Self Care Best Practices: Get back to the basics.

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The term “self-care” is everywhere these days. We all are becoming more aware that if we spend too much time taking care of others, we lose ourselves. Whether it’s physical, mental, or emotional, a little bit of us can start to go each day… until we’re a shell of a person just going through the motions.  But there’s a reason flight attendants tell you to put your oxygen mask on first in the event of an emergency: You cannot help yourself or others if you are unconscious or dead… or wigging TF out.

Stress, depression, and illness are all on the rise and I feel like I know people who’ve been in dire straits for years on end. We need to take better care of ourselves and that means putting yourself first sometimes. The problem with most self-care activities though? It seems like ONE MORE THING to put on our to-do lists. And when you’re finished with your hot bath, your 60 minute massage, or that pedicure that you scheduled to make yourself feel more relaxed, all your other shit to do is STILL THERE, because it hasn’t been done since you were taking time for yourself. This is why people don’t do things that are good for them… My suggestion?

Get back to the basics before you do anything else. 

Address the biggest issues that cause you to be more stressed in the first place.

In no particular order:

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{Get Good Sleep MOST nights during the week}

People don’t workout if they’re tired, they’re not productive when they’re tired, they don’t even have sex if they’re too tired… so get some damn sleep! I have those nights where I don’t get a lot of sleep, but most nights of the week, I make sure to be in bed by 10:00pm, 10:30 at the latest. I learned a long time ago that if I don’t sleep enough, I feel awful during the day. When I feel awful, I don’t workout and I want to eat crap food, which makes me feel worse. Getting a lot of sleep most nights of the week keeps me feeling good. I also try to steer clear of screens after 8pm so I can get to sleep faster. I’ll admit that this doesn’t always happen… but I try.

How: Get in bed and stay there. Dvr shows to watch on the weekend instead of during the week (or limit how many you’re keeping up with – I watch 2 shows). Read a book or magazine (a real one, not from a brightly lit screen) to help you get sleepy. I haven’t had a tv in my bedroom for years and that helps too.

For you brand new parents out there that are just laughing at this: this one obviously will be hard for you, because it’s damn near impossible. Good luck… until they’re old enough to listen to the “you don’t have to be asleep, you just have to stay in bed” rule. Keep reading though… there’s more.

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{Eat Real Food, Cook Dinner MOST Nights}

I cook dinner most nights of the week. Because real food is good for me and my family, and it’s cheaper than restaurant meals, I cook. Do not tell yourself cooking is too hard/time consuming. People have been doing it forever. It’s only in the past few decades that people have let other events take up time in the evenings. Do I cook every night? No. Re-read the first sentence. If I make enough, I can have leftovers the next day.

How: Get one of those home delivery meal services for a month or two to learn some new recipes and new cooking skills in order to enjoy cooking more (because it sucks if you suck at it). Kids can even help too. If the kids are old enough, delegate that ish! When I was in middle school, my mom or dad would call me and my brother when we got home from school and have us peel potatoes or chop veggies or defrost meat, so that by the time they were home, they could cook quickly before we had to head off to dance or soccer games. It takes about 5-8 minutes to steam veggies (which also cost about $1-$2) in the microwave or cook them on the stove top. Most fish can be baked in the oven for 20-30 minutes, needing not much work at all other than olive oil and salt & pepper. Remember: Dinner doesn’t have to be fancy!

 

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{Get Outside, Whatever the Weather}

I think people would be much healthier and the earth much cleaner if people took time to be outside for a little bit every single day. There are numerous studies on how the outdoors positively affects your mental and physical health. There’s this one. This one. And this one.

How: Nobody has time for a two hour hike every day, unless you’re retired, so think small. Instead of scrolling Facebook for the next 10 minutes, go for a walk around your neighborhood or office building. You could even take a work call on your phone if you pop in your ear buds while you cruise. If it’s cold, put on a coat, hat, and gloves. If it’s raining, grab your umbrella and boots. If it’s really hot, put on a visor and take a bottle of ice water. You can do it! You won’t die! You’ll get your blood flowing, you’ll burn some calories, and you’ll be more focused when you get back inside. It took some cajoling to get myself into this habit when I was in bigger cities, but it makes a huge difference to how you feel afterwards.

 

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{Cut The Excess Crap} 

There’s so much crap in our day that does NOT have to be there. I used to start my day by deleting 20-30 emails every morning – newsletters I didn’t sign up for, coupons, promotional ads, etc. I spent every day doing this. One morning, I finally took 10 minutes and unsubscribed from all of those lists I was on. It took a few minutes, but now they’re gone. That’s one example, but there’s so much we deal with every day that we DON’T HAVE TO if we would just address it.

Do your kids need to play 4 different sports year-round or are they ok with one at a time so you can all be home at night eating dinner together more often? Do you need to keep up with 6 different tv shows every week or could you pick your two favorites and have more time to get to sleep earlier? Could you teach your older kid how to load the dishwasher after dinner or how to separate laundry? Chances are, if your kid knows how to handle your tablet or computer, they can make their own bed. The point is, you could be doing less “crap” and more sleeping, cooking, or moving.

Moral of the Story: Get back to the basics

Get sleep. Eat real food. Go outside. You know, things that people did 100 years ago when there weren’t t.v. shows and drive thru’s and social media. Instead of wandering what you need to add to your life, like spa days and meditation and life coaches, think about what you could cut out in order to focus on the basics. You don’t have to do all of those things at once, but the more you make them a priority, the easier they will become and the better you will feel, mentally and physically… maybe even emotionally.

How: Focus on ONE thing this week. Just the sleep part, or the going outside part. Could you follow through with it 3 times this week? And what about next week?

What do you guys do for basic self care?

How do you make it happen?

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Comments

  1. Loved this!!!!

  2. Joll says:

    Well written!!

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