“Self care is an act of service for our clients.”
This statement was made during my wellness coaching lesson a few weeks ago and I caught myself doing the “raise the roof” in agreement. Don’t worry, it’s a virtual coaching course, so no one (besides Rocky) saw me do it! Taking care of ourselves is one of those things that we know is important, but many of us don’t do it very often. The old analogy of putting your own oxygen mask on before being able to help anyone else in an emergency is so true, yet we often ignore it and end up being burned out, cranky and ineffective at our daily tasks, whether they are related to work or family.
Coming back to that quote, I actually think we can just as easily replace “clients” at the end of that sentence with any number of nouns: family, friends, partners, bosses, etc. Making sure Numero Uno is taken care of, physically and mentally/emotionally/spiritually is absolutely vital to being the best employee, spouse, parent, coach, friend, etc that you can be. You’ll find you have more patience and forgiveness, more energy to do all of the things you want and need to do, and you’ll be a happier, more fun person to hang out with!
A lot of people I talk to and work with feel like they can’t justify spending money on things like massages and gym memberships to take care of themselves. Totally understandable, but I do encourage people to consider the “risks” of NOT investing (at least a little bit) in yourself. Burn out, difficulty focusing on work, frustration and short tempers in your relationships and family setting are just a few of the results of not taking time solely to nourish yourself. I’m not suggesting you go into debt over extravagant trips to the spa. In fact, self-care doesn’t have to cost anything at all. There certainly are self-care practices that I recommend and partake in that do come with a price tag, but I feel that the benefits outweigh the costs on so many levels. For me, the greatest example is my pricey CrossFit gym membership, which I pay almost $150 a month for. The results of my membership go well beyond physical health and I’d even argue that it is one of my biggest mental health boosters. The time I spend in the gym gives me an outlet for stress, a social connection and community and confidence in my own abilities and my body. To me, that’s priceless.
That being said, there are many self-care activities you can focus on that are absolutely free and very easy to implement. Choose ones that speak to you and create the happiest, healthiest and best version of yourself. Here’s my list of eight ways to practice self-care without spending a dime:
Nourish your body with food. Choose foods that give you energy and make you feel good inside and out. Not sure how to begin reconnecting with and enjoying food that nourishes you? I’m here to help.
Stay hydrated. Just as nutritious food allows us to feel our best, staying adequately hydrated is important for maintaining energy, transporting vitamins and minerals, preventing headaches and more. Drink up, my friends!
Be grateful. I can’t even tell you how much practicing gratitude has changed my world. I keep a journal by my bedside and try to write 3 things I’m thankful for everyday. Research shows that this simple act primes our brains to seek out positivity throughout the day and in general, practicing gratitude gives perspective and keeps you grounded and happy.
Practice yoga and/or meditation. Just like gratitude, yoga and meditation help to ground us by calming our minds and allowing us to turn inward. If you’re a critic of mediation (as I was), try reading 10% Happier by Dan Harris or tuning into his podcast. Meditation has also completely changed my life and made me a happier, more forgiving person.
Move. Run, walk, swim, bike, lift weights…whatever feels like good movement for you. You don’t need a fancy gym membership (though as I said, for me it’s worth every penny), just your own body.
Sleep. The health benefits of a good quality night of sleep are innumerable. At the very least, getting enough rest means you’ll have energy to take on your day. It also makes you less irritable and more productive. Arianna Huffington’s The Sleep Revolution is a really good read with tips on how to get more/better sleep.
Get outside. Connecting with nature and breathing in fresh air is invigorating and might be just what you need to feel more centered and focused.
Laugh. Because laughter is the best medicine, right? Laughing boosts our immune system, decreases stress hormones and can strengthen social relationships too. It could be as simple as finding some funny YouTube clips (this one cracks me up every.single.time.)!
While all of these self-care practices are sure to leave you feeling healthier and happier, this list could go on and on. Do whatever works for you, otherwise it won’t stick. It’s also important to remember that you don’t have to “do it all”. Start by making sure you do ONE thing each day that’s just for you, no matter how small. Come back and tell me it doesn’t improve your health, your outlook and your relationships! 😉
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