Oftentimes, we get so caught up in the perpetual hustle and bustle of day-to-day life that we forget to stop and show ourselves some love. Recovery is bountiful – it truly is! We regain what we had lost while simultaneously being blessed with many gifts beyond our wildest dreams. We begin forming meaningful relationships with others, we may start working an idealistic job or delving back into long-since abandoned personal passions. We become functional members of society; we learn what it means to pay bills and budget and give back. And oh, what a blessing it is to finally be able to give back! We take on responsibilities we could never before fulfill. We begin sponsoring, we take on service commitments, and we lead by example. Our lives are full with ceaseless miracles. Finally, our lives have meaning. Meaning and structure, filled to the brim with people and places and things.
Be Kind to Yourself
So full, perhaps, that we slowly begin to lose sight of the vital importance of putting our own mental, emotional, and spiritual health first. If you ever begin to feel unbalanced or overwhelmed, ask yourself, “Am I practicing adequate self-care?” Repeatedly putting the needs of others before our own needs may work to create feelings of stress and resentment, and ultimately hinder us from being our best selves. Numerous studies have shown that adding slightly more self-care into one’s daily routine not only helps to reduce stress levels significantly, but also works towards bolstering overall happiness and increasing productivity. Showing ourselves as much compassion as we readily show others will help us to perpetuate a cycle of positivity, and allow us to meet all other relationships with clarity and gratitude.
Practice Self-Care in 10 Simple Steps
- Express Gratitude.
Dedicate a journal or notebook exclusively to gratitude. Keep it by your bed, and each night before you lay down to sleep, write a short list of things you are grateful to have. Clean sheets, a roof over your head, a good friend to talk to, and a well-worn book to snuggle up with are all noteworthy. When you start to feel angered or dissatisfied with your current circumstances, look to this list as a reminder of all that you have been blessed with.
- Eat Well.
All too often, we hurriedly consume a meal while rushing to an appointment or sending off emails, so intent on efficiently multitasking that we forget to relax and enjoy. Every once in awhile, prepare yourself (or treat yourself to) a wholesome, nourishing meal – set aside an hour to truly enjoy it, eating mindfully and without urgency. Indulge without any distractions; you deserve to be treated!
- Read a Book.
There are few things as gratifying as looking forward to getting back into a good story after a long day of work. Cozying up with a good book promotes happiness and a sense of comfort, while providing a brief and healthy escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Spending an hour or two browsing a bookstore is also a great way to practice self-care – spending some quality time with yourself and treating yourself to a positive little purchase!
Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat can be fun to engage in every once in awhile, but be sure you are not spending excessive hours comparing yourself to the highlight reels and success stories of others. Keep in mind that your friends and acquaintances will only share the best versions of themselves online, and that life is not a competition anyways. Take a day-long break from social media in its entirety, and ground yourself back in reality.
Creating something, whether it be a homemade batch of chocolate chip cookies, a piece of jewelry, or a sloppy watercolor painting, will work to keep you grounded while promoting a sense of productivity and self-esteem. Get artistic! Spend the afternoon making something – either something to share with loved ones, or something to enjoy on your own.
- Build a Safe Space.
Are you in love with your bedroom? If not, hit a thrift store for some fun old art, or scope out a home goods store for some scented candles and decorative pillows. Giving your bedroom a little ‘spruce up’ and turning into a safe and cozy space for you to relax and unwind is an excellent way to practice self-care.
- Note Your Accomplishments.
Do you typically write up a quick ‘to do’ list at the beginning of the day? While this practice will undeniably help keep your life organized and your goals realistic and tangible, it is equally as important to make note of the things you ‘have done’. At the end of the day, write up a short list of your daily accomplishments. You deserve a pat on the back for all you manage to get done over the course of one solitary day. Take a look at how far you’ve come!
We all know that exercising releases endorphins, but not everyone likes spending a portion of their day running on a treadmill or endlessly climbing a case of imaginary stairs. Not a gym rat? Find something else that moves you! Take a hike or a swing dancing class, look into kayaking or take a bike ride. Find a physical activity that you personally enjoy, and engage in it regularly (or mix it up constantly) to improve your happiness and keep you healthy!
- Gift Your Inner Child.
Think back to a time when you were little, and you were doing something that brought you immense amounts of childlike bliss. Did you enjoy finger painting on a big sheet of construction paper? Roasting marshmallows by the fire; exploring a favorite museum? Set aside some time to nourish and reward your inner child by partaking in some coveted pastime activities. There is nothing wrong with taking a trip back in time and comforting yourself with a nostalgic pursuit. Acknowledge and gift the child inside.
- Make a Self-Care Kit.
Head to the local drug store and pick out some comforting and special items that make you feel safe and cared for. Your favorite candy, a comic book, some scented candles, and a pair of fuzzy socks, for example. Place these items in a fun container and store them in your closet for an extra dose of self-love when you need it most.
Pamper Yourself – You Deserve It
After living of a life of selfish, self-centered indulgence for so long, it may feel a bit strange to offer ourselves the compassion and respect we so readily show others. We may feel undeserving, figuring that it is now our time to give back what we have thoughtlessly taken for so long – patience, time, and stability. And while it is true that we now have the incomparable ability to contribute, we must always remember that without our personal health and happiness, we will be of little use to others. Take time to love yourself. Give yourself a hug and buy yourself an ice cream cone. Slow down. Be present. You deserve fulfillment.