by Bulbul Beri
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
Self-care plans although different for each of us, involve taking care of ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
In this crazy time of lockdowns, limited face to face contact, uncertainty and frustration, it is essential that we focus on what we can control and take care of ourselves and therefore are better equipped to deal with our situation and help those that need us.
Each of us are different and we have good and bad days. Sometimes finding the motivation to engage in self-care activities can be very difficult. What may be easy for one person may be a huge chore for another. Below are some suggestions that may be helpful.
How can we take care of ourselves physically?
Ensure we are getting enough quality sleep. Ways to improve our sleep quality can include:
- reducing sugar, caffeine and alcohol in the hours before bedtime.
- exercising during the day
- reading, journaling and/or a brain dump before bed.
- a warm bath/shower before bed
- not sleeping on a full stomach
- a conducive sleep environment: comfortable mattress, cool temperature, calming music.
- regular, consistent bedtime and wake-up schedules
- consistent bedtime rituals
- stop using all electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bed and keep them away from your sleep area.
- dark curtains and/or eye mask, low lights or candlelight before bed
A well-balanced diet is essential to a healthy life. Our food affects our mood, our energy, our skin and physicality. Focusing on nutrients rather than calories will result in a more balanced weight, greater energy will increase, and overall higher feelings of wellbeing
Choosing more vegetables, berries, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds and consuming less carbonated, processed, fried and sugary foods is a good rule of thumb for optimising your nutrients.
Meal planning and allocating regular times for meal breaks can help.
Remember to Hydrate
Drink a glass of water when you remember. Or if you are like me, and are always forgetting, set an alarm, keep a chart in your diary or by the fridge or better still keep a water bottle at your desk or wherever you spend the most time.
Aim for around 8 glasses a day.
How you MOVE = How you FEEL
Exercise plays an important role in maintaining a healthy body. Morning exercise has been found to help increase your energy levels for the day. In fact, exercise is a stress reliever, as it also increases the happiness hormones (dopamine, endorphins, oxytocin and serotonin).
Find an activity you enjoy – whether it’s swimming in the ocean, walking in nature, practising yoga, dancing or playing tennis – the key is to make it part of your regular routine.
As they say, sitting is the new smoking! So, get up and move! ANY amount of exercise or physical activity is better than none.
How can we take care of ourselves Mentally?
When we feel settled in our minds, we feel empowered to tackle what comes our way. We become what we focus on. We can change our negative thoughts to positive ones by changing our focus. Ways we can do this include:
- Practising gratitude. If we are able to live our life from a place of grace, focusing on the good in our lives, we can live more happily and with less stress and anxiety. We all have the ability and opportunity to cultivate gratitude. Simply take a few moments to focus on all that you have – rather than on what you don’t. The best way to reap the benefits of gratitude is to notice new things you’re grateful for every day. Remember that Gratitude is a practice, and as with everything else, it will become easier and part of who we are with regular practice.
- Spend time learning a new skill or engaging in a hobby. Create something – food, art, music, poetry.
- Take out some time for mental downtime. Turn off your email and work phone outside of work.
- Write. Poetry. Free-flowing thoughts. Journal. Brain Dump
How can we take care of ourselves Emotionally?
Learning how to regulate our thoughts and emotions, identifying triggers and focusing on things that bring us joy can all help with our emotional wellbeing. Practising forgiveness and letting go can help us process emotions and move towards a healthier, happier, freer state of being.
Remembering to stop, pause and breathe. The way you breathe reflects your thoughts and emotions. Changing your breath can change your thoughts and emotions. The first step is to become aware of your breath, then you can regulate it.
Stretching. The Cat-Cow stretch is known to improve posture, balance and promote a healthy spine, and in combination with the breath, is a great mind-body-exercise.
Doing something that makes us happy, for example, watching a funny movie, going for a walk in nature, gardening, cooking something yummy, playing games, doing puzzles, singing, dancing,reading a good book, listening to music.
Connecting with friends, family and neighbours. Develop friendships that are supportive and create positive memories together. Join an interest group through Facebook or Meetup. Talk to a friend about how you are coping with work and life demands.
Engage a therapist or a coach to help you work towards greater emotional health.
How can we take care of ourselves Spiritually?
Self care includes nurturing our spirit. We can connect to our greater selves through:
- stillness: practising mindfulness, meditation and or mantras can help quiten the mind and connect to our true selves, open our spirit to new possibilities and ideas in our life.
- connecting to nature: sitting in the garden, walking in the bush, parks, along the beach, swimming in the ocean, watching the clouds, birds, sunrise and sunset. Wherever you look, Mother Nature has an awesome miracle to show you.
- giving: serving others, helping people out where you can even in the smallest of ways, showing kindness or even just your smile is not only good for their soul … but for yours too.