Especially when you have no idea where to start.
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Everyone Says To Practice Self-Care, but I Have No Idea Where To Start
I was working with a group last week, when a woman asked, “How do I practice self-care? I have no idea where to start.” She said she had taken care of everyone but herself for so long, she had no clue what she even liked to do anymore.
This is really common for people-pleasers, and co-dependents. We make everyone else a priority, until one day, our health is deteriorating, and our life is in shambles. We know big changes are necessary, but that seems like a daunting task. Do we start with our health? Do we start with our mental health? Our spirituality? Our looks? Our emotional health?
There’s really a simple way to start a self-care routine you can stick to.
Take Baby Steps
Change is overwhelming, particularly if all areas of your life seem to be falling apart. Most of us are impatient, too. We want it fixed now! “Somebody just tell me what to do, and I’ll do it!”
But, usually, long-lasting change doesn’t happen at one time. It happens little by little, piece by piece. Too many changes at once can make you frustrated, and cause you to give up, reverting back to old habits. Mini habit changes are easier to digest.
I told my group member to start with baby steps. Here are a few to try. Pick one of these, (or something else), and then add another step later, when the first one feels easy.
- Take a 10 – 20 minute walk outdoors – Studies show that when participants spent time in nature for just 120 minutes a week, their mood improved, they had lower probability of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, asthma complications, anxiety, and death. You can start small and work your way up to daily walks of 20 minutes or more.
- Write in a journal – Journaling can improve mental health and overall wellbeing. Dr. John Sarno’s work on healing pain, suggests that journaling can help improve physical health, too.
- Meditate – The practice of sitting in silence for 10-20 minutes a day can quiet your mind and help you listen to your own intuition. I like guided meditations, where someone guides you through a calming practice, but some people prefer complete silence, and still others enjoy listening to music, or binaural beats. The Insight Timer app is free, and has thousands of meditations to choose from.
- Exercise – I used to hate this suggestion. I thought of it as going to a gym, or running for miles. Luckily, I found exercise that I like. I found yoga videos on YouTube that I love to do, and they make me feel calm and focused. My flexibility and strength have improved as well. You can try dance classes, Zumba, Pilates, strength training, or whatever you enjoy most.
- Learn something new – I love to learn! Maybe that’s why I enjoy teaching others so much, but learning new things fills me with excitement and anticipation. There are so many local and online courses you can try. Many of them are free or low cost. Do you want to learn to knit, build a piece of furniture, write a book, paint with watercolors, garden, or scuba dive? The list is endless! Research what you want to learn first on sites like Coursera, Udemi, or YouTube. Pinterest, and other social media sites, can give you great inspiration.
- Find a community of like-minded people – This can go along with whatever new thing you choose to learn. There is usually a community of people that love to learn about that thing too. Or, you can find a community group, religious group, spiritual group, volunteer group, or 12-step type group. Having people around you that support you and have common interests can help you feel connected enough to break out of an emotional rut.
- Work on a health goal – Want to eat healthier? Add one vegetable to every meal. Then, when that is easier, add two vegetables, or cut out artificial ingredients. Do you want to feel more energy? Start with sleeping at least 7 hours a night.
- Fill your mind with inspiration – Read inspirational books, listen to inspiring podcasts, or YouTube videos. Limit your time watching the news stations, and fear inducing social media.
Follow These 3 Steps To Begin Your Self-Care Routine
1, Pick one thing you want to try that is a habit to improve your physical, mental or emotional health.
2. Practice it until it feels easy. You may have a few starts and stops. That’s okay, just keep going. (I gave up on my morning yoga for two months before picking it back up.)
3. Add a new habit once the first one feels easy.
Now, You’re Doing Self-Care!
See! The things I listed above can be easy and fun! You don’t have to do them all, but over time, it will be more and more enticing to add another self-care habit to your daily routine. As you begin to feel better, you won’t want to stop. Your friends and family will begin to notice a difference in your mood. You will be a role model for others. I noticed a big difference in my own family, especially my children. When your 15-year-old wants to meditate and journal, instead of scrolling social media, I call that a win!
Do you need encouragement and accountability? I have some resources here, that may help.
What’s your favorite self-care idea? Comment below.
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