In a busy and competitive world, it is sometimes easy to place self-care on the back burner. We spend long hours at the office, drive our kids to soccer practice, care for our aging parents, and eat meals on-the-go. With “to-do” lists a mile long, we mistakenly believe there is not a free moment left in the day to focus on ourselves. Thankfully, there is good news. There are simple things you can begin doing today to create and implement a self-care routine that allows you to take a breath, focus on your own happiness, and ultimately find the good in every day.
Take a 20-minute walk outdoors. Being out in nature boosts your immune system while providing a gentle reminder that life, just like nature, changes often and, in the process, creates beauty. By turning your focus to the color of the trees, the warm sun, and the blue sky, you give your busy mind a much-needed rest and allow yourself to just be. Walks can be scheduled on your calendar, just like meetings. Appointments with yourself are just as important as appointments with clients, your boss, or a friend.
Find one thing to be grateful for every day. Whether it is clean water, a warm bed, or a car that starts on a cold winter morning, it is important to recognize the simple things in life we take for granted that so many others wish they could have. Every night before bed, make a mental note of what you are grateful for. This exercise takes only a few moments and will provide you with the kind of fresh perspective that leads to unlimited happiness.
Say no. You don’t have to be everything to everyone. Your colleagues will still like you if you occasionally turn down an invitation for after-work drinks. Your family will still love you if you say no to doing laundry on Sundays. Your friends will still want to be your friends even if you have to reschedule a lunch. It’s okay not to be so busy that you just run from one place to the next without focusing on the here and now.
Meditate. Meditating does not have to include sitting cross-legged on the floor, burning candles, or listening to New Age music. Meditating can occur while you’re on the treadmill, on your lunch hour, or while you’re lying in your bed at night. The process of meditating means that for a short period of time, you are allowing your mind to rest. Simply repeating peace-invoking words in your head like “love” or “joy” can provide serenity to even the most stressed of souls. Meditation lowers blood pressure, heart rates, and can even help promote creative thinking.
Practice empathy and forgiveness … for yourself. Implementing positive self-talk is a valuable component of a daily self-care routine. Learn to forgive yourself for your mistakes. We are here on earth for two reasons: to love and learn. Talk to yourself empathetically like a friend would. Tell yourself that it’s okay if you make mistakes, that you’re not perfect, and that life will go on, just as it always has. None of us are flawless. Don’t expect yourself to be either. Remember it is just as important to treat yourself as well as you treat others around you.
Implementing a self-care routine is an important part of achieving a happy and fulfilling life. You are worth it. Start today. I promise you won’t regret it.
Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Transitions Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.