Self-care is a big topic often talked about in the coaching and entrepreneurial world. It is something that we’re often told we should do and be mindful of, but not many of us actually put this advice into practice. I guess, a lot of it is to do with time and not knowing if it’s really going to make a difference.
The thing is there are so many self-care rituals to choose from it can often just get equally overwhelming and so we continue along on our stressed out to burnt out journey.
I believe, that we are all different and so each respond to different rituals and techniques. So what works for me could not work for you.
However, there are a few things that we know to be true and work for almost everyone. I’ve compiled the top 5 below:
1. Taking yourself for a walk.
We know that exercise is good for us – it releases serotonin and it helps us keep fit and stay in good shape overall. But walking on a treadmill and walking outside in nature are two very different things. When we take the time to walk out in the fresh air, it’s important to take notice, to reflect and to breath in all of the goodness that’s around you. Not only this, but taking the time to appreciate the nature around you can give you perspective and help you live in the present moment. I am often found talking to the daisies or smelling the pine leaves on my evening walks (Yes sometimes I get funny looks!). Aside from making us appreciate the simpler things in life, consciously using our senses can actually help maintain a healthy nervous system! Something that in this day and age of stressed out, anxious tech obsessed people we should be promoting more of! Those hippy tree huggers were clearly onto something here!
2. Listening to your inner self.
We hear how meditation and yoga has helped countless people re-discover themselves, so why don’t we take spirituality seriously when it comes to nurturing our inner self? Incorporating spirituality into your daily practice allows you to pause and decreases your stress levels. This can be a mixture of meditation, yoga, mindful breathing exercises, or guided visualisation.
As a Greek I feel it’s my duty to mention how the Greeks coined the phrase, ‘know thyself’ – they were obviously onto something here! Self discovery and taking time to assess your life from a more spiritual perspective can not only offer wider health benefits, but also allows you to see things with a fresh pair of eyes.
3. Lavender & Essential Oils
Now, I’m a huge fan of lavender. I would have it in and on everything if I could. I find it’s the most relaxing smells for me, especially when I’m having particularly anxiety filled days. But it’s not just me. A recent study in the International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice concluded that lavender essential oil was effective in treating depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Which suggests why so many natural products that aid sleeping always have lavender in them. I place real lavender in a pot next to my bed because I find the smell helps relax me before sleep and I also burn lavender oil in my room and around the house often.
There are lots of different essential oils however and for different uses. My other two favourites are eucalyptus and bergamot.
Bonus points: Lavender oil has been proven to deter moths, mosquitoes, and other pests. A great natural bug/mosquito repellent! Plus you get to smell nice
4. Water & Tea
OK, let’s be honest, how many of us don’t drink the recommended 6-8 glasses of water per day? We’ve been told time and time again that water is good for us. We should drink more of it. Yet so many of us don’t do this very simple thing. One plus factor for me is that I love herbal tea and I drink lots of it.
Some time ago I realised I wasn’t drinking enough water and became aware of how thirsty I was getting in the mornings when I woke up. So I decided to bring in lemon water into my morning routine. I can’t tell you the difference this has made. It’s super refreshing and makes me feel healthier straight away! I now also put a slice of ginger with it too when I have some – for that extra yumminess!
Though I love herbal tea and hopefully this substitutes for my lack of 8 glasses of plain water, I’ve never been a fan of green tea. However it has been proven that a class of chemical compound found in green tea, polyphenols, are factors that could play a role in the way cells fight against cancer and inflammation. Green tea can also be great for those looking for a mid-afternoon or morning pick me up drink as it also has energy-boosting qualities.
5. Exploring Creativity
So obviously I couldn’t leave out creativity. This doesn’t necessarily work for everyone, but given a chance I honestly think creativity is one of the best tools we can use to support our self-care. No matter what your ability, creativity and art has been proven to reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) levels. The thing is, art allows us to play and to be inventive. I often draw simple doodles, with no intention of making something in particular, just so that I can let go of my thoughts and put it all into creating something new. Most of the time it’s not about the result but the process. You see creativity and art can offer us a sense of freedom, and who doesn’t crave freedom in some way or other?
I don’t define creativity narrowly. Creativity can come in all sorts of different forms, from cooking and gardening to writing or painting. Sometimes it might even be repainting your walls! Exploring your creativity can allow you to slow down and enjoy the moment and the process. And when you have something to show for it at the end – no matter what it looks like – well that’s just an added bonus!