Happy International Self-Care Day!
Yes, there is a focused day for that!
Since 2011, the International Self-Care Foundation has recognized July 24 as International Self-Care Day - a day focused on improving healthy lifestyles around the world.
Merriam Webster defines self-care as “to care for oneself”. Pretty clear, huh? Choosing to take time for our mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing can positively impact all aspects of our lives including how we interact with others and how we show up in the world.
Great, where do I start?
As we are multifaceted (busy) beings there are many (small) starting points to engage in self-care. Here are my top ten favorite self-care activities:
1. Affirmations: Internal dialogue or self-talk is often a constant state. We often believe these internal thoughts which ultimately impact our moods and decisions. Positive self-talk can energize and empower us, whereas negative self-talk can debilitate and hold us back from achieving our highest potential. Affirmations can be a powerful, quick, and simple tool to construct positive thinking. Here are a few of my favorites:
“I am enough.”
“I see beauty all around me.”
“Today, I am engaged, present and whole.”
“Each day I see progress towards my goals.”
“I choose love, joy and freedom.”
“I can do anything I set my mind to.”
2. Breathing: Stop! Take a slow deep breath in…..and out. Intentionally focusing on our breathing has the power to reduce stress, reduce blood pressure, increase energy, and foster self-connection. Try focusing on your breathing for 10-20 breaths. How do you feel compared to when you started? A little calmer, perhaps? If you are reading this...you are
breathing, great job!
3. Mindfulness: Focusing on being present in this moment can be hard to do when we have so much on our mind. Focusing on the senses is a great way to start practicing mindfulness. In this moment what do you see, hear, taste, smell, and feel? This can be accomplished with many tasks. Doing the dishes tonight? Practice mindfulness and hear the running water or clank of the dishes, smell the soap, and feel the temperature of the water and the sensation of the soap. Mindfulness increases memory and attention while reducing reactivity and stress. Mindfulness can be practiced when sitting, walking, or even eating.
4. Gratitude: Experiencing gratitude by saying a simple “thank-you”, acknowledging someone else’s efforts, or listing things for which we are grateful is a powerful practice. Gratitude has been shown to improve life satisfaction, improve self-esteem, and even help you sleep better.
5. Water: Feeling thirsty, tired, constipated, or dizzy? Do you have dry skin or a headache? These symptoms are related to dehydration. Although daily water consumption rates vary by many factors such as age and activity status, drinking water every day is good for health, is calorie free, and has many health benefits. Remember, the body composition is primarily made of water. A little too boring for you - try it with a slice of citrus or berry.
6. Under Planning: Taking on the world? Feeling like you are juggling too much? When is the last time you kindly declined an invitation and planned unstructured time for yourself? Planning free time allows creativity to flourish by allowing our brains to disengage and relax. Free time doesn’t have to be boring. Be creative and discover what you really want to focus your time on.
7. Creativity: We are each unique individuals who express ourselves in different ways. Creativity allows us to freely discover new ideas and expand our problem-solving abilities. It can be expressed in thoughts, writing, art, self-expression, music, etc… the possibilities are endless! Plus, creativity has a ton of health benefits such as stress reduction, improved self-acceptance, and the ability engage in a new experience.
8. Letting Go: Letting go of what no longer serves us is a very brave thing to accomplish. Is there an item, person, desire, thought, or activity that drains you and creates more stress than benefit? Letting go can be recharging, increase peace of mind, and decrease anxiety, stress and anger. When we let go we open the door for new opportunities and chances for what we truly want in life to manifest.
9. Sleep: Our bodies require sleep. Our risk for chronic health condition increases when our bodies are deprived of enough sleep. Sleep improves memory, reduces stress and depression, and promotes health. Getting enough sleep is something that benefits so many areas of our life. Although sleep rates vary by age, activity, and health conditions, ask yourself if you are getting enough sleep? If the answer is no, try unplugging from electronic devices earlier, develop a wind-down bedtime routine, and plan a larger sleep window each night.
10. Self-love: The hardest question many people face is “what do you love about yourself?” The hardest thing I’ve ever done is to tell myself “I love you” while looking at myself in a mirror. We live in a world that is filled with judgement and criticism. We deserve the same love, empathy, forgiveness, and affection we give to others. Changing our attitudes about ourselves and loving who we are leads to improved happiness, self-awareness, and outlook on the world.
What is one thing you are willing to do for yourself today? Take a second, minute, or hour for you today! If you need a little motivation, accountability or assistance creating a self-care plan I can assist. Plus, I would love to hear what self-care techniques you have already discovered.