Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive. As a matter of fact, it shouldn’t be! Self-care should be part of your life and feel as natural as brushing your teeth or taking shower.
First of all, may I take just a moment to start this post off with a positive, healing and loving intention for you to benefit in some way.
Below you will find some easy and inexpensive ways you can start de-stressing today.
Being in nature lowers blood pressure and releases good hormones. Environments are either healing or hindering us. Think about a stressful behind-the-scenes restaurant business or hectic office. Now imagine a calm walk through a park or even just taking your shoes off and sitting on your deck with a glass of iced tea. What a difference scenery can make. Make it a practice to get outside every single day even if it’s only for 15 minutes. Have your morning coffee or lunch break outside. Even being in your car in the parking lot with the windows down is better than being indoors all day. We are animals but tend to forget that. As animals, we are part of nature. Nature is calling us all the time though most of us choose to ignore that silent call.
This is so simple yet easily forgotten when you’re having a hectic day. There’s a yoga quote that goes something like, “the day you don’t have time for yoga is the day you need yoga the most.” Same goes for checking in with yourself. Whenever you’re feeling frazzled, angry, overwhelmed, stressed, depressed or basically like your life is going up in flames then STOP, DROP and ROLL. What I mean by that is: take a break from what you’re doing, be aware of any negative feelings then drop them (let them go) and learn to roll with whatever life is presenting you in that moment. Seriously, this is life changing. If you do none of the other 12 things please give this one a try.
If you’ve never meditated I know it can seem like “another thing I don’t have time to do” or non-beneficial or maybe even too difficult. I thought all of those things too…until I tried it. My advice is to just try meditating for one minute at a time. If you are a worrier, like I am, that may be difficult at first. It may SEEM difficult to stop your mind from spinning, especially when something stressful is happening or at night when all you have is time to think, but believe me, it gets easier and easier and is worth not giving up on. I’ve gone from not being able to meditate for more than one minute to going for hours (that fly by) sitting absolutely still in mediation. Meditation has taken me to a journey within that has been very healing. I have even had those super deep meditations that you’ve probably heard about where you aren’t even aware of your body and some where I have been floating out of my body.
With meditation, what happens is that your practice not only gives your mind downtime during the mediation but the peaceful feeling you get while meditating flows into your life. You just have to experience it to really understand it. It may take time to get from feeling like it’s not helping to feeling like it’s really helping so be patient. I had to learn to not expect anything (or unlearn expecting something is probably more accurate) and just allow my thoughts to come and go without attaching myself to them. It’s called a practice for a reason. You’ll get better and better with time. There’s no rush either. There should be no end goal like the deep meditation I spoke of. That was just an example of what anyone can do. Just think of it as time to “be.”
Do not underestimate the power of human touch, even your own! Give yourself a massage on the temples, back of your neck, upper arms, face, scalp, lower back or anywhere you hold tension. Don’t forget your hands, feet and ears. They have all kinds of pressure points that will relieve physical symptoms. I use simple olive oil in a roller ball that I repurposed when an essential oil ran out. I particularly wanted to keep it because it has a metal ball. Those are MUCH smoother than the plastic ones. Having oil really makes the massage a gazillion times better.
As a matter of fact, I just took a break and did my husband’s and my temples just now. I have one on each bedside table, one in my purse and one in my nursing/work bag. If you choose to use essential oils for extra healing benefits you can try some of the combos below under “resources.” It’s super easy to find essential oil “recipes” online with a quick google search. I use whatever smells good to me. When I’m at work, I make sure whatever I use is safe for babies even though I’m not putting it directly on them. Please know that some essential oils are not safe for animals and babies and do some research if you have either (especially if using in a diffuser).
There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying no when needed. You are one person. You have limits. You need to know your limits and decline kind offers to pick up more hours or take on any more work than is necessary. You know when you’re being dumped on. If you say yes to everything you’ll end up being the “go-to” person for everything for everybody which is unfair to you. You can also say no to parties, out-of-town guests staying over, doing favors for anyone, etc. You get the idea. A pro tip here is to say no with confidence and grace. Try saying something like, “I wish I had the time but there is no way I’ll be able to take on that task right now” or “Thank you for thinking of me. I would love to but already have plans.” Other ideas are, “If I had the time I would, but my priority right now/today is (fill in the blank)” or “Due to other obligations I’m just unable to work extra at this time. I hope you find someone.” Keep it short and simple. If you’re ever pushed against the wall from someone at work to give a reason, you can always say you have already made personal plans. That is all they need to know.
Is there something you can delegate to others? By delegate I don’t mean boss them around (even though I did use a “like a boss” mug in my image. Lol) I just mean share the tasks more equally. It’s a great idea to let go of control over things and allow people to help you. Are there some household tasks other members of the household can do to make the work load more equal? I have to admit that many years ago I would fuss over the way my husband did the laundry. He didn’t use the same amount of fabric softener. He didn’t fold the way I folded. But I quickly realized it was such a relief to not have to do the laundry all the time. Having clean, folded clothes in my dresser is such a joy. I am so appreciative that it’s something we can both do now.
At work, are there tasks that another member of the team can take on? You do kind of have to take a little control here to be able to delegate. Just do it with compassion and honesty. If you’re plate is too full and need help, it is fine to share the load (or share the love as I like to say!)
Again, so simple yet so profound. When you approach everything with loving kindness you can totally de-stress and de-escalate ANY situation. Allowing situations and people to “just be” is a beautiful practice. Love yourself too. You know how when you think of your past problems in retrospect you can always find a lesson learned? Well, even though it can be difficult to see the lesson as you’re going through it, just know there will be one. Think of every situation presented to you as being for your highest good no matter how difficult it may seem. Because it will be. Nothing is really as random as it seems. You’re learning every day from the problems you’re presented with. Try to think of solutions to problems and handle them with maturity and grace. We need those problems (or challenges) to learn just like we do on a test in school. Life would be easy if we had all the answers but it would also be boring and pointless. Just TRUST that the universe or God or whatever you believe in, has your back. Even if that something you believe in is simply yourself. Have you’re own back! You are a powerful being and enough! Just do everything with loving kindness, especially when stressed, and watch how the situation somehow seems to magically transform into one that’s more tolerable. When you can be calm and loving during challenging situations, you know you are maturing mentally and spiritually.
This can be real or imagined. I have a few happy places. One is in my car. I used to be a case manager for home health hospice. For years I spent a lot of time in my car going from patient to patient. Somehow I learned to use that time to unwind and do some deep thinking. I also pulled over to eat in my car, make phone calls, do my charting and just rest. I don’t want to say it was like my office because it wasn’t just for work. I felt like it was a little room almost. I found safety there and still do. I had all the comforts I needed plus snacks! Perfect for unwinding and meditating actually.
My bed is another happy place. I have a lot of self-care necessities near me like essential oils, a little wooden shoulder massager, a scalp massager, back scratcher, journal and pens, coloring pages and colored pencils, etc. I have good sheets (percale are the best if you like the crisp kind like hotels use) and pillows. There’s a window right next to my bed. If it’s nice out and I have the window open it almost feels like I’m on a porch listening to birds and feeling the breeze. Very relaxing and not just for sleeping. It’s a great place for me to prop up on my many pillows into a comfy reclining position to read or meditate as well.
One of my imaginary places is a place outdoors with grass-covered rolling hills. Sometimes I imagine flowers growing on them too. There’s a woods with a creek and a cabin as well. I imagine every detail. In the imagined summer I lay on the hill and watch the clouds go by as I feel the sun on my face. Sometimes I explore the woods and find all kinds of treasures. Once I imagined finding a chalice filled with a sparkling liquid light that contained everything I needed to be whole, healed and well. When you do mental imagery, try to make it is detailed as possible. In my imagined winter I feel the texture and warmth of a blanket wrapped around me, smell the burning wood in the fireplace, hear the fire crackling as the wind howls outside in the snow, taste the hot chocolate I’m holding in a warm mug and see everything around me in great detail. It makes the experience much more calming.
Your happy place is yours alone and the imaginary ones are always with you. That’s all you have to do is tune out the world for a few moments to get there.
This is a great form of meditation if you don’t meditate the traditional way. It’s very calming. Know that in your happy place there is no stress or bad things happening. This is your time. It is just for you to relax for a few moments (or as long as you want) to just let everything go and completely unwind. You can let those tense muscles just melt and relax. No one needs anything from you during this time. It is a way to mentally and physically recharge and “get away” from a stressful situation.
We all hear that we need to unplug but how many of us really do? If you’re like me your phone has become an extension of your body. Think about the panic you feel when you think you’ve lost it. It’s insane how attached to our phones and all electronics we’ve become. No wonder our minds are can’t relax. Especially at night, it is important to turn off the phone. If you need to use the phone in the evening try using the sleep mode feature on iPhones or some blue light eliminating glasses for Android so your body’s circadian rhythm isn’t thrown off. If we look at the harsh light of screens, our brains think it is daylight and it’s harder to fall asleep. Plus, just being attached to electronics all the time fills our brains with a boatload of information it needs to process quickly. I’m not saying technology is bad. I love it. I love to learn so always having Google at my fingertips is wonderful. However, we all have to learn to have balance. It is affecting us negatively in so many ways we don’t even think about. I try to ignore my phone at different times throughout the day when I can and at least an hour before sleep.
Don’t spend many hours at a time on your phone or commuter without taking breaks. This post is taking me weeks to complete simply because I just keep coming back to it one section at a time. That way, when I do, I can fully put my energy into what I want to put out into the world and not feel like there’s a deadline to fill. My blog is relaxing to me. It’s not my full time job so why make it feel like work? For me, every post is like journaling. All the love is put into it. It is fun yet calming, a way for me to create and actually unwind.
Anything can be like that for you, even your work if you change your perspective. Take your time in everything to do. Rushing is stressful. Change your vocabulary from something being a challenge to it being an adventure. Even really difficult times can become adventures when you seek the learning opportunities in them. “What is this situation trying to teach me?” is a question I often ask myself. I’m not saying to not acknowledge your feelings and be “fake” happy all the time because emotions are important, but it is also important to not get trapped in any one emotion. I’m getting off track here!
Slow, deep breaths cure a lot of stress. Breathing this way is a signal to your body to relax and release tension. It’s a signal to your mind to pause. Just take a few slow deep breaths consciously throughout the day whether you think you need to or not (because you always need to). Even if you don’t feel you can do a “meditation” you can always have time anywhere you are on Earth to inhale loving, healing light and exhale tension and negativity. Try it right now.
Exhale tension and worry…..
Inhale universal healing energy…..
Exhale all dis-ease…..
Exhale all forms of disharmony…..
Ahhhhh, doesn’t that feel better?
Well, there you have it! I hope these tips have been helpful.
No matter what you’re going through, know that trials are a natural part of this life. Nothing lasts forever. There are lessons in all challenges. Remember that you have the strength and power to get through it. I hope you feel the warm embrace of this post. You are not alone.
May you be happy and well.
Resources and additional photos:
Read more about the health benefits of getting into nature here.
Try some of these guided meditations:
Google search for “essential oil recipes” for tons more!