Often we are busy taking care of someone else – perhaps this someone is our family member, spouse, friend, or patient. But when was the last time you took care of yourself? Remember the number one rule in helping others put on their oxygen mask in case of a flight emergency? “Please put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others…” This rings true because its meaning applies to real life. You need to take care of yourself before you take care of others, or you might begin to experience stress. Here are ten simple self-care activities for your mind, body and soul when you need a little love and care from yourself:
1. Be selfish
I know this sounds odd. But for today, just for one day, do something that makes you happy – whatever that means. For me, that means going for a walk alone so I can be in tune with my thoughts and emotions, even for just ten minutes.
2. Take a power nap
The best time to do this is when the person you are caring for is sleeping. Make sure to set an alarm so you don’t fall into a complete sleep cycle. If you are not a good napper, just lie down and close your eyes for a few minutes.
3. Pick up the phone
Is there someone you’ve been meaning to talk to lately? Whether you want to vent to someone about something or you simply want to ask how your loved ones are doing, pick up the phone. Making small connections like talking to someone on the phone is a good reminder that you are not alone.
4. Stroke a pet
Don’t have one? Take your phone out of your pocket. Open YouTube. Watch cute animal videos. Seriously.
5. Use your commute for a “Positivity Scavenger Hunt”
On your walk home, drive home, bicycle ride home, or bus home, pay attention to your surroundings, and point out five things that bring positivity to your day. For example: a beautiful flower, a young person offering his/her seat to an elderly person, or the fact that it’s sunny. Yes, the little things count.
6. Write your thoughts
If you are someone who’s not very good at expressing your thoughts and emotions, pick up a pen and a paper. Write down your thoughts, and then decide what you want to do with that piece of paper. If you’re angry, you might want to rip it apart. If you’re happy, you might want to keep it somewhere safe.
7. Turn the volume up
Oh, your favourite song is playing on the radio? Turn the volume up, get down and boogie! Blare your favourite song and have your own dance party.
8. Do one thing you’ve been putting off for too long
Because you’re so busy taking care of others, your to-do list has started to pile up. For today, do one thing that has been sitting on your to-do list forever. Get started on the laundry, exercise, or tidy up the house.
9. Take deep breaths
Overwhelmed? Take a seat with your back straight and your feet flat on the floor. Close your eyes. Take five deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth.
10. Ask for help
Remember, you don’t have to do this alone. Know your limits. Set boundaries for yourself. If there is a task that someone else can do, ask for help. For example, if you can’t leave the person you are caring for alone, get someone to cook, do the dishes, or take out the garbage. This will take some weight off your shoulders.
Which one will you try today?