‘Self-Care’ is a term we’re all hearing these days, and for good reason: life is busier and more stressful than ever. I often wonder why that’s the case for me, given that my kids are in their teens and need less physical attention…but it is what it is. I thought life might get a bit easier, but it’s a different type of worry that creeps in as your kids grow up. That’s why self-care is something I’m focusing on more and more.
What is self-care? It can be whatever you want it to be, as long as you’re doing things that make you feel better mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. It’s also important to be cognizant of the need for self-care, because if you don’t manage your stress and energy, nobody else will do it for you.
And, what works for others might not work for you, so taking the time to figure out your best self-care techniques is important. Only you know what works best for you.
July 24th is National Self-Care Day, so I thought I would share my self-care techniques in the hopes of inspiring you to engage in the self-care that you need.
Here are the 12 things I do in terms of self-care that make a huge difference in my day and, consequently, in our family atmosphere:
Number 1: Start the day by doing stretches, mainly for my back. I take a few minutes to lie down on the ground and let my back relax. I look out the window and see sky and trees. Looking at nature and concentrating on being quiet calms me right down.
Number 2: Exercise! I am on my treadmill 5 days a week, watching reality TV and catching up on news. This is my time and I can’t do without it. Sometimes I talk to family and friends on the phone while I’m walking, and other times, I just kind of zone out. I’ve added weights to my routine and I like how that’s making me feel, too.
Number 3: Read at lunchtime, and anytime I can. This might sound very anti-social, but lunchtime is my time, unless I’m out with friends or family. I think I associate reading at lunch with the days when my kids would nap and that was my only free time. Reading is so important to me that anytime I feel stressed, it’s the number one thing I want to do!
Number 4: Bake or cook, especially in the mornings. Getting any kind of chores done in the morning is one of the best ways to feel ahead of your to-do list. Get the stuff you don’t really want to do out of the way first. I love baking and cooking, creating content, and trying out new dishes. I also like making foods that I know my family appreciates. But sometimes, being in the kitchen feels like a chore, which is why it’s important for me to do these things early in the day.
Number 5: Go to an early mass. During the school year, there is a short 25 minute mass at 8:30am. I go after I drop off my kids. It’s easy, fast, quiet, and it makes me feel calm while I’m there. On nice weather Sundays, I like walking to a closer church and attending an 8 am mass.
Number 6: Connect with friends. This can be by phone, text, or in person. Because much of my family lives overseas, I use WhatsApp as the primary means to stay in touch. I also use social media like Instagram to feel connected with my friends and family by seeing what they are up to on a regular basis. The old-fashioned landline is another way to catch up. Research shows that staying socially connected impacts longevity, and I totally agree. Happier, active, social people live longer.
Number 7: Go for a walk. Living in a big city like Toronto means that I usually get around by car, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. Some days I like to pick up something I need for dinner or for the house from a nearby store. It’s less than a mile to the nearest retail area and I love walking through the neighborhood to get to the stores.
Number 8: Clean up around the house. Yes, there’s always something to do at home, and getting things done like de-cluttering or cleaning out bathroom drawers and kitchen cabinets makes me feel good about my home and environment.
Number 9: Wear my nice clothes and use the nice dishes as often as possible. This might sound strange and vain, but as a stay-at-home, work-at-home mom, I usually don’t make it into anything other than jeans and workout clothes, the latter of which are not fit for leaving the house! When I wear clothes that make me feel put together, it makes a big difference in how I feel. The same goes for using the good or new dishes. There’s no need to save them. Our lives are a bit less formal these days, so, as Oprah says, just use the dishes.
Number 10: Work on a puzzle. I think there is nothing more calming for me than solving puzzles, whether they are jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku, or playing Set online. The physical puzzles are my favorite because my mind can wander and think more clearly about what I have to do. In fact, when I have to travel, which causes me great anxiety, working on a puzzle is the perfect activity.
Number 11: Listen to music or radio shows. I am always surprised that I don’t turn to this option more often because it makes me feel calm to listen to music. Spotify at home and French radio in the car are my top options.
Number 12: Go to bed early. There’s a reason I put this one last. It’s been the hardest thing for me to do after I had my second daughter. But, on the nights when I get more than 7 hours of sleep, I feel the best.
What about you? What are some of the ways you self care? I’d love to hear what works for you!