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As a self-proclaimed “Self-Care Junkie”, I will be the first one to admit that self-care hasn’t always been my strong suit. Now, it’s my favourite ‘past time’ and the foundation of all my successes, big and small. Here, I’m going to share some of my top self care tips and more on my journey to self-care bliss.
Four years ago, I was working as an Occupational Therapist (OT) and building a thriving makeup artistry business. While working constantly, I was trying to be everything to everyone else, so much so that I allowed a lot of negativity in my life, because I thought that was supposed to be what a ‘caring and compassionate’ friend and girlfriend does. What was missing… was care and compassion for numero uno, myself! In the summer of that year, I sustained major injuries from a car accident and my wellness boot camp journey began!
As an OT, I’m trained to to engage others in the foundational activities of our lives: Self-Care, Productivity and Leisure. How ironic Ha! Self-care is number one for us OTs and it should be for all of us. However, in this hectic, information overloaded, work-round-the-clock world, self-care taking often falls last on our list of “things to do!”.
As a result of being injured my accident, I received OT myself. This was a cool experience because it gave me greater respect for my profession, and allowed me to take a hard look at self-care practices. Now, as Life and Health Coach I guide clients toward living their most vibrant lives and embodying their best selves through empowering self-care practices, both body and mind. And of course, my own personal wellness is my top priority. Because let’s face it, Self-Care is the most important job we have. Being healthy, happy, rested and recharged is the foundation of all productivity. And if you’re anything like me and you thrive on being “busy” like I do, then it’s all the more reason for you to pay attention to your needs. The last thing you want to do is burn out!
Here 10 tips for Self-Care
- Dress up and adorn!
I used to never get my nails done. Mainly, I thought it was too expensive and deep down I felt I didn’t deserve to be a ‘high class’ babe with sexy nails. Well, when my entire schedule turned into lying in a hospital bed, doing physiotherapy, and trying to eat more than 2 spoonfuls of food, making the trek to the nail salon to have your feet rubbed while you sit in a chair that massages you is pretty damn luxurious.! I haven’t looked back since. Spending a little more time some days and generally taking pride in your appearance can really brighten your mood. You are a beautiful miracle of life. Dress up and fancy yourself up every once in a while!
- Quiet that brain upstairs
Meditation saved my life. My thoughts used to cycle a mile a minute and I had a difficult time slowing down the hamster wheel. I had a lot of fear, resentment, and anger around the time my injury, and honestly I needed tools to observe what was going on in my mind, but also my heart. I sought the help of a coach with extensive meditation training, eventually practiced daily and began attending group meditation circles. I have a meditation bench and pillow set up in my room. Do I meditate every day? No. But, I’m working on it. But it’s always there when I need to listen to and observe the storms brewing inside. Meditation is one way to take a moment outside of my head and focus my energy inside of my heart. Many people tell me that meditation is ‘too hard’ or there is too much going on in their heads. That is all the more reason to ease into meditation through constant practice it. There are some great apps out there, for example Calm, & Headspace. There are a lot of great meditation circles in the city too. It’s always nice to share space with others to keep you motivated. I find that meditation helps me look at some of my negative patterns or negative things in life in different ways – as opportunities for positive growth. Give it try!
- Don’t be afraid to let go
Sometimes thoughts, people, activities, jobs and places need to be put on pause or let go of completely. I have discovered that things that no longer serve my lifestyle, piece of mind, or do not bring out the best in me take up too much of my precious energy. It doesn’t mean that they are gone forever (although that is ok too, if needed), but you have to do what is best for your health. I have started to really reflect on what is authentic to me and only channel my time and resources on things that light me up inside.
- Express yourself
Join a class, paint, draw, journal – you don’t have to be an artist to be creative. We all have stories, colours, shapes, songs inside of us. Don’t be afraid to let the story inside you out in a medium that feels right to you! I have enjoyed writing workshops with Firefly Creative Writing Studio. I considered it both a self-care activity and part of my professional development. I was able to get the creative juices flowing and unload some pent up emotions on paper. I highly recommend creative or journal writing whether you think you are ‘good’ at writing or not. And honestly, as a proud Filippino, Karaoke has become one hella good way to express myself! Singing and singing together is really a joyous activity. It has helped me feel more confident and it’s also cathartic.
- Spend time in nature
Nature grounds us. The Earth is powerful. We live in condos and drive cars and stare at our phones all day. Here, try this – check your mood before going on an 30 – 1 hour nature walk in one of our cities beautiful parks and then check your mood after. Try and tell me how it goes.
Chances are, you’ll feel renewed, more calm and the physical activity will release endorphins. Plus, the beer you enjoy after will taste that much better. #balanceA balance lifestyle is key. I am fortunate to live in an area with a lot of parks and trees. When I am feeling overwhelmed, I drop everything I am doing and go for a walk. I will often sit on my patio and watch the leaves blow in the wind and appreciate the beauty and vastness of the sky.
- Join a class, hire a trainer, run with a friend or fly solo. GET MOVING.
Moving your body stimulates so many essential functions. It is known that exercise has so many benefits. Do I really need to list them?! While working through my injury, physio was essential to regain basic movements (like walking!), and functions (circulation), then it was to build strength, range of motion etc. So now, when I complete a workout with my trainer or finish a spin class I tell myself “You’re a damn warrior!” even if I was dragging my feet before stepping foot in the studio. Even if it is 10 mins a day, make time for yourself. Your body is a magnificent machine, move it or lose it.
- Schedule and plan ahead
Staying organized is a part of self-care. And here’s an idea – schedule self-care into your agenda while your scribbling in your next work meeting. Make time and space for yourself. I am not a master organizer, at least, not all the time. I forget stuff and take on too much and get confused.
So I have started to colour code my activities so I am AT LEAST making sure I am scheduling naps and meal prep. Otherwise…..drum rollll. I am tired and hangry. And no one wants that.
- Talk it out and let the tears flow
Never underestimate the power of a good cry. If you feel stressed, upset, angry, sad, or any emotions that elicits tears….let them flow. Releasing the negative energy through those beautiful, salty tears will allow you to purge some of that pain. It’s always a good idea to talk to a trusted friend, therapist, coach or anyone who has earned the privilege to hear your story
(Brene Brown). Allow someone to hold space for you. In life, we’re not supposed to be happy all the time. As human beings we have the ability to feel a range of emotions, which are all beautiful and serve a purpose. Do what you need to do to feel them and then gradually return to equilibrium. Bottling up your tears can lead to the difficult emotions manifesting negatively in other parts of your life. Let it out.
- Make those meals count. Food is medicine for your body and your soul.
Food is medicine. Food is fuel. Our relationship with food impacts our overall well-being. Eat sensibly. Just remember that your body will run better on whole foods, vegetables, organic proteins, filtered water etc. Count chemicals instead of calories. Less (or no) chemicals the better. The more nourishing the foods you put in your body the more energy you will have and the better your mood will be. Trust me.
- Laugh with your friends
Laughter is the best medicine. The simple act of genuinely laughing resets me, in a positive way. It lifts a lot of weight and heaviness that was there and I find it shakes off the dust (Dust = sadness, stagnant energy). Spend time with people you love and who love you back. Friends, families, partners… we are social creatures who thrive in the presence of trusting and warm relationships. Laugh as often as possible and love even more.