The New Self Care: Small Daily Practice
Last week, a client asked what I do for myself when I have a “self-care day.”
I literally had to stop and think about how to answer the question! Mostly because, like many women, I don’t really ever have a full day for self-care.
Historically, we have thought of self-care as being synonymous with “pampering”; going to the spa, getting our nails done, or a day of shopping.
But as many people examine their life/work balance and make adjustments for mental health, the new definition of self-care has evolved. These days, it’s more about creating small habits that support the body, brain and spirit in a myriad of ways.
Of course, going to the spa still counts as self-care – who doesn’t love that?! It’s just not the only way to achieve life balance.
I answered her question by sharing that for me, self-care is woven into my day in many small ways. These moments feel like tiny gifts to myself, providing calming ways to stay balanced and grateful.
Here are the things that I Do for Small, Daily Self-Care
For me, introducing small self-care moments in my day is about creating habits to support myself that also resonate with my own personal value system. Here is what I do:
- Start each day with a prayer of gratitude to God.
- Exercise daily.
- Stop in the same spot at the beach at the beginning of every run – again to express my gratitude.
- Take an outdoor shower every day (makes me feel like I’m on vacation – I love the open air, the privacy and the water pressure).
- Bring a thermos of coffee to work every day and leave it in my car. When I’m done with my client I have my coffee on the way home. It’s my treat to myself (bc we all know how much I love coffee) after a day of doing what I love.
- End each day by reading my daily devotional then reading my current novel, and lastly sending my gratitude back to God in prayer as I fall asleep.
So How Can You Add “Small” Self Care Into Your Life?
Here are some ideas!
- Focus on ways to integrate a gratitude practice into your day. This might mean simply saying aloud what you feel grateful for, telling it to someone, writing in a journal, praying, etc.
- When you exercise, your body produces chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins promote a positive feeling in the brain. Moving your body (even just a little bit) can make the world of difference in shifting your mood.
- In her book Burnout, The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle, Dr. Emily Nagoski talks about closing the “stress cycle”. When we experience stress, the brain knows that the stressful event is over, but the body doesn’t! Stress can get stuck in the body and wreak havoc on our nervous system, moods and overall health. Actions like journaling, talking to a friend, meditating, exercising, laughing (yes, really!) or having a good cry are all ways to alert your body that you are safe and that it can stop producing cortisol. This is an especially important part of self-care: reminding ourselves that we are safe.
How to Integrate Small Self-Care Into Your Daily Life
To add your own self-care habits into your daily routine, I recommend writing a list of the things that would make you feel fulfilled and taken care of each day.
Once you have your list, pick ONE to focus on.
Now I want you to piggyback that new habit onto an already-existing one.
For example, you brush your teeth every day (well, hopefully anyway!). If your new habit is to say a gratitude aloud each day, put a Post-it note near your toothbrush, reminding you to think of the gratitude while you are brushing your teeth. Connecting the new habit to an already existing habit will help you keep on track.
Once you are doing it daily, introduce a new one from your list!
I’d love to hear how it goes. Happy self-care!