For my 18th Business Birthday (9th September), I’m amusing myself by NOT looking at previous years’ roundups so I can later see if there are overlaps as I ponder the self care practices I rely on most at the moment. What’s YOUR go to?
1) Soothing self talk is the most transformative practice I’ve integrated over the decades. The harsh tones and words that were my default kept the amygdala in a high state of alert, reducing overall resourcefulness as well as feeling hideous to endure most of my waking hours. It’s STILL very much a practice (Cat Coaching helps) ~ when we manage to use a gentle tone of voice in our own heads, it changes EVERYTHING. How might you make your self talk kinder? Any cats / dogs / lizards / babies etc that might help you stay on track?
2) Journalling makes me laugh because it makes me feel like SUCH a teenager but writing is how I process life. I’m lucky enough to write daily and make part of my living from writing but journalling is utter indulgence. Letting it all out. I destroyed an entire black bin bag of journals in my 20s. As I’ve made peace with my whole self, I sometimes imagine 90plus Year Old Me having a gentle chuckle re-reading 46 Year Old Me’s musings. Many of the blogs have journal prompts if you’d like to see what resonates for you.
3) Getting organised is something I’ve always enjoyed and worked towards as others may plan their arrival at the summit of Mount Everest. In my imagination, there will be a moment in one day when my brain and life and EVERYTHING is completely organised in a sustainable, manageable way. I realise that this moment is unlikely to come while I’m alive because life is MESSY. And that’s OK. But making time and space to do the grounding, boring, basic self care things like my weekly Index Card Audit, staying on top(ish) of household chores, the gardening etc helps me feel like a Proper Grown Up. You can READ MORE HERE
4) Mindfulness is something I don’t understand how I managed without for the early part of my life. That simple compassionate curiosity instead of the old default self-loathing and blame has been life changing (with ongoing daily practices). Research shows it not only helps us regulate (aka feel better) in the moment but, with time and practice, rewires the brain and makes us happier as well as better at making decisions, more resourceful and calmer. There are lots of practices you can play with throughout the site
5) Sleep is something I used to struggle with from primary school until my 20s. It became one of my specialisms because I remember the angst I felt each night calculating exactly how exhausted I’d be the next day. Now I love my sleep. Many daily practices help and, when I struggle, I simply start a Yoga Nidra with the intention of using it to help me sleep. You can access some free ones here Although, ideal world, we harness that state between sleep and wakefulness in order to get the full benefits, it offers a wonderful rest for the mind and…
6) Movement is essential not just for helping with trauma recovery, anxiety and stress. Use your cat / dog / baby / a local squirrel for inspiration. All creatures move when our bodies signal a need to stretch, drink water, pee etc etc but we humans have often been socialised out of our body’s basic wisdom by early childhood having sat in classrooms. Now we know that sitting is the new smoking, it’s more important than ever to LISTEN to the body’s wisdom and keep getting up to move, stretch, dance or do whatever feels good in the moment.
7) My morning yoga practice (which obviously includes Pranayama breath practices) is essential for me but your morning practice might be different. Not everyone adores yoga! This morning (at time of drafting – Bad Pain Day), I fell out of Tree pose and curled up instead of even the gentlest Cat / Cow. Other mornings, my practice is way more dynamic and ‘successful’ and yet this morning’s told me – clearly – that today would need to be a very gentle, easy day. What kind of movement helps you be more mindful of how you’re actually doing on any given day?
8) Dance it out or stomp it out. Listen to angry, energetic, joyful or any other kind of music and imagine you’re invisible. Rainbow MagnifiCat no longer runs away from me as I ‘dance’ around the house (she even lets me carry her and we ‘dance’ together. She’s a very tolerant creature, sometimes). You can go with your own mood or follow a more formal practice like Five Rythmns but let the music help you heal.
9) Pay attention to your body’s signals. Pain, hunger, thirst, tiredness, the need for a hug etc etc are NOT your body’s ways of trying to distract you and knock you off course. Your body is the only body you’ll ever have. I still sometimes argue with reality (this morning, at time of drafting, in pain and ANNOYED at the ongoing health issue) before remembering that there’s no point AND there’s wisdom in even the most annoying seeming symptoms when we learn to listen. Sometimes, the answers are swift and clear. Other times, we need to listen for longer (AND involve medical professionals as appropriate). But your body knows how to heal itself and as you get better at listening and eating / resting etc etc appropriately, you’ll be astounded by how much better you feel.
10) Metta is something I keep going on about but it’s changed my life so deeply. I’ve gone from someone who would routinely weep (proper full on snot monster sobbing) over the news and all sorts of things, feeling helpless and hopeless about the state of the world to someone who catches those feelings far more quickly, grounds and sends Metta (Loving Kindness) to all involved.
11) Do what feels good. One of the things about Self care and self-care is that it varies. Most days, my walk is an effortless, joyful (whatever the weather) 5km stroll, stopping to take pics of puddles, donkeys etc etc (see more on my Insta etc) Today, I turned back far earlier and where Younger Me would have berated myself, I was grateful for the lessons learned about honouring what feels good as much of the time as possible.
12) Spend time with the people you love Pre lockdowns, I’d have considered myself more introverted than ambivert but now, I realise HOW much I adore so many of my fellow humans. Making time and space for friends, family and other loved ones is enriching, relaxing and essential for our wellbeing. As with everything else, trust your own nervous system rather than telling yourself stories about how you should feel around certain people. Go with what feels good and give the company that doesn’t feel good a wider berth.
13) Spend time doing what you love, where you love etc. Those places – those ventral vagal anchors – and activities that make your heart sing are GOOD for you. We ALL have to adult a lot of the time, doing all sorts of things that don’t spark joy. And that’s fine. Responsibilities and duty can be beneficial. But by knowing what DOES feel good and spending as much time as possible honouring that – letting yourself sing or swim or whatever – you’ll be SO much happier.
14) Oracle cards help me pause, ground and open up to that higher wisdom that’s always available to us. I start most mornings with a simple Angel Card then, throughout the day if a lot is going on, they and other cards can help me get a sense of whether whatever reading resonates or not. It can help me get clearer about how I’m feeling. And I end most days with a longer reading from whichever deck feels good that evening. You can access free readings that coincide with the lunar phases on my TikTok and other social media
15) Get out into nature. It might be a walk, bike ride, swim, sitting outside in the garden, doing some gardening or something else but give yourself the gift of time to connect with the wondrous world we live in. Yes, we’re living in turbulent times but when you’re in the sea or hugging a tree or looking up at a mountain, it’s easier to expand our awareness to the bigger picture that we obviously don’t KNOW but can take comfort in feeling as we imagine all the tree / sea / mountain etc has witnessed.
16) Notice how you’re looking at whatever it is you’re looking at and soften your gaze Imagine you’re looking at a beloved baby / cat / puppy / lizard etc. Better yet, spend some time communing WITH your cat / baby etc etc. Look into their eyes. Feel the love (from you, tolerance back from your cat etc etc) and connection. Perhaps you feel connected to plants. Give yourself some space to really notice and connect with one. The microcosm and the macrocosm. Allow your highest, wisest, truest, most miraculous self to guide your next best step.
17) Curate where your attention goes. Use all your senses in ways that feel friendly to your soul. Watch / read / listen to etc etc what feels loving and expansive instead of unconsciously feeling stuck and hopeless. Whatever your spiritual or religious practices, maybe have playlists / audio books or print books etc that help you start and end each day by making space for what soothes your soul and helps you feel that connection to all you share the planet with.
18) For the past several years, I’ve started each day by surrendering to God/dess / Nature / Divine Love / Source / the Universe or whatever you want to call the energy that knows how to support the acorn becoming the oak tree while all the other things become the thing THEIR seed and essence knows to grow into. I got a tattoo to REMIND me to do more of this throughout each day when I turned 34 and, of course, I still often forget but anytime I struggle with ANYthing, simply grounding and tuning into that sense of connection with all that is, being open to the best outcome for all concerned, trusting and surrendering, helps me untangle my own mind, body, heart and soul and simply exhale…
You’ll find these and many (many) more in the book, 365 Ways to Feel Better: Self-care Ideas for Embodied Wellbeing (White Owl, 2017) but you don’t need me or anyone else to tell you what will help YOU feel better.
You know yourself best.
Simply create some time and space throughout YOUR day to check in with your own mind, body, heart and soul.
Sometimes self care is about managing the bare minimum and that’s enough. Other times, these practices can help us do so much more than simply stay alive. We can flourish and thrive.
Which self care practices help YOU flourish / stay alive each day?
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