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
- Practice gratitude
- Make a vision board
- Help someone
- Volunteer for a local non-profit
- Spend time gardening
- Meditate ( you can use Headspace app)
- Practice mindfulness
- 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!