Self-care seems to have become a hot-button topic of late. I am one of those people that generally will shy away from whatever is the newest fad or hot new thing, not gravitate toward it. I have to make an exception in this case based upon logic and results.
Fun and Leisure
There is a myriad of lists available for ideas and types of self-care. Most of them break their lists or ideas into categories, so I will do the same here, adding in my two cents as I go. The fun and leisure category is basically how it sounds. Do something you find fun! Play video games, watch a television show or a movie, do anything artistic or creative, go to a park or a zoo, or even do something as simple just listen to some of your favorite music. It doesn’t have to be complicated; it only has to be something you enjoy doing!
Now I completely understand that this category is not what everyone would consider self-care. Some consider it torture! Remember, this is supposed to be an activity to relieve your anxiety, so don’t set yourself up for failure by deciding to take on something that you really don’t want to do!
Exercise comes in many forms. Aside from swimming, running, hiking, or yoga, create your own form. Combine a couple of ideas and play your favorite music but make up some energetic dancing to go with it! Do some gardening, that always seems to wear me out. Go for a walk… just do something to move around and use some muscles and get some blood pumping!
Inner Peace and Spirituality
This topic can cover such a wide range, I will only be able to touch on a few. We all have our own ideas of what spirituality means to us and we need to cultivate that idea to help bring us some peace and comfort.
You could attend church or a religious service, or a spiritual retreat. Pray if you so choose. Practice yoga or meditate to find some peace. Listen to inspirational or empowering music, which again, can vary from one person to another, so you get to decide what suits you best! Isn’t that degree of control itself empowering? Try some new and different music or this guided meditation and hypnosis audio.
One of my favorite suggestions falling under this category is to write in your journal. It won’t always bring immediate peace or calm, there may be a delay. I have found that putting my thoughts to paper – yes, I sometimes still will write with pen and paper- can be liberating. It’s almost a purge from my soul, getting those thoughts out some days!
Okay, I am not going to try to fib my way through this… I am not always very good at managing my health and taking good care of myself. That doesn’t mean I can’t relay to other people what they SHOULD do to keep themselves healthier!
Anyone want to take a guess at number one on the list? Eat healthy! If vegetables tasted like ice cream, we would all be the pictures of health, but reality is bitter sometimes. The items here are pretty basic and common, honestly, Drink plenty of water, get fresh air, spend time in the sun, but possibly one we don’t think about often is to avoid triggers. Anxiety can be a fickle monster, and his triggers are not always the same, but the longer we suffer with the monster, the better we get at recognizing what makes him come out of the shadows.
So many things to put into this section! And such a wide range of ideas…
If you want to start on the really big end of the scale, take a class. I like to start small. I try to keep things simple for myself, especially for the extremely difficult days when my anxiety seems to be winning the battle. Those are the days when I need to make a list. I make the list on actual paper so that I get the satisfaction of crossing items off said list as I do them. And, some of you may think it’s cheating, but I don’t, on the really hard days, the first item on my list is to make a list! There is a joyfulness that comes from crossing out list items that is akin to peeling a hard-boiled egg in no more than three pieces of shell!
Moving on to some other tasks in this category before I get too off-topic include watching a TedTalk on something that interests you, cleaning some part of your home, going to or scheduling a time to go to counseling, and another HUGE task on this list that is so important, and so very hard is learning to say no!
Rest and Relaxation
Now, don’t get so relaxed in this section that I lose you! And keep in mind that these are suggestions from websites and other sources, as well as my own experience. I can’t attest to how all of them may or may not work.
Some items here, I do every day, like get up early and wear something comfortable! I suppose “early” is a relative term, however. Other suggestions seem very logical, like unplug for an hour. How often does your phone make some sort of noise in an hour? Text, call, alert message of some sort… turn it all off for an hour and just decompress. Maybe in that hour, you can also take a nap, or a bath, get a massage, or just meditate. You can also try lighting a candle, there are so many fragrances designed for relaxation it is amazing! Another suggestion I found is to go cloud-watching. That could be fun, as long as it isn’t too windy! Try to imagine different animals in the cloud formations!
This is another category at which I am not adept. I am learning and adapting as I go, as I hope my readers will be!
“Do a little shopping therapy”. How many times have you heard that phrase? Well, it’s on two websites, so I guess it’s a real thing! I have never been much of a shopper, but I certainly know people who are. This would suit them quite well indeed. A more toned-down version might be to get yourself a manicure or pedicure. Before the men all run away screaming about how sexist this is, there are a LOT of men that get manicures!
Something I have done on occasion, and that I know helps me feel good, is to buy myself a bouquet of flowers when I am getting groceries. They are cheaper there, and I can just bring them home and put them in a vase. You could buy yourself your favorite fragrance -again, men included, or treat yourself to a meal at your favorite restaurant.
Self-care is something we often take for granted. Even more so when we think about it only as a treat or something extravagant.
The reality is that in this post-pandemic world, we all need self-care more than ever. It can be a difference-maker in our day and in our life when we take just a little time to practice a few things to keep us centered.