Have you ever been stranded on a road or a freeway when you ran out of fuel? Many, many years ago, on a cold winter Saturday, I was returning from the university after attending a full day grad class and was eager to get home. I overestimated the amount of fuel left and assumed that I had enough to reach home. Well, the result as you might imagine, my car came to a screeching halt on the freeway. Lucky for me, after about 10 minutes or so of waiting, a county patrol came to the rescue. While the fuel indicator gives you fair warnings when the vehicle is low on fuel, we tend to overestimate how far we can go with what we have. I find that it’s similar to how we handle self-care. Similar to the fuel indicator metaphor, we might know when we’re draining, yet we think that we can last a tad bit longer without caring for oneself..Worse yet, if you are not in tune with your fuel indicator or don’t pay attention to where you’re at with your energy levels, you might be caught off guard and confused with your own burn out.
So, what is Self-Care?
Self-care is about taking care of yourself in all aspects of life including physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being. It’s about being in tune with your needs and taking the time to nurture yourself first before pouring out to others. It takes deliberate practice and action to identify your needs and practice activities that bring you joy and happiness.
What isn’t Self-Care?
It’s not Selfish:
I know a lot of us feel guilty to take the time for ourselves to relax and refresh. There is this notion that somehow spending time on our own care is selfish and self-serving. We’ve heard it several times that you can't pour from an empty cup, right? So, the next time you feel guilty going to the gym while kids are at home, DON’T! Remind yourself that by investing in yourself, you are setting the example for your kids to prioritize self-care!
It’s not something you don’t enjoy:
Self-care also doesn’t mean that you do something that you don’t like or enjoy doing. Self-care might look and feel different for each of us. Check out the list of self-care activities below and pick a few that you might enjoy doing the most!
It’s not self-sabotaging:
While the activity you pick needs to be something you enjoy, make no mistake here- it should be something that nourishes you and contributes to your overall well-being. While binge-watching Netflix series might be OK to do once in a while, it’s not safe to consider that as self-care. Similarly, emotional eating might not be completely unavoidable, however, managing your stress and emotions through eating and not addressing the root cause of stress is not the best approach either.
It’s not an activity you practice rarely:
We often tend to overestimate the time we take for nourishing ourselves. If you go on a trip alone or with friends maybe once in the last few years, we call it self-care and move on. Well, self-care is not something that happens rarely or occasionally, it’s vital to make it a regular practice. To run our car, we need to invest in maintenance and fill up often and not rarely right? Humans are no different!
It’s not a one-size-fits all:
People are wired differently, there’s no doubt about that. What that means is self-care can look and feel different for each of us based on our likes and interests. Just because a specific practice might be soothing to someone doesn’t mean that it will work for you. It’s important to reflect and figure out your individual needs and chart out a plan for self-care.
So,how do you come up with a self-care plan that works for you? It’s simple, curate your list by reflecting on these questions.
What do you enjoy doing?
What activities make you a better person?
How can you incorporate into your daily routine or make it a regular practice?
Here’s a list of 50 simple and effective self-care ideas. Pick what you might enjoy and try it out.
Read a book.
Pick a different genre if you are an avid book reader.
Walk in the nature
Go for a gratitude walk
Talk to a friend or a family member
Try a new recipe
Listen to a podcast
Listen to a podcast you’ve never heard before
Dance to music
Listen to your favorite music
Listen to music in a different language
Try a new workout video
Learn something new online
Journal about your feelings
Make a vision board
Volunteer for a local non-profit
Spend time gardening
Meditate ( you can use Headspace app)
Go for a mindfulness walk
Play with kids
Go for a swim
Practice yoga (here’s one I like, it’s free)
Sign up for a free yoga challenge
Give up a food group that’s not serving you
Take a personal development course (some are free on Coursera)
Eat more fruits and vegetables. Check out my blog here on this topic
Take a 21 day plant based challenge
Organize your space
Take a nap
Take a long, leisurely bath
Go on a bike ride
Go for a run or a jog in the neighborhood
Try a stretching routine
Start a vegetable garden
Watch a TED Talk
Read a blog post or an article
Talk to a mentor
Read a motivational quote
Write down your list of dream vacations
Take time to self-reflect
Spend time connecting with your spiritual practice
Donate to a cause you care about
Indulge with a pedicure or manicure
Take a break from technology
Make yourself a cup of tea
Pamper yourself with a face mask
Invest in yourself and make your self-care a priority! What are some of your favorite self-care activities? Comment below, I would love to hear from you!