It’s a new year which means it’s time to refresh your goals and take on new adventures. What better journey to embark on than the rewarding path of embracing self-care? The new year is the perfect time for change and to switch up your daily habits so that you can better your overall well being. What exactly is self-care? It includes anything that nurtures your mind, body and soul. It can be simple things such as drinking a cup of calming chamomile tea while getting stuck into your favorite book, or it could be turning off your phone and going for a stroll in a forest.
Because self-care includes a very broad spectrum of practices, mindsets and activities, it can become confusing on where exactly to start. In this blogpost we’ll explore the basic fundamentals of self-care and the benefits it can have on your overall well being. From the simple act of mindful breathing to the larger concept of setting healthy boundaries, each element of self-care contributes to a more harmonious existence.
Practicing Daily Mindfulness Is Self-Care
Modern life can be extremely chaotic at times. Learning and practicing the art of mindfulness has become a must-have for people in the 21st century. Being mindful can help you see clearly through the storm. It can be broken down into 3 major principles; breath, presence and awareness.
The simple act of focusing on our breath can help calm us down in stressful situations. Diaphragmatic breathing activates our parasympathetic nervous systems which in turn promotes feelings of relaxation and calm. By breathing deeply we can increase the oxygen flow to our brains which improves mental clarity and strengthens our ability to concentrate. Next time things get hectic, try taking long, deep breaths and see the results for yourself!
At the core of practicing mindfulness is embracing the present moments you find yourself in. We are so focused on the destination that we forget to enjoy the journey. When you’re having conversations, be present and actively listen to what the other person is saying. When you’re sitting down and enjoying a meal, be present and focus on the food you’re eating. Being present for the small moments will help you appreciate your journey. It’s important to appreciate the now, otherwise life will fly by too quickly before your eyes.
You can’t live in the present moment without being aware. When it comes to self-care, this means being aware of your surroundings, relationships and your emotions. By being aware, you can better understand your triggers and stressors and cultivate your emotional intelligence. This all starts with understanding why you’re feeling certain emotions. Why are you stressed? Whether it’s because you have a big meeting tomorrow or your finances are tight, understanding the cause of our negative emotions can help us deal with them better. When we identify the cause of our triggers, we can recalibrate our reactions and make sure that we deal with conflicts better.
Crafting a Symphony of Work, Life, and Self
Now that you know how to practice mindfulness, it’s time to start achieving balance in your life! Life should be a beautiful melody of our careers, social life and hobbies, as well as making time for ourselves. Much like in an orchestra, too much of one instrument can throw the entire symphony out of balance and the exact same applies to our lives. Too much work is not good for your overall health, and socializing too much can drain you.
While the grind is often romanticized, an overemphasis on work can often tip the scales in the wrong direction. The pursuit of your professional life may overshadow the need for personal time and this causes immense burnout and stress. Your work life should be in harmony with your personal life. However, achieving this can be difficult with the hustle and bustle of our careers and social lives. That’s why it is important to master the art of saying no and allow ourselves to set healthy boundaries.
The stress/burnout factor doesn’t apply across the board. There are folks out there who are built for 80- and 90-hour work weeks, who care solely about their careers, who gladly make the sacrifices and take it in stride. The ones who are truly of that nature, however, are few and far between. While it is indeed important to be someone that can be counted on (in our careers and social lives), oftentimes people just need to learn how to say no.
Mastering the Art of Saying ‘No’
Many of us are people-pleasers, and I’m sure we’ve all been caught at least once in a situation where we’ve overcommitted in our work or social lives. Where we didn’t want to say no, because we felt bad and didn’t want to disappoint somebody. Setting healthy boundaries is the fortress of self respect, which is an important aspect of self-care. Your time and energy belongs to you. It should be up to you where and how you want to spend that time and energy.
By doing this you’ll be able to sculpt a life that aligns with your values and aspirations and improve your overall happiness and well being. Don’t feel guilty when you say no to things that aren’t going to benefit you, there’s nothing wrong with setting healthy boundaries and sticking to them. Sometimes in life we have to put our foot down and focus on our own needs. Now we’re not saying you should say no to every person or opportunity that comes your way, but rather know when it’s okay for you to say no.
Unplugging And Recharging
In today’s technological era, it can be so easy to fall into the trap of having our eyes glued to the screens around us. Being able to put down your phone, and look up at the world around you is becoming increasingly important and beneficial to our overall well being. I personally aim to take at least one hour out of my day to digitally detox. Some days I go walking in the park, or I go watch the sunset over the ocean. I always make sure I leave my phone at home or at the very least put it on “Do Not Disturb” mode.
The world of social media and the internet in general can be a draining experience. When we unplug, we are able to recharge our batteries. As human beings are flawed, it’s inherent in our nature that there’s a desire for consumption. When it comes to screen time, there’s always more to do and more to see. So naturally we can become unhealthily immersed in this world. That’s why it’s important to switch off, find ourselves in the present and embrace simpler things.
Being Kind To Yourself Is Self-Care
Many people struggle to love themselves and when they’re going through emotional issues they can be extremely self-critical. I can’t stress enough how being kind to yourself is an important aspect of self-care and should be practiced daily. Give yourself some grace next time you make a mistake; after all, we all make mistakes. The pursuit of perfection can leave us feeling like we are unworthy or that we need to achieve more to feel whole, but what we really need to do is to learn to love ourselves.
While you should have empathy for other people, it’s just as important to allow yourself that same empathy and kindness. This is especially true when you’re going through problems. At least from my experience, beating yourself up doesn’t change anything and being kind to yourself solves problems much faster. When life throws us curve balls, we may take them personally and instead of taking action, we tend to sit and mope. By understanding that most things are out of your control, you can learn to love yourself. Cut yourself some slack, we all know that nobody’s perfect.
Most people want a big house, a successful career and I’d be lying if I said I don’t want to drive along the coast of Spain in a Porsche 911. These aspirations are important to motivate ourselves. However, it’s vital that we take the time to appreciate all the things we do have and that we have achieved. There are probably people who wish they were in your shoes, and when we actually sit down to take stock of our lives, there are so many things we can find to put a smile on our faces.
Sitting down to appreciate a delicious meal, being thankful for your family and being grateful for the roof over your head are examples of things we should be grateful for. It’s the simple things in life that we really take for granted. However, it is human nature to always want more. There’s nothing wrong with pushing ourselves to achieve our dream lives – but I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, appreciate the journey. Sit down and count your blessings, you’ll find that they probably outweigh the bad things.
Embracing Me-Time Is Self-Care
Working too much, overcommitting to social events and not spending time with yourself can really throw the balance of your life out the window. So next time you’re on the verge of burning out, take some time for yourself and reset your mind. Giving yourself space to reflect through me-time can help you better understand your desires and personal growth goals. When the scales outweigh each other, choosing to pause and reassess is the key to restoring balance in your life.
Having time alone with your thoughts can also help you exercise self-compassion. Self-compassion boosts your self-esteem, which can lead to better actions and that is what gives you the confidence you need. Having little moments of introspection can become a canvas for self-discovery and victory. Switching off to the world around us can help us think clearly without the noise of daily life. It is within this space that moments of true clarity emerge and we can become the best versions of ourselves.
As you start your journey through self-care to achieve a more balanced and fulfilling life, take stock of the tips that we’ve shared with you. Self-care can be our compass, constantly guiding us through the rough waters of life. Always remember that self-care is a symphony of balanced moments that make up your unique melody. So cherish each note, appreciate the harmony and enjoy the beautiful music of life. You’ve only got one, so why not leave it well with self-care.