Self-Care Isn't Selfish: Simple, Daily Rituals to Be your Best Self
Guest Blog Post: Colleen Patterson
Hey there, friend! Let’s have a chat. I’m going to ask you a question, and all I ask is that you take some time to consider it and answer it honestly.
When was the last time you took some “me time?” Time that was just for you? Self-care? Time to be alone, doing something you love—or something that makes you feel great when you are finished?
If your answer was, “It’s been a while,” or “I don’t remember,” think about why this is. What are the excuses you tell yourself that prevents you from participating in said self-care? It’s OK, you don’t have to tell me—I already know the answer, because it’s been my answer more times than I can count too.
“I don’t have time.”
“I don’t have time because…
I’m too busy.
I need to make dinner.
The kids have soccer practice.
I am working late.
I need to feed the dog.
I don’t have the money for a massage, spa day, etc.…
I know for me, as the years go on, life only seems to get more “busy.” Between work and family commitments, it often feels as though, in the words of Jessie Spano, “there’s never any time!” Self-care typically falls to the bottom of the list, and before you know it, you’re feeling exhausted both mentally and physically.
I’ve found that the best way to prevent this kind of emotional and physical burnout is finding a little bit of time each day to do something for me. This kind of self-care might not be the luxurious spa day you imagined, but it is effective. These small actions build on themselves, keeping your cup filled and allowing you to stay present and engaged in your life—and perhaps even notice what you don’t need to have in your schedule to help create more space in your life.
So, what does daily self-care look like? Here are some of my favorites, broken down in to short, manageable time increments.
Self-Care in 30
For me, my yoga practice makes me a better person 100% of the time. I used to think that it only counted if I had an hour or more to dedicate to it. But it doesn’t. Even 5 minutes of sun salutations can shift my mindset and make me feel better. Practicing at home is simple and easy with subscription websites like Glo.com and Yogatoday.com. If you don’t have the funds for a subscription (a monthly subscription to Glo is about the same cost as a single class at a yoga studio), YouTube or Amazon Prime have many free options!
This one might not sound super exciting, but the delicious food options you will have at your fingertips will make it worth it! In 30 minutes, you can wash your produce and chop a whole bunch of fresh fruits and veggies to have on hand or chop the veggies you plan to use throughout the week to make dinner time super easy! A 30-minute time investment for a major return in easy snacks and easy dinners later.
You’re probably thinking, “A 30-minute nap? What’s that going to do?” Well, let me tell you, this can be extremely refreshing. BUT, you need to follow these steps in order to make it effective and prevent it from turning into a 2-hour snooze (though that does sound heavenly!). First, leave the blinds open. You want a quick rest, you don’t want to signal to your body that it’s bedtime. Second, if you are napping in your room, do NOT get under the covers. Instead, use a thin blanket. Getting super cozy under the covers will make it really difficult to get up later! The couch can be a better option if it’s not quite as comfortable as your bed. Finally, set your alarm. No internal clock is going to help you wake up in 30 minutes. Let technology do that for you.
Self-Care in 15
Go for a walk
Get outside for some fresh air! Walking is a fantastic way to get the body moving and the heart pumping. I recommend leaving your phone at home (or at least putting it on Do Not Disturb) and making it a mindful experience by paying attention to the sights, sounds, and smells around you. One of my favorite ways to clear my head. Bonus if you have access to a nature path or a nearby forest!
Meditation and mindfulness is a great way to clear your mind and bring some peace and relaxation into your world. It can be as simple as finding a comfortable place to sit (a chair with a back is totally fine, it doesn’t have to be on the floor cross-legged), closing your eyes, and focusing on your breath. If that’s not your thing, there are tons of great guided meditations out there.
Clean out a drawer
Nobody said that self-care had to be glamorous. In my book, if it makes you feel lighter when you are done, you’ve succeeded. Take 15 minutes and find one space in your home that is cluttered and clear it out. But the key here—you are only allowed 15 minutes. This prevents overwhelm from setting in, and you’ll realize how little time some of these tasks really take, so you’ll be ready to take on more in the coming weeks.
Self-Care in 5
Dry brushing is a fantastic way to remove dead, dry skin cells and stimulate the lymph system to remove toxins from the body. You simply use a natural-bristle brush, begin with your feet and work your way up your body, brushing the skin with quick strokes, about 5 per body part. Always brush toward the heart, and do not dry brush your face. It’s great to do right before the shower. Pro tip: Add a drop of essential oil (my favorites are Eucalyptus or DoTERRA’s AromaTouch blend) to your hand, swirl the brush bristles in your hand in a circular motion, and then begin your dry brushing for an even more invigorating experience!
If you don’t have time for anything else, stop wherever you are, close your eyes, and those 3 breaths before continuing on with your day. You can step it up a notch with your favorite essential oil (perhaps Lavender for calming, or Peppermint for an energy boost). In my experience, there is nothing that 3 slow, deep breaths can’t soften, allowing you the clarity to take on whatever comes your way.
Finally, a few tips to help you create your own daily ritual:
Find what you LOVE and do THAT. You may not find yoga enjoyable or relaxing in the least. I encourage you to get creative and only do things that you absolutely love—painting, dancing, journaling, walking in nature.
Plan ahead. Take a look at your calendar and find pockets of time that will allow you to take that time for yourself. That might mean setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier or cutting down on social media scrolling. Once you’ve found the time, put it on your calendar! You will be much more likely to follow through if it’s a planned part of your day.
Don’t be attached to perfection. Some days, my yoga practice happens in the middle of the living room surrounded by laundry baskets and toys strewn about, but 100% of the time that practice leaves me feeling better than no practice at all.
Finding things you love and making a little bit of time for them every day will have an incredible impact on your physical and mental well-being.
Colleen Patterson is the founder of Wise Star Wellness. She creates a warm, inviting space that children and parents enjoy coming to, and encourages them them to relax in a calming environment. Kids (and parents) are under so much stress and pressure these days to be everything to everyone, and we've forgotten how to just be for a little while. Yoga helps us to relearn this using physical poses to rid the body of tension and build strength, and breathing, oils, and mindfulness to help our body settle and be able to be still. Colleen offers a few group classes each week, including restorative classes for teens and some special events.
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