I think that self care is something that everyone has heard of, but we’re not really sure how to do it. In this post I will give you my top ten ways to take awesome care of yourself so you can feel awesome!
This is one that I am still trying to perfect for myself. The thing about exercise is that it looks different for everyone! Some of you run 5 miles every day and some of you just take a walk around the block. BOTH of these are great! You have to start where you are. I’m at the point where going outside for a short walk is the most I can do. The point is to get up and get moving! As you do this everyday, you can progress to a more intense workout little by little.
Having a long-term goal AND a short-term goal with exercise is very important. A good short-term goal can be as short as “I want to feel good today and tomorrow, so I’m going to go for a walk.” In fact, this may be the most important goal! Self care is all about getting yourself to feel good sooner and more often.
My short-term goal is just that – to feel good today and tomorrow, no matter what day it is! My long-term goal is to get back in the gym doing full workouts. At this point that seems pretty far away, but if I stay consistent I’ll get there!
These first two are seeming pretty obvious, but they are SO important! Check out my post Foods That Increase and Lessen Pain for more specifics, but here I will give you a more general overview of how to have a good diet.
I always think about the good old food pyramid, even though it’s been changed to MyPlate by our girl Michelle Obama. But it has the same principles! Getting enough of each food group every day is incredibly important to feeling good and keeping your body running right. Protein, grains, vegetables, fruits, and dairy are the ones that you need every day! You can look up MyPlate to find out exactly how much of each group you need each day.
Here’s what I’ve found: diets are totally different for different people. I look at what and how much I eat vs. how much my husband eats and the difference is HUGE! Haha! Find what works best for you while choosing good sources of each of the food groups. If you’re allergic to something that rules out the majority of a food group, find another source! Even though you can’t eat the main source of a nutrient, there are always replacements!
Counseling has been an up and down journey for me. I first saw a therapist when I was a senior in high school. I was experiencing some pretty typical anxiety and depression for an almost-high school graduate. It was okay and it helped my issues in the moment. However, I didn’t love him and discontinued seeing him.
My next experience with counseling was at the beginning of my sophomore year in college. I went to the on-campus counseling. It was a little bit better, but they were SUPER busy (apparently college is stressful…). I didn’t really connect with that counselor either.
I asked my doctor who they recommend, which turned out to be the best thing for me in my counseling journey. She told me that finding a good therapist is like shoe shopping. They have to fit and feel good. This totally changed my perspective and it made so much sense now why I hadn’t had prior success!
They referred me to a family clinic here in Provo and I am still seeing them. My therapist now is a great fit for me. So please, please, please shop around before you give up on this important aspect of self-care.
I love sleep. Period. Honestly, maybe too much. You can sleep too little (which I’m sure we’ve all experienced) and you can sleep too much. I’m sure you’ve done both and noticed how yucky you feel because of it. I am NOT a morning person at all! So I’ve had to tailor my sleep schedule to that.
Plan your sleep schedule to be consistent – always go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time. I’m getting to the point where I wake up at 9:30 even without an alarm. You’re body just says “okay, I’m on board!” and starts to use its own alarm clock.
It’s said that you need about 7-9 hours of sleep as an adult, but you need to find out what works best for you! I need anywhere from 9-11 hours of sleep to function optimally. When you’ve figured out how you function best, plan your sleep schedule around that! They will all be unique.
This is one that I am not great at yet. But when I do it, I feel great! There are SO many ways to meditate, so you’re going to have to shop around for this one as well. There are tons of great apps for this that you can just turn on while you fall asleep!
One way that I’ve learned is to sit, close your eyes, breathe deeply, and imagine that you are in one of your favorite, peaceful places. As you are sitting in this place, imagine there is a stream nearby with leaves or flower petals falling into the water. You watch these leaves being carried away by the current of the stream. These leaves are your troubles. It may sound cheesy, but once you try it I think you’ll like it!
One thing I want to touch on is how to breathe deeply. My therapist taught me “magic breathing” and I swear by it. You take in as much air as possible and then let it all escape your lungs naturally; DON’T force it out! Let all the air escape and then repeat. This lets your brain know that it doesn’t need to be in “fight or flight” and activates the sympathetic nervous system which is in charge of rest and relaxation. You’ll feel great!
6. Stay Busy…But Not Too Busy
Being busy is key to wanting to get out of bed in the morning. BUT being too busy is key to not wanting to get out of bed in the morning. Read that one more time… When I have a few things to do in a day, I wake up more excited and ready to go. However, when I am booked up for the day with no free time or room to breathe, I just want to hide in bed all day.
Knowing your own limits is very important for this element of self care. It’s important to not feel badly if you can’t do as much as someone else you know. You are unique and your efforts are never less than someone else’s!
Additionally, how much you can do will vary on any given day. This is especially true with fibromyalgia. Something I want to burn into your brains is if you do too much on your good days, you will have more bad days. You should do more on your good days, but not too much. This is an important distinction. Once again, it will look different for everyone. And this applies to YOU! Even if you don’t have depression, or anxiety, or fibromyalgia. All these tips are for all of you!
7. Have Fun!
Taking “me-time” is incredibly important. You need to have time to do things that fuel you – things that you are passionate about! Whether this is just relaxing with a good tv show or book or going up into the mountains to appreciate nature, you need to take time for it.
I really love crafting, but I hardly have time to do it! I have to set aside time and certain projects in order to get it done. When I do, I feel proud of what I have made and I feel a lot better about myself as well.
Another one for me is music. I LOVE playing the piano. Unfortunately, I don’t get to do it that much anymore. However, I try to set aside a little bit of time everyday even I only get to play one or two songs.
What are you passionate about? What relaxes you? What makes you happy? These questions should get you going and help you decide what to spend your me-time doing.
Pick one of these to start working on today! Tell me which one you’re picking! And remember: start small. If you make too big of a goal, it will feel overwhelming and you won’t want to even attempt it.