With summer coming to an end and the shift in seasons occurring, it's important to remember to care for ourselves in this transitional time. Self care may have different definitions for different people, but basically it can be defined as anything that makes you feel healthier-physically, emotionally, or spiritually. It's about defining your own values and what matters to you. Over indulging in food to "treat yourself" or blowing your next paycheck in the name of "retail therapy" may sound like they will satiate your temporary cravings and solve problems, and they might make you feel "happy", but these practices could cause long-term issues in the future. Instead, examine your true values. Swap these short term fixes for more intrinsically rewarding practices. For example: Rather than buying a bunch of ice cream or racking up a huge bar tab, cook yourself a healthy delicious meal and enjoy the culinary indulgence, health benefit and accomplishment!
When you learn to say "no" to things that stretch you too thin, you are able to slow down to re-evaluate the things that are really important to you. It doesn't mean you are isolating yourself, it means you are choosing the quality over the quantity of your time. Practicing self care can protect us from stress and anxiety or harsh thoughts that can be destructive to our self image, your needs are important too, and its ok to acknowledge and act upon them. When we love ourselves, we are able to love others more genuinely and deeply.
If you are wondering how to get started with a self care routine, I have a few easy suggestions you can apply to your everyday life. Eventually you will define exactly what you need and how often, but these can jump start the thought process of self care!
Introducing spirituality into your everyday life can reduce stress levels and encourage self discovery. Spirituality doesn't have to mean going to a traditional church or temple. When I say spirituality, I mean yoga, meditating, any kind of self reflection. Try yoga or meditation once a week (or more often if you like!) and just take some time to reset and breathe. Yoga classes can be great if you aren't sure where to start, but sometimes I feel better just practicing alone in a quiet space. You can go at your own pace, and move in whatever way feels comfortable to you. Youtube yoga can also be a great compromise if you want some direction but don't want to be downward-dogging in a huge hot room full of other people. Even taking a few minutes out of your day to do some stretches can make a huge difference (stretching before bed makes for a great nights sleep, which leads to refreshed skin and energy!)
Smells and essential oils are also a great place to start for self care. Our mind is closely tied to our sense of smell, especially our memories. Pleasant smells are great for making our space feel more comfortable but there is actual research that reveals the importance of certain smells to our mental state. Scientists found that after smelling bergamot and lavender the serotonin levels in rats spiked. Serotonin is the "happy chemical" that is passed between nerve cells in the brain when you are feeling good!
Making time for a nice cup of green tea in the morning can aid in fighting off cancer and inflammation because of the polyphenols green tea contains. If you want a self care double whammy, write in a journal while you enjoy your tea. Try making a list of the things you are thankful for if you get stuck on what to write about.
These are just the tip of the ice berg when it comes to self care, and as you continue your self care journey I am sure you will find even more practices that are unique to your routine and lifestyle. Observe these positive changes, and remember to listen to your body and spirit.
Posted by Liz Venuto