I wasn’t born an expert on self-care; the truth is, I was that person you see running around taking care of everyone’s needs and letting her wellbeing take a back seat, like, way back. Career always came first and so did the needs of my friends and family. My idea of self-care was to get a complete physical every year or so, to slather on some sunscreen and moisturizer and get on with my day.
Now, I can barely remember that person, and all thanks to my best friend. She’s a yoga instructor and has been following and implementing the principles of mindful living and subsequently self-care for a very long time. After she asked me a simple ‘how are you doing’, to which I had no response, I knew it was time to change the way I treat my body and my personal life. When a question as simple as this leaves your stumped for an answer, you know it’s time.
So, as someone who is probably no different than most people, I’m here to give my fellow hectic life-livers some first-hand advice, and I truly hope it will help them transform the way they view themselves and how they nourish their body inside and out. If I could learn to take things slower, everyone can.
The night before the day
One of the first things my friend taught me is to avoid the rush whenever that’s possible. So I started small – I pre-planned my outfits for the following morning just before bedtime, so that would be one thing less that brought stress and hurry into my mornings. Try this – it seems so simple, but in time, you’ll see how much easier this practice makes it for the ‘morning you’. I extended this routine and even pre-planned my meals, as I used to have a tendency to skip meals and eat poorly during work. Making some serious adjustments in my diet has immensely helped me to feel not only physically but even emotionally better, especially since I turned to the healthiest foods of all – the superfoods.
Wake up, sleepyhead
The second piece of advice I got from this friend is to stop hitting the snooze button and start getting up one hour before I need to be somewhere. I asked why, and she explained that I need to use this time to do everything mindfully – meaning, I needed to soak up every moment and be present during my activities instead of just being a robot that goes about her morning completely detached.
When she suggested that I should lay in bed for 20 minutes every morning and just say nice things about myself and be grateful for everything, I laughed at her – who has time to give gratitude and self-praise for twenty minutes? Turns out we all do. Visualizing your day and saying positive thing out loud is one of the most liberating and self-pampering things you will ever do. As a former skeptic, I vouch for it. It may feel weird at first, but soon it will be as normal as that fresh pot of coffee. But what do you do with the extra time? The additional 20 minutes are reserved for meditation. If you are a neophyte like me, download an app – it helped me understand what meditation was all about. Everything they say about its ability to relieve you of stress, fatigue, anxiety – all true.
Every now and then
Even though self-care is far deeper than having an incredible skincare regimen or frequenting a spa for some extra pampering, with all the other steps, these two indulging ones fit right in. Now, not much is different when it comes to skincare, aside from the fact that you will pick the best products, preferably organic ones, and layer them on with a sense of purpose. It doesn’t take any longer than a regular skincare regimen, but stating the purpose, even if it’s in your head, will make it more meaningful. When it comes to spas, I make it my goal to visit my trusty spa in Eastern Suburbs. When I go there it’s like escaping into another world, a serene, scented paradise. I usually go for their signature de-stress therapy massage, and I can’t even depict with words how rejuvenated and brand new I feel after it. Yes, self-care is more than this sort of pampering, but mixed with other elements, it makes for a winning combo.
Then comes the real prep time
When you walk into the shower, just take a second and be aware of the activity you’re engaging in. This doesn’t have much to do with self-care in the typical sense – everyone showers. But if you’re focused on your current tasks, you’ll forget to obsess over all the things that are ahead of you, and one thing at a time, you will have accomplished all your daily goals. The key is to make a conscientious effort to think of the activity you’re doing while you’re doing it – be present. That is one of the pillars of mindful living, and when you learn to truly ‘be there’ for the good and the mundane, you will begin to cope with the bad and the stressful way easier.
Finally, this is perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned. Once I began to express kindness to myself, and stopped being so self-critical, I was able to exercise kindness to others with more ease than I’ve ever been able to before, and it feels good. You compliment someone’s work, someone’s look, help someone with a task they’re stuck with – it doesn’t take anything from you, but makes someone’s day, isn’t that just magnificent? We can all stand to be kinder, more aware of ourselves and of others. Start with the big things – yoga, meditation, the morning ritual and then work your way up. I promise, these steps will change your life and your perception of self.
About Isabel William
Isabel is Consultant by day and a Blogger by night. Mom to twins 24/7, and from recently editor on Health&Mental Health on Ripped.me[https:///ripped.