The beginning of a new year, especially the winter months, can be difficult for staying optimistic, putting yourself out there, and taking care of yourself. That’s a lot to demand just 20 odd days into the new year. The holiday season has come to an end and the pressure of resolution planning takes over - sometimes pushing us to make unrealistic goals for the year ahead.
This month, we turned our focus to self-care, as mental health should always come first before anything else (and let’s face it, many of us fail to put ourselves first). To help you get in the groove of making yourself number one (and there is nothing selfish about this), we’ve put together 5 daily self-care routines you can easily implement in your schedule with a simple mindset shift: putting the spotlight on you first before others. Trust us, it will do you and everyone around you (especially those who depend on you) a lot of good, and set you up for success long-term instead of short-term sprints as you glide through 2019.
If you put intention into your entire week, into everyday, mindfully considering how to make the most of everything, would you do it? Second question, if it was actually decently easy to accomplish, would you implement the planning practice?
Mindful planning starts with understanding what you want to get out of a day or week, and being intentional about how you will approach each goal or activity. Think about how many times you put yourself on auto-pilot during a day - maybe in weekly update meetings, listening to the radio in the car, calling your mother. Start by becoming aware of tasks or activities you participate in on a daily or weekly basis that you could be more mindfully present for. Start to note these moments down and evaluate how you can be more engaged - whether it’s turning your phone off during meetings, driving in silence, or actually sitting down to talk to your mother instead of multitasking your way through the call.
Often when we're trying to analyze something that has happened to us or when we're trying to navigate a situation, we rely on friends and family to rant about it. But what about you actually digesting and analyzing your own thoughts? If you don't spend the time to do the internal work first, it becomes very easy to be influenced by the thoughts, opinions and suggestions of others. This is where journaling helps. Putting a pen to paper, or digitally writing entries into your phone, is a very therapeutic practice for reflection. It can lead you to your own discoveries and ideas for moving forward.
Browse a bookstore or online ethical paper shop to find a journal design that inspires you. Keep it on you - in your purse or backpack, at your desk, or beside your bed - and put aside a convenient time everyday to write. Even if there isn't much to write about, give yourself peace of mind by putting your words out there in the universe so you aren’t interrupting your sleep and daily focus.
The Great Outdoors
Get outside at least once a day for 20 minutes or so. This becomes increasing difficult for those working 9 to 5 in office settings, but 20 minutes isn't going to interrupt your busy day. You can do 20 minutes walking to a meeting, or getting lunch and sitting at a park to enjoy it. Maybe even a coffee run with a colleague or friend that's just a little further than your regular coffee spot. We can all use a little more vitamin C than we actually get - especially if you're currently in a winter city covered in snow. Sneaking in those extra 20 minutes (or if you can do 60, do it!), will fill your soul with warmth, a sprinkle of happiness, and fresh air.
The first few minutes after waking up in the morning are crucial to how your day will be unfold. According to a study by J.C. Pruessner, we release the most stress hormones in the morning. If you happen to check your phone or email as soon as you wake up, you could be unintentionally sending cortisol to your blood stream which will ignite your “fight or flight” instincts for the day ahead.
Start making your mornings slower by getting up earlier and taking your time with your morning routine. Don't go for your phone as soon as you wake up, instead, stretch out and inhale 5 deep breaths before putting coffee or tea on. This will ease your body into the day, and mentally prep you for what’s ahead.
Set a time in your evening where you no longer need to look at your phone, laptop or communicate with anyone outside of your household. Use this time before sleeping to connect with your partner, your children and/or yourself. Our fast paced lives often make us surrender to the grind 24/7, forgetting to appreciate and immerse in moments that are just for us. Start feeding your body, mind and soul with more time for loved one and indulging in things that are safe, and bring you happiness so you can end each day on a high note.