Practical Everyday Self Care

Self-care has become incredibly popular as of late. Recently though, it seems as though self-care has become more of a competition, an aesthetic goal to reach. If you watch videos of people’s self-care night routines, you might have noticed that while they are fun to watch, they seem difficult to execute in the real world. For myself, I find that many of the activities, tips, and tricks that people give for self-care, are not so relaxing or rejuvenating. I don’t particularly like taking baths or spending an hour on skincare when I’m dead tired. And I certainly don’t have the money to be spending on all the aesthetic self-care items that are out there. I found myself thinking, what are some practical habits we can incorporate into our day to have a little more self-care in our lives? These are things that don’t necessarily require money spent or a boatload of extra time in the day. Instead, these are practical little ways to be kinder to yourself on a daily basis.

Create a Daily Meditation Practice

So many people recommend a daily meditation habit, myself included. It’s not just because it’s trendy but because it has so many brain-boosting benefits.  Meditation is used in so many mental health settings because it can transform lives. It is essentially training your brain to become aware of the thoughts that go whizzing through your brain. Many times, in guided meditation you are told to clear your mind, but that’s not the purpose, to have an empty mind. Instead, it’s practicing the ability to recognize the thought and let it go. Instead of chasing every rabbit that runs in front of your mind’s eye, you simply acknowledge it and let it pass. You may get to a point where you can sit in the quietness of your mind.  Meditation takes practice, but once you start getting the hang of it, you will notice changes in your ability to handle your emotions and thoughts. Take five minutes to practice every day, and gradually increase if you have more time.

Journal Frequently

Journaling is a good way to get us thinking about our emotions and the state of our being. Journaling regularly can help you not only reduce stress but also help you work through any problems you might be experiencing. Throughout my life, while I have not always journaled frequently, I found it to be a very cathartic experience. To be able to write down all my thoughts and feels, was a way of helping me process through them and find solutions. Even if I did not find solutions to my problems or feelings, I was able to put them out there and recognize them in a similar way to meditation. I encourage you to do the same. Journaling through all your worry and anxiety can help you gain clarity on what may be causing it and how to deal with it. I also found it helpful to return to previous passages to gain further insight into a problem. Take a bit of time to journal a page or even just half a page. Think of something that has bothered you and put it down on paper. You might even find it a bit liberating to get it out of your mind and onto paper.

Set a Time to Stop Working

Many productivity gurus will recommend this as a way to stave off burnout. I think it’s a great way to be kind to yourself daily. Instead of pushing yourself for hours and hours, taking work home with you, set a time where you are done for the day. No more work, no more stress. Continuous work won’t produce better work. I understand if you have many things on your plate that you need to get done but please do be kind and give yourself a little freedom. Otherwise, burnout will appear on the horizon sooner than you’d like. It doesn’t have to be the same time every day either since many of us have many different obligations at different times. But when you do set a time, be firm with yourself, and stop when it’s time to stop. If you wait until you are burnt out to give yourself some breathing room, it’s too late. You will be taking time to deal with mental exhaustion and health as well as physical symptoms before you can relax. Try different times of the day. Even if it is only an hour before bed, take a bit of time to step away and take care of yourself.

Develop hobbies you thoroughly enjoy

Finding a hobby you truly enjoy is another fantastic way to care for your mind. I know for myself when I am working on a hobby project, it gives me something to look forward to at the end of the day. I love being creative and working with my hands so when I get the chance at the end of a long day, I find it to be incredibly relaxing and fulfilling. It can feel especially good when our hobby is something we are passionate about, but may not be able to pursue full time. So many are in stressful jobs that they do not want. Having something you can pursue on the side is worth exploring. Burning yourself out on a job you hate is an awful experience for anyone. Take some time and explore. Maybe when you stop working for the day at your set time, as suggested previously, you can take some time and learn to draw or knit or play guitar. Even the exploration of hobbies can be exciting and fulfilling.

Dedicate One Day a Week

I like to dedicate my Saturdays (or whichever day works best), to a day where I don’t have to do anything at all if I don’t want to. Generally, I do end up working on something, but there are some days where I just need the time to recharge. Now, it’s completely understandable if this is near impossible for you. Many of us have so much going on that we simply can’t sacrifice a whole day. I encourage you to try and pick a half-day if you can. Or if neither of those is possible, go back to my previous tip of setting aside time every night to be done. Maybe set aside a day once every two weeks. Many times, we feel lazy about those days we end up doing nothing, but they can be incredibly restorative. You can still work on things on these days, but make sure they are not work-related, or at least very lightly work-related. Do not trick yourself into thinking you want to get work done when in fact you merely feel obligated to get work done. Take this time to get some errands done or clean your house. Whatever you do, take this dedicated time to unplug your brain from work or other stresses.

Practice Being Easy On Yourself

Monitoring your self-talk is a simple, yet effective way to practice self-care all day long. The best way to start this is to start taking notes or journaling when you find yourself becoming stressed. If you set out to track this, it’ll become more cognizant for you and you’ll start noticing patterns in your thinking. Once you start noticing your thought patterns, you can start correcting them. Often, we don’t notice that we are having negative thoughts or destructive self-talk when something stressful is happening. If this is the case with you, as it was with me, take some time to think back on your day and evaluate either your overall thoughts for the day or a particularly stressful situation. Why was it stressful? Were you thinking anything in particular? Why were you thinking of those particular things? Simply taking time to reflect on your thoughts can be incredibly helpful for breaking down where your thoughts and feelings turn sour. You can incorporate charting your thoughts into your daily journaling habit as well.

Tough Love Self Care

We all put things off to some degree. Usually, because something about doing that one thing scares us. We don’t want to tackle the mounting dishes in the sink because it seems daunting. We don’t want to confront our bills because we don’t know if we have the money. While these tasks seem like insurmountable mountains, getting them done can be some of the most gratifying self-care out there in my opinion. I call it tough-love self-care because we often do not want to do these tasks and find them stressful. But in fact, it’s one of the kindest things we can do for ourselves, including our future selves. When we take care of those scary things, we are reducing the worry and stress that keeps mounting when we put them off. Instead of letting those things build bigger and bigger, tackle them head-on. This will take that stress off of you, making one aspect of your life that much easier. Think of your future self and what kind of things you can do for them. Prep all your meals for the week so that future you don’t have to stress about finding healthy lunches during the week. Organize your closet so future you does not have to stress about finding outfits for work.

I hope this list of practical self-care tips will inspire you to find simple and effective ways to be kinder to yourself. If you are experiencing burnout, anxiety, depression or anything else, please make sure to talk to a professional.

Let me know if you have any simple ways you take care of yourself and keep burnout at bay. I’d love to hear.

Five Meditative Hobbies To Improve Mental Health

As I’ve personally delved into building a daily meditation habit recently, I’ve been thinking of all the other ways I’ve tried or have found myself meditating. Or more like, in a meditative state. I’ve noticed that I’ve felt this feeling doing other things throughout my life and know people who have experienced that same feeling doing other activities. If you find yourself having a hard time meditation while sitting still and quieting your thoughts, you might find trying these activities will help activate that sensation for you. You don’t have to sit in silence in order to experience the beneficial effects of meditation. Here is a quick list of meditative activities and hobbies.

1.Playing or Listening to Music
I played various instruments growing up, piano, guitar, flute, xylophone. It wasn’t until I got older and tried meditating that I noticed the same feeling was happening while I was playing music. Now this feeling usually didn’t occur when I was actively learning or practicing a song, but once I had learned it, there was a sense of peace that would happen when playing a song. My brain would go silent and I would just hear the music in my head and feel my fingers moving effortlessly. I’ve found this feeling while listening to music, but often times than not, just listening to music and not participating in it, doesn’t always produce the same effect. Though for many people, this is a form of meditation for them and they don’t even know it. Try picking up an instrument, or relearning one that you used to know. Listen to some of your favorite music or loose yourself in something new. Not only is it a good outlet for a hobby but over time you’ll find it soothing and relaxing to sit and play.

2.Painting or Drawing
While I have never experienced this feeling while drawing, many people do. My significant other included. He’s mentioned that when he was sketching regularly, how it was a relaxing hobby, to sit outside and sketch a dirt road or an old farmhouse. For many people this is a hobby where they find their mind shuts off and they can just create. This is another great outlet for creativity by drawing, painting, sketching, doodling, or whatever it is might be. All you need is a writing utensil and some paper. If you’re like me and you get frustrated easily while drawing, take it as another meditative opportunity to process those feelings, recognize them and let them pass. Nothing has to be perfect, just relaxing and calming.

3.Knitting, Crocheting, Embroidery, Etc.
I personally love to knit and crochet, though I usually do it while watching TV or videos. It calms a part of my brain that would otherwise become distracted from what I was watching/listening to. For some, it can be very meditative to be able to sit and have the rhythmic movement of their hands take them to a meditative state. Same with embroidery. While I have never embroidered myself and am currently waiting on a beginner kit, I absolutely love watching embroidery videos. There is something mesmerizing and relaxing about it. Finding a simple project to start you off is a great place to begin. Don’t put pressure on yourself to do really well. Just put your creativity forth and create as you see fit.

4.Baking and Cooking
I see with individuals like my significant other and my grandmother, who both enjoy cooking and baking, that it is almost meditative Especially when it’s a recipe they’ve done a hundred times. I’ve experienced a meditative state while cooking as well, where I forget that I’m cooking and find that I am fully engulfed in what I’m doing. With cooking, you’ll become focused on watching the food you’re cooking for changes, or how the bread feels under your hands, that you may enter this calm state. Many people love to cook and bake, and it’s no wonder if this is part of the activity. It can be incorporated with mindfulness meditation, where you feel the texture of the food, take time to smell the spices as they cook, and create a dish that is beautiful to look at. Leave the pressure of creating something masterful and create something you will truly enjoy.

When I thought of this one, I thought of yoga and kundalini yoga. When I was in high school, I got my hands on some kundalini yoga DVDs. They soon became my favorite thing with the upbeat music, bright colors and rhythmic breathing exercises. But really, this movement can be anything, running, dancing, gardening, walking. There are so many activities that you can use to help you reach a meditative state. I believe this is why so many people love yoga, because it not only feels great physically but mentally as well. Kundalini yoga involves repetitive movement, focused breathing and chanting that induce a meditative state while building stamina and endurance. Try them all out if you can, find one that works best for you. You’ll not only work your cardiovascular system but also your mind, both in positive ways.

I hope this list sparked a bit of creativity for you. What sort of meditative activities do you like to do? Maybe you hadn’t thought of meditation in that way before. Sometimes meditation either doesn’t suit us or won’t suit us until we can experience the same state through other activities. I hope you enjoyed this list and go forth and try out some of these hobbies and activities.