A few years ago, my health took a nosedive. It was scary and I felt a little hopeless. I had a terrible cough that wouldn’t go away, my nose was perpetually blocked, I got sick at the drop of a hat (flus would absolutely sideline me) and all of the lymph nodes on the right side of my neck swelled up – a sure sign that my body was fighting something hard.
Despite constant trips to the doctor, nothing was helping and my medical tests came back inconclusive. To say I was worried and exhausted is an understatement. After months of this, it was finally determined that I was quite allergic to my beloved cat, Jones and I had to give him up to our close family friend. My symptoms finally cleared up and normal life resumed (despite me missing my cat buddy terribly).
As I look back at that time, I realized a lot of troubling things about myself. I never took the time to really take care of “me” or listen properly to my body. All of the red flags were there (cuddling the cat constantly didn’t help – AT ALL): terrible exhaustion and refusing to sleep more, not being able to handle alcohol well but still drinking like a fish, select foods triggering reactions but still scarfing them down, feeling constantly pressed for time but still accepting invitations for everything…sigh. Why did I do that to myself?
After my health improved, I spoke to my sister Erika about my experience. As she listened wide-eyed with shock, her stunned expression soon turned to a look of openness and nurturing – very characteristic of my eternally optimistic sister.
“Dude – you need to practice a little self-care…and not the type you always default too, retail therapy. While great every now and then, it is not the answer here.”
Erika suggested that I really look hard at myself and implement a plan to take care of my body, mind and soul. A lot of women feel guilty about self-care and enjoying the little things that life has to offer whether it’s enjoying that chocolate bar (who cares – just eat it) or taking a little trip by yourself to reconnect with your own mind. I began to schedule time for myself – time to exercise, time alone to do my fave things like walking solo along the canal, going to the art gallery and a bit of retail therapy at Nordstrom (hey – it totally helped).
I thought I would put together a list of self-care methods that really worked for me to share with you all, because I know there is a ton of you out there who could use it. Remember – the best way to practice self-care is to implement great habits daily – to remember to love yourself every day.
If you want a donut, eat it. Not ten, just one
There is nothing like life’s simple, little pleasures. Eat the damn donut! Block out the annoying voice whispering “A minute on the lips, a life time on the hips!” and savour that awesome taste. The few minutes it takes to enjoy that donut resets your brain and clears the way for a more joy. Stop feeling guilty and start feeling great.
Write down those compliments
Did you get a nice compliment today? Right it down! Make a little list of compliments paid to you and review them every now and then. Look at them too when you are feeling low.
Clouds are your friend
Sounds hokey, but go outside, lie on your back and look at the sky. That stress will melt away at the sight of big, white fluffy clouds. Then close your eyes and meditate for a few minutes.
Take a different route to work
After leaving a crummy job, I couldn’t bear to take the same drive to my fun, new job. I started driving a new route to work and instead of driving on auto-pilot, I started really paying attention to landmarks, like the awesome new coffee shop I discovered that apparently has been there for 10 years.
Fix that thing that has been broken forever
I bought a new light fixture that is gorgeous to replace a broken one. The problem is, that gorgeous light fixture has been sitting in its box for months because I’m apparently too lazy to install it. Guess what’s getting installed TODAY? It’ll look great and make me happy each time I look at it.
Do one thing today just for little ol’ you. Buy that pair of shoes. Don’t work through your lunch and go for a glorious walk. Get your makeup professionally applied. Whatever you do, make sure it’s enjoyable.
Stretch it out
Hit up a yoga class or do a few simple stretches on your own.
Literally “feel good”
Put on that silk shirt that feels amazing next to your skin. Bury your face into a soft cashmere sweater, or find a cute pup and pet her adorably curly fur. I’m looking you, Toby (the standard poodle up the street).
Get to spritzin’
Spritz on some of your favourite perfume and inhale deeply. Do what I do and visit Saje Natural Wellness and sniff all of the gorgeous essential oils.
So simple! My sister is in town and we watched about 10 episodes of Golden Girls last night. We laughed so hard, my stomach hurts today, and it was the best self-care ever.
Acknowledge your strengths
What are you good at? Cooking? Running? Painting? Finding an opportunity to exercise that strength today.
Spa Day at home
I have some Jo Malone bubble bath and lotion that I haven’t used because it’s “too pretty”. Guess what is getting busted out tonight? I’ve been working out hard all week at The Dailey Method (stay tuned for my post) and my sore muscles can use a Blackberry & Bay-scented soak.
Take yourself on a date to the museum or to a café to enjoy a nice lunch on your own. It does wonders for the soul.
Ok – after you eat that “happiness donut”, make one small healthy change to your overall diet. Incorporate more fruits and vegetables, drink more water, drink one less unit of alcohol, etc.
Feel like you are really struggling? Reach out to a trusted friend or professional and talk it out.
How do you practice self-care? Let me know in the comments!
*Header photography courtesy of www.ambphoto.com