10 of my Favorite Self- Care Activities (part 1)
Taking care of yourself is important. Caring for yourself can be spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally. We hear so much about Self-Care all of the time but how many of us actually do it. Self-Care looks different for everyone and it really depends on your personal interests and needs.
Recently, I was asked what I did to de-stress and ensure that I did not get secondary trauma from my job. It felt like I rambled on and on about what I enjoy doing to de-stress. I realized I have many things that I do that help me. Some of these practices are newer and some I have been practicing for a while.
Below is a list of the Top 5 self-care activities that work for me. The next 5 will be in a separate post.
There is something therapeutic about cooking that has made it one of my go to activities. It was not always in my top 10; however, the older I got, the more I enjoyed it. Discovering new recipes and creating them has worked wonders for my stress levels. Giving all of my energy to chopping, stirring, seasoning, e.t.c., allows me to let go of whatever has been going on throughout the day or the week. Cooking also allows me to be creative by switching up recipes or creating my own. The recipes I make usually involve whole foods so that I also nourishing my body. If you would like to try this, I suggest looking for simple recipes to start off. There are definitely some days that I am too exhausted to cook so ensure I do one of the other activities below.
There is a huge stigma in our communities about receiving Mental Health Services.
"Estas Loca ó que?" "Tu no tienes nada, exagerada." "What problems do you have?"
When I first told someone close to me that I was going to therapy every week, their response was, " That's for white people." It is not because I am in the field that I recommend it, sessions have been extremely helpful for me. Nothing has to be "wrong" with us to begin working with a therapist. There is so much that we carry with us throughout our lives. If we have no outlets for all that has happened in our lives, we hold it in. This can cause so many issues with us, physically, emotionally and mentally.
I grew up overthinking and being anxious. I kept it to myself because I did not think others would understand. For a lot of my life, I thought anxiety was normal. As I got older, I began to realize how a lot of what I experienced impacting me. It wasn't until Graduate School that I began working with a therapist, it wasn't regular but it allowed me to begin opening up.
This decision changed my life.
For the past 2 years, I have been seeing someone regularly. This has helped me get through many difficult situations and has allowed me to work through different issues: unrealistic expectations, insecurities, daily stressors, e.t.c. Not only do I get to talk to someone without judgement, but I have also learned different ways to cope with everything that I may have going on.
Therapy is definitely an investment. A financial investment and an investment in yourself. I have seen many people grow from receiving therapy. If you have medical insurance, you can go through them to receive services. If you do not have insurance, there are some organizations that will work with you for a sliding scale. Check your local organizations to get more information.
Some people chuckle when I tell them that I take baths. This is often met with, " I don't have time to take a bath." Because baths are such an amazing way to take care of yourself, I make time for them. Every Sunday night (or any other night when I need it), I get in the bath. I spend between 15-20 minutes or more relaxing. If you have children, this is something that you can do when they go to sleep. Think of this as time for yourself with so many great benefits. Depending on what you may feel like doing, you can read a book, watch Netflix, meditate, drink tea (or your preferred beverage) or just relax and do nothing.
This doesn't have to be a fancy bath with herbs, bubbles, and candle light. All you need is a bath tub, warm water and epsom salt. Epsom salt is helpful in easing stress and releasing toxins from the body. Of course, you can add different things to your bath, such as essential oils, bubbles, body oils, bath bombs, etc. My personal bath routine can be found in my Bedtime post.
4) Physical Activity
Exercise has been a great outlet for me and so many people that I know. During the warmer months, I like to go for runs. Sometimes I run 1 mile or 3 miles, depending on how much I have been running lately. This is helpful for me because it allows me to focus my energy on being active instead of different stressors. Running helps with clearing my head and giving me a new perspective. It is also a great way to stay active and healthy. During the time where I am doing physical activity, I sleep so much better.
For a while, I was doing boxing training. This was my favorite thing to do! I would sweat, push myself and I was getting stronger. If I had a rough day at work, I would drive straight to the boxing gym to train. Unfortunately, I had to stopped because of financial reasons.
Physical activity does not mean you have to be in the gym going hard every day. Physical activity can be going for a walk, jogging, playing sports, riding a bike, e.t.c.
Mindfulness is something that I began doing recently. I explain more about why in a previous post. Every morning, I wake up, find a meditation on Insight Timer, and meditate. Guided meditations are my preference because they help me focus; however, there are many free ones that you can choose from. Normally, I do the 5-10 minutes but do 15 minutes from time to time. You can do meditation any time of day. I like to do it in the morning to make sure I start my day off grounded. On my rough days, I listen to meditation to go to sleep. Because it allows us to focus on our breaths, this is something that can be tapped into during difficult moments. Even if it just a 1 minute meditation that you begin with, use it as sacred time for yourself. Focusing on your breath for one minute can make a difference in your entire day.
More to come
There are clearly other things that I do to de-stress and take care of myself. It would be too long of a post of I tried to fit them all in.
The key to finding what works for you is figuring out what you enjoy doing. Try some things out and see how you feel after. Think about certain activities that you may already be doing that allow you to take your mind off of what you are going through. If you already have something, stick with it. Take care of yourself. You are the only one responsible for that.
If it is hard for you to begin, be easy on yourself. Start small. Even a few minutes of some of these activities can make a huge difference in your everyday life.