to justify as a legitimate way to take care of yourself. But dark chocolate with as high a cacao percentage as you can find is another food group altogether! In fact, dark chocolate is rich in anti-oxidants and nutrients. It contains flavanols that can reduce blood pressure. It may also reduce insulin resistance and protect against heart disease. (1) Or do yourself a double favor by adding protein to your chocolate with great tasting Tony’s Double Dutch Chocolate Whey Protein. Chocolate just makes the world seem like a nicer place to be. So indulge your sweet tooth and consider allowing yourself a bit of healthy dark chocolate a day. What a sweet idea!
Find Your Bliss
It can be tough to resist negative self-talk and the push to always do more. But constantly deferring gratification is not necessarily noble in the long run. Knowing that you will reward yourself allows you to anticipate pleasure and enjoy your life. The more uplifting moments you can build into your day, the happier you will be. For a little extra help check out Peaceful Planet supplements for stress and mood such as Perfect Rhodiola Rosea. It can ease fatigue and alleviate your anxiety and depression. Supplements can go a long way toward improving your attitude. Add some pleasurable activities and it may be just what the doctor ordered!