Roundup Of My Favorite Self-Care Activities
For years, I struggled with practicing self-care. To be honest, I’m still not the best at caring for my own needs. It was only after way too many health issues brought on by stress aggravating my chronic illness that I finally got it. If I don’t put myself closer to the top of my to do list, my body will rebel and I’ll be forced to. Even if you are perfectly healthy, putting your needs at the bottom of your list will be a problem in the long run.
That being said, even though I know that self-care is important and no one benefits if mom ignores her needs for too long, it is hard to put it into practice. There are only so many hours in the day and the to do lists are way too long. On top of that, if you wait to save self-care for after the kids are in bed, you’ll probably be too tired to make it happen.
My kids are 8 and 4 and my 4 year old is essentially my shadow. I get very little time to myself until he goes to bed. There are some weekends where I’m so burned out from having a shadow that I would snap if I didn’t take a little time to myself. I need to practice self-care with him or sneak away when he isn’t watching for my own sanity.
My Favorite Self-Care Practices
If you are struggling with figuring out how to fit in self-care or what type of self-care to do, these are my favorite things that I actually do a few times a week.
- Take a walk. This is my favorite self-care practice but I usually only make time for it over the weekend. I either do this right when I wake up or after lunch while the kids are watching TV. I get my walking shoes on grab my phone (for music) and go. Sometimes I just walk around my block a few times, sometimes I walk the track at the park across the street. It doesn’t matter where I go, so long as I get out by myself. I’d like to figure out a way to squeeze in a trip to the gym or a walk at the beach, but just getting out and getting fresh air works wonders on my mood.
- Practice Yoga. This is a new one for me. I used to hate yoga. Hate. However, I’ve been dealing with some new health issues and other stressors and I now look forward to doing yoga. I’m not at all flexible, which is part of the reason I hated yoga. I’m so glad that one day, on a whim, I was searching for a fitness video on my cable provider’s OnDemand exercise station and found “Gentle Yoga.” I was hooked after one workout. I now try to do it at least three times a week. I have also found some great Gentle Yoga videos on YouTube, if you don’t have cable. My favorite bedtime workout is here and I also enjoy this one for Fibromyalgia relief. If you can’t squeeze in a 20 minute yoga practice, at least give my bedtime stretching routine a try. I have been known to do it with my 4 year old.
- Practice Mindfulness. I have wanted to practice meditation for a long time. Every time I tried, I failed. The one thing that has finally worked for me is to do guided meditations. My two favorite apps are Headspace (free for first 10) and Calm. I won’t lie, I REALLY like Headspace but I am too cheap to buy the subscription so once my 10 days were up, I moved on to Calm, which is free.
- Steal From The Danish. If you haven’t heard about hygge (pronounced hue-guhh), you clearly haven’t been on Pinterest. Hyyge is basically the Danish word for enjoying life’s simple pleasures. There are tons of posts on Pinterest on how to do this, from making your home more hygge-friendly to incorporating small self-care acts that fit into the definition, such as drinking warm drinks or lighting candles. I’ve been drinking a cup of tea in the late afternoon and just taking a few minutes to savor it. I’ve also done some serious decluttering so that my living space feels more relaxing. I can’t tell you what a difference that has made. It makes me happy to walk into my living room and not see toys and piles of paper everywhere.
- Make Time For My Entertainment. One interesting thing about technology and changes with cable and streaming entertainment is that my kids seem to control the TV. I remember as a kid, my parents watched their shows at night and my brothers and I could hang out or play in our room. Now, I find that my kids have the TV and my husband and I can’t watch our shows until after they go to bed. I’ve started reading books and magazines while the kids watch TV, rather than always doing chores. The chores will never go away but I deserve some downtime and I like relaxing with the kids. Occasionally, I institute family art night and we all color together. Can you treat yourself to entertainment every now and then instead of always focusing on the house?
There are so many small self-care tweaks you can make to your day. The point is to pick things that are doable in your environment. I don’t always get to do the 37 minute yoga video on OnDemand, which is why I sought out shorter videos that I could still do after the kids are asleep. Don’t write off self-care just because you don’t have enough time. Instead, find self-care practices that can be done in the time you do have.