How is everyone doing with the Daily Fitness Challenge? Summer is not over yet, and even when autumn does officially begin I still encourage you to find some way to get your heart pumping and body moving on a daily basis. Even if it’s just for a little while.
So as we continue caring for our minds and bodies with fitness, I thought it would be a good time to up the challenge a bit to include daily self care. It's important to take care of yourself not just on special occasions, but on a daily basis. This doesn't have to be anything extravagant (unless you want it to be ;). You can pamper yourself and restore balance to your life by making a few simple changes and adding certain "lifestyle upgrades" into your daily routine.
Self care is not selfish.
Many people, moms and people who care for others on a regular basis especially, often prioritize the needs of others above their own. I get it. I have kids, and I have clients, and I care deeply about my friends and family. Their level of happiness affects my own. It’s just the way I am.
It is important to remember though, that you cannot effectively take care of others if your own needs are not met. Even though I work in aesthetics and wellness, I still need to remind myself on a regular basis to make sure my own needs are taken care of. If I don’t I don’t work as effectively or efficiently, I know I get snappy with my husband and children, and I can feel other areas of my life going askew.
There’s that old saying that “when Mommy’s happy, everyone’s happy” and I believe that is true. It doesn’t apply only to moms or to women—everyone needs to learn to prioritize their own needs in order to maintain balance in other areas of life.
What is self care?
I believe that self care is an upgraded version of daily living. It is a way to add pleasure into an otherwise mundane day, and to make yourself feel good just because. I want to be clear that self care does not equate narcissism and does not give anyone permission to ignore responsibilities to others—there has to be a balance. But as days get busy and tasks, appointments, and other obligations begin to pile up we often sacrifice important things like sleep, good food, love, affection, hygiene, and relaxation in order to fit everything in. What this does is raise your stress hormone levels and force your body into survival mode. This leads to many chronic problems like digestive issues, skin issues, and inflammation.
Some ways to improve self care are very simple like taking a long, relaxing bath (using the Holistically Haute Salt Bath Ritual of course :) at the end of the day instead of a quick shower or improving your work environment by adding plants and upgrading your lighting. Other ways are more involved like better time management, getting your finances in order, and de-cluttering your work space.
Regardless, I encourage you to make a conscious decision everyday to take care of yourself in at least one way. To show you how simple this really is, here’s a little list of ways to upgrade your daily routine to improve your self care:
- Daily affirmations. When you wake up every morning, take a nice, long stretch and say to yourself “Today is a wonderful day”.
- Wear something that makes you feel attractive and confident every day, even if you are just running out for errands. This is not to please other people. This is so that when you catch a glimpse of yourself in windows or mirrors it makes YOU feel good.
- Breathe. Deep, deliberate breathing has been scientifically proven to reduce the effects of stress on the body. Try Dr. Andrew Weil’s simple breathing exercises as shown on the video in this post.
- Go to the spa. If you have stiff joints or sore muscles, book a massage. If you feel you are looking puffy or your skin is breaking out, get a facial. If money is tight you can still enjoy a spa experience with a relaxing and inexpensive manicure or pedicure.
- Drink tea. Drink high quality teas, like those from Teavana, with some local, raw honey. White and green teas are very low in caffeine (they contain a tiny fraction of the amount of caffeine in coffee) and are rich in antioxidants and help the body detoxify. Other varieties like rooibos and herbal teas contain no caffeine or other stimulants at all. They relax the mind and sooth the senses with their wonderful aromas. I prefer my tea warm—it is easier on the digestive system than iced.
- Cook a meal from scratch. Cooking healthy, good food does not have to be complicated or expensive. Choose simple, fresh ingredients and use seasonings that you like. A well-prepared, simple homecooked meal trumps a restaurant meal in nourishment any day.
- Leave early. Ever have one of those days where you are rushing around to get somewhere and it seems like you are hitting every single red light, getting stuck in more traffic, or getting stuck behind slow moving vehicles? I noticed that I never have those days when I am running early. When you send frantic messages out into the universe, the universe will respond in the same way…with chaos and frenzy. So don’t try to squeeze in that last phone call, email, or blog post (note to self)—it can wait until you return. You will feel much better if you have time to spare by being early rather than trying to simply be on time.
- Sleep! This is my biggest challenge, and it is my biggest priority for my own self care challenge. I tend to work late, and then I feel the need to read or watch TV or play on Facebook after that to unwind before bed which means that I rarely get to bed before midnight. This is bad! Especially since the back-to-school morning rush is about to start again. The body needs sleep to rest and regenerate. When you sleep is also the only time the body is not producing cortisol—the stress hormone. It is the only chance the body and mind have during a 24 hour day to NOT physically and emotionally experience stress. Sleep is not a luxury, it is a necessity. I realize this is a big challenge for most of us—especially those of us who work late or have babies who are not yet sleeping through the night. But we have to try, nonetheless.
I am going to begin going to bed one hour earlier starting tonight! Please hold me to that—you can feel free to check in on me on Facebook or Twitter to make sure I stick with it. That’s another tip—it’s good to have a partner or buddy to help keep you accountable.
So tell me, what’s one positive thing you can do for yourself today?