Trust me, I know how hard it is to take care of yourself when there are so many things that need to get done. (And, I completely understand that if you don’t do them, they’re not going to get done. Or worse, if you don’t do these things they may get done wrong and you’ll have to fix them.) So if you’re like me and your “to-do” list is growing by the hour, do yourself a favor and take care: just 5-10 minutes for yourself each day to practice a little self-care.
Incorporating any one of these 5 simple strategies into your regimen takes under 5 minutes and will set you up for a better, more enjoyable holiday season and beyond. This is truly the very best gift you can give, to take care of yourself.
Here are 5 easy ways to practice good self-care:
- Aromatherapy. Aromotherapy has been used, in one form or another, for thousands of years. I like to incorporate it into my daily routine to lift my mood, calm me down, encourage sleep and more! Aromatherapy encourages breathing deeply and uses the properties of plants as essential oils to help calm your mind and reduce your stress. It can be as simple as picking an essential oil that makes you smile when you smell it. Some popular choices include: lavender, lemon, peppermint, wild orange, bergamot, or rose (all of which help combat stress). Put a drop or two in your palm and then deeply breathe in the aroma. That’s it. Repeat as often as necessary.
- Deep breathing. While we are on the topic, practicing deep breathing is key to relaxing the body and mind. Breathing deeply helps oxygenate our organs for increased energy and improved detoxification. The seemingly small act of deep breathing releases endorphins which enervate and lift our spirits. It also helps you sleep better. You can practice deep breathing anywhere (I do it in the car, in the shower and just before sleep.) There are numerous ways to practice breathing more deeply. Here is one that I use: Start by sitting comfortably in a chair or with your legs criss-crossed. Place your hands gently on your knees. Close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose, while silently counting to 4. Hold your breath in for 4 counts. Breathe out through your nose for 4 counts.) Repeat and if it feels comfortable, increase your inhale/hold/exhale counts by one count every 3-5 rounds of breathing (going no higher than a count of 8). If you can’t go higher than 4 just remain there and repeat as many times as possible in the 5 minute timeframe. If holding the breath in makes you feel agitated, constricted, or in any way uncomfortable, feel free to reduce the length of the held breath, or to eliminate that piece altogether. If you get distracted come back to counting your breath.
- Say no. Or, as I like to refer to it, practice living the philosophy “Less is More.” Seriously! Just give yourself permission to say, “No.” Right here, right now, say it with me. “No.” It doesn’t have to be “No!” and it definitely should not be “No?”. Just a plain and simple “No” will do. This is ridiculously easy, hardly takes any time and yet I find this is one of the hardest things for many people. However, when you say no and clear some room on your proverbial plate, you’ll find that you’re able to accomplish what you set out to do (with confidence and competence – no more running around like a chicken with its head cut off.) Saying no to one more commitment says yes to you. Your body and mind will thank you for it. So, say no, take care, and then take a deep breath and see how it feels to get back to your priorities and respect your limits.
- Prioritize sleep. Get 8 hours. Every single night. Eight hours is the amount of sleep your body needs for maximum wellness. With enough sleep you are in a better mood, more energetic, more focused, and supporting your immune system. So while the temptation during busy times is to skimp on sleep it’s actually what you need most. With the right amount, you’ll actually be more productive, not to mention happier.
- Move your body. I’m not going to harp on the need for a serious exercise regimen right now. What I’m advocating for is a commitment to movement. Even just for 5 minutes a day. That’s right, no excuses. If you can do more, by all means, do more. Moving helps get the blood flowing and reprogram the physiology of your body. Sitting for too long is simply not good for you or your muscles. Exercising produces endorphins which make us feel better so use your five minutes and walk quickly up and down the stairs at work, in your house or apartment building. I’m a huge fan of this sort of “burst training” which helps your body learn to adapt and deal with stress, boosts your metabolism, burns fat, and bolsters your immune system.
Make the commitment to take care of yourself this holiday season. It’s seriously the best gift you can give yourself.
And tell me in the comment section below how you plan to practice self care this season and all year long.
Photo credit: Quinn Dombrowski