Jessica Sanders shares 6 ways to kick-start your self-care routine.
The term ‘self-care’ seems to be everywhere right now. It’s widely used in advertising, where it’s coupled with the idea of indulgence or pampering. And while self-care can look like wearing a face mask in the tub, it’s also so much more than that.
Self-care can be crushing it at the gym one day and spending the whole day in your pyjamas the next. It can be volunteering in your local community, setting healthy boundaries or even be as simple as getting enough sleep.
Ultimately, self-care is tuning in to your mind, body and spirit, and respecting what you find there.
Self-care can be viewed differently, depending on your standpoint. For me, I see it as a practice, a holistic routine that incorporates all parts of the self. For this reason, I categorise it into four equal parts: care of the physical, mental, future and spiritual self. Envisaging self-care in this way treats it holistically, and also makes it easier to identify which part of yourself needs your focus.
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The four parts of the self are linked of course. When you care for one, the impact is felt by all at different levels. The practice of self-care is contagious: one step in the right direction will lead to more.
Committing to a self-care practice has the real potential to make you happier, healthier and more closely aligned with the life you want to lead.
Here are a few ways to kick-start your self-care routine.
1. Dance up a storm
A good dance session is a great way to quieten a busy mind. Not only is dancing a great form of exercise, it also positively impacts mood and energy levels and reduces stress.
Cue a couple of your favourite tracks and move your body just for fun. You might feel silly at first, dancing on your own, but after a little while you won’t be able to stop the smile from creeping across your face. Remember, nobody is watching, and nobody cares, so just let your body move in whatever way it wants to without judgement.
“Do something every day that is loving towards your body and gives you the opportunity to enjoy the sensations of your body.” – Golda Poretsky
2. Experiment with aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to bring about physiological and emotional changes. Oil burners or diffusers are common ways of using essential oils. A few drops in water is all that is needed.
Here are a few common ways essential oils can be used to care for the physical and mental self.
- Lavender: good for sleep, very calming
- Sandalwood: supports mental clarity
- Chamomile: calms the nerves and alleviates anxiety
- Peppermint: helps to boost energy levels
- Rose: soothing for grief and loss
3. Write a letter to your future self
Writing a letter to your future self will help you to make decisions that positively impact future you. It’s also a great way to reconnect with your goals and aspirations, which will help keep you on track to achieving them.
Spend half-an-hour writing to your future self, covering the following topics:
- What do you hope for your future self?
- What would you like to see happen in the future?
- What do you want to be different to how it is for you now?
When you have finished your letter, stick it in an envelope and address it to your future self. You could even specify an age when you would like to read it. Put the letter away somewhere safe and forget about it for now.
4. Go for a hike
The simple act of being in nature relieves mental fatigue, strengthens the right hemisphere of the brain and restores harmony to the functioning of the brain as a whole. Contact with nature has been found to positively impact blood pressure, cholesterol, outlook on life and stress-reduction.
Hiking is a great way to connect with nature and move your body – grab some friends or go it alone. If you do decide to hike solo make sure you’re prepared and let someone know where you are going.
While immersed in nature, focus on all that you are seeing and hearing. Think about the seeds that had to grow and the time that had to pass in order to create this beautiful environment. If you really start to think deeply about nature and how it came to be, it’s hard not to experience a feeling of genuine wonderment – a state of awed admiration and respect.
5. Watch an episode of Queer Eye
This is probably one of my favourite self-care activities and one that I could not resist including. I love Queer Eye because it is the ultimate feel-good reality TV show – a big part of the show is encouraging others to practice self-care.
Equip yourself with some tissues, tasty snacks and settle in for the wonderful ride. The Fab Five will have you laughing one second and crying the next. I promise that you are going to walk away from this show with your heart warmed and your faith in humanity restored.
6. Manage your money
If you’ve ever struggled with money you know that it can take a huge toll on your mental, physical and future self. The way we manage our money will directly impact the quality of our life. Many of us are not taught how to manage our money, which is madness considering the important role it plays in our lives.
If you’re someone who struggles to save or is unsure about your financial situation this activity is a great starting point for you. You’ll need a pen, four different coloured highlighters, a blank piece of paper, and a printout of your bank statement dating back one month.
1. Figure out your financial situation
Draw four columns and write one of these headings per column: Earn, Spend Essentials, Spend Personal, Save. Use your statement and four pens to turn your transactions into a dollar-value per column:
- Earn is the total amount you earn each month.
- Spend Essentials is the amount you spend on essential items like rent, groceries, bills, loan repayments etc.
- Spend Personal is the amount you spend on non-essential items like coffees, meals out, accessories etc.
- Save is, you guessed it, the amount you put into long-term savings.
2. Set your goals
What is it that you’re saving for? Do you want to save a deposit for your first home, do you want to travel around Europe, do you want to adopt a doggo? Write down your goals, then next to them write down how much it will cost to achieve that goal.
3. Create your budget and start saving
Now that you have the important calculations, you’ll be able to create a budget or saving plan that will allow you to work towards your goals. There are some great budgeting books and apps out there.
This is an edited extract from ‘ME TIME: The self-care guide to being your own best friend’, by Jessica Sanders. Art by Stephanie Spartels. Five Mile, RRP$24.99, Hardback.