After getting sick and losing all my hair three-quarters of the way through 2016, 2017 was really just focused on surviving — not literally, but figuratively. By the time 2018 rolled around, I had almost a full head of hair again, mind you, very short and still about five or six bald spots. Still, I was fully accustomed to my new gluten and dairy free lifestyle, had gained a ton of confidence in the kitchen, and I was feeling good and stable enough to really start taking care of myself beyond diet and supplements.
I’m not even sure if I’d heard the term self-care before I consciously started doing it but I will say its been life changing. Its improved my wellbeing on so many levels, so I want to share some of the ways that I practice self-care, in hopes that it inspires you to try some of your own. I mean, we only have one go at this thing called life so why not make the best of it and treat yo’self like a queen (or king) whenever you can? That's really the goal of self-care: to set aside regular time to care for yourself. And it doesn't need to be a trip to a fancy spa, though that sure as hell is lovely if you can swing it once in a while. It's more about the little things, free things, that you can do daily for yourself.
Outside of cooking and eating clean (since I do consider cooking your own good food a form of self-care), my self-care practice includes:
Some form of daily movement: I’ve never been a fan of hard-core workouts; I actually hate sweating (is that weird)?! But I recognize the importance of movement and I know my body appreciates it because it sure as hell lets me know when I skip a day! My daily movement always consists of at least one 30-min dog walk with my bulldog Mookie. On top of that I try to do a Yoga or Pilates (mostly free classes at home on my laptop). Right now I’ve got these two channels on solid rotation: Yoga with Adriene and Boho Beautiful. Cardio wise, I don't hate to run outside once in a while but I definitely don't love it either! Once in awhile I’ll get the urge to run and go for it, and for now that’s good enough for me. I actually ran two 5ks in 2018, a goal of mine for years since I quit smoking. (I know, gross!) It felt good to accomplish but I won’t be rushing to run a 10k anytime soon!
Meditation is truly the most incredible mindfulness practice. Its been shown to boost the immune system, promote anti-inflammatory genes while turning down pro-inflammatory ones and literally slows down the aging process on a cellular level. Woah, right?! In the beginning it was a challenge for me because I’m the type of person who literally can’t sit still. I'm constantly doing something even while trying to relax. But now that I’ve gotten into a regular practice I am a full believer in the benefits of it. I aim to practice 10 mins every morning to help ground myself and prepare for my day ahead. Sometimes I find it hard to get myself there, but once I do I feel instantly relaxed - like that feeling of coming home after a long trip. If you're new to meditation, I recommend using a meditation app. Personally, I enjoy Calm and Headspace, both of which have free sessions available. They are helpful for beginners because they have voice guidance to keep you focused. When you feel ready, you can move to a simple timed mediation and just focus inwards on your breath. I like to count up to 10 and then back down, timing each number with an inhale and exhale. It takes practice and Its not always perfect. Sometimes I'm in my head the whole time (we all have those days!) But when I do get a good session in, I leave feeling refreshed and energized and I highly encourage everyone to give it a try, especially if you're a go, go, go person like myself.
Journaling: I don’t think anyone who knows me would describe me as an overwhelmingly happy or positive person, which actually sounds kind of sad now that I write it. But if I’m being completely honest, I’ve always been a glass half empty kinda girl and I need to be OK with that. Positivity and grateful thoughts may not come super naturally to me, so it’s just something I need to continually work on. To help, I started a gratitude journal where I write 3 things I am grateful for at the end of each day. It does help but sometimes the next morning rolls around and it’s easy to forget what I was happy about the night before! I recently learned of a new type of gratitude journalling that I'm excited to try. Instead of writing 3 things at the end of each day, challenge yourself to write 1 thing that you've never been thankful for before. What I really love about this concept, is that it challenges you to be mindful and creative about the things you notice that bring you joy throughout your day.
These are just a few of the things I choose to make time for to honour my mind and body. It's a crazy world out there! If you're anything like me - constantly running around and always in your head - you'd likely benefit from introducing a little self-care into your routine. There are no rules, self-care is what you make it! Even it's just 10 minutes to sit, enjoy a coffee or tea and flip through a magazine. As long as you're making time for yourself to stop and be fully present for a few moments it 100% counts!