Learning to prioritize yourself and to claim time for your goals is critical for long term success in health and weight loss. Self-care is necessary for our physical and mental health, yet often it’s the first thing we drop when we find ourselves stretched for time. Without adequate self-care, we are less likely to be the best possible version of ourselves, and our relationships, work, and experience of the world, suffers as a result. You’ve probably been there—you get worn out and lose your motivation or you just can’t figure out how to fit it all in your already busy schedule.
When life gets busy, personal priorities, self-care, or ‘me-time’ may start to feel expendable and to drift off your radar. Many smart, busy people get stuck in the mindset trap of believing that self-care is selfish or a luxury—something you can get to later.
The hardest part of rekindling a relationship with your personal well-being is always the initial disconnect. Prioritizing yourself can feel strange, especially if you’re not used to it or haven’t done it in a while. This article is to remind you that self-care isn’t selfish, it’s completely essential to functioning at your best. Taking care of YOU is not a luxury. Like getting regular oil changes for your car, prioritizing your self-care is what allows you to run smoothly and to bring your best to your other priorities and challenges. If you need a little pep in your step, here’s a self-care guide for spring, because everyone has five minutes and you don’t need a reason to honour yourself.
A lot of research has been done on the benefits of meditation. Therefore, there’s really no excuse not to sit still for at least five minutes a day—and there’s no right or wrong time to do it. The best meditation is the one you’ll do consistently. Taking a mindful walk, meditating after a yoga practice, or sitting for a few minutes at the end of the day is hugely beneficial for keeping stress levels at bay. Being mindful or entering a meditative state always begins with your breath. You can be sitting on the subway, or at your office chair and just take a deep breath in and a long exhale.
Here’s a quick meditation exercise:
Take 5-10 breaths, exhaling for longer than you inhale. Long exhales activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which slows your heart rate. Focus only on your breath. If you feel your mind wandering, gently bring it back to the breath.
Keep a Journal.
No, not the “Dear Diary” kind, unless that’s what floats your boat. There are new, more efficient ways to journal that can seamlessly fit into your life. For example, the 5-minute journal takes only five minutes (as promised) and has proved to infuse joy, generosity, community, and positive emotions. If you’re visually minded, try bullet journaling. Or start a 5-Year Journal, which asks you to answer one question a day for 5 years. The key to making journaling successful, at least to start, is to give your reflections some direction.
Nourish your body.
Make sure you’re nourished on a cellular level, and don’t underestimate this one! No one is immune to vitamin deficiencies. If you’re a busy modern woman or man, chances are you aren’t getting all the nutrients you need from food, and especially not if you’re plant-based or follow any kind of restricted eating plan. The plus sized? There’s no need to be the crazy vitamin person!
Shift the energy.
Sometimes when we reach for our vices, what we really need is an energy shift. Obviously, we can’t always take an hour-long yoga class or make it to the gym, so we recommend starting a little essential oil collection to keep in your workspace or travel bag. It’s a great, simple way to reset that doesn’t take much time or effort. To utilize oils, you’d need to waft the contents of the bottle under your nose, as putting essential oils directly on the skin can be irritating.
Grounding: Frankincense —it’s homey, calming, and complex enough to engage your senses immediately and facilitate grounding.
Focusing: Lemon—it’s a sharp scent that immediately focuses the mind.
Creativity: Florals, like jasmine, are excellent for creativity and has an uplifting effect on the mood.
Relaxing: Vetiver is often recommended to people with insomnia, as it’s known for its soporific quality.
Try some inversions.
Whether you sit for a living or you’re active, putting your legs up the wall is therapeutic because it brings the blood that’s been in your legs through the circulatory and lymph systems, and this is calming for your nervous system.
Inversions reverse the effects of gravity. They allow blood to flood toward the brain, nourishing it. They improve circulation, venous return, and lymph drainage. It is understood that the primary intention of inversions is to gain the physiological benefits of this ‘active reversal’ known as ‘Viparita Karani.’
Two variations of this pose can be beneficial here:
Placing a bolster or folded blanket up against the wall for your pelvis to rest on. This emphasizes the inversion aspect of this pose as the hips (along with the legs) become higher than the head and heart. If you feel like you have to maintain some sort of tension to keep the legs from splaying open, wrap a strap (or any other item) around your feet or ankles, so they stay together and you can relax. If you’re feeling adventurous, combine this with meditation, essential oils, multi-masking, or all of the above.
Whether you’re feeling a bit down, going through a transition, or feeling great, self-care is an important practice to cultivate. It grounds us, brings us back to ourselves, and almost always gives us insight that we wouldn’t have had without the time to reflect. Shake off the notion that self-care has to be elaborate—it’s nice sometimes, but then all you really need is a few minutes. It’s consistency that counts.