Self

25 Tiny Tips For Practicing Radical Self-Care

Photo: PeopleImages, Gajus | Canva 
Woman on paddle board, taking care of her mind body soul

When was the last time you did something delicious for yourself and didn't feel an ounce of guilt? Hopefully, it was recently, but the sad truth is that many of us are socialized to take care of everyone else first – and we’re called "selfish" if we object.

If we don’t place ourselves at the center of our lives, we become increasingly scattered, ungrounded, and miserable. If we don't create space for our self-care, we won't be whole enough to take care of all those we love or who depend on us.

If our inner core, our “Circle of One,” is weak, we can’t support our families, communities, and ultimately our larger visions for the world in the most empowered way possible.

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Here are 25 tips for practicing radical self-care.

1. Read stimulating books

Read any good books lately? Your morning and evening commutes are a great time to stimulate your brain cells in different ways and learn more about topics that fascinate you… makes the time go faster, too!

2. Take a class

Check out your employer’s policy on tuition reimbursement. Whether it’s a weekend seminar on “effective communication” or an evening course at the local YMCA, you might be surprised at what’s covered in the name of “stress management” or career advancement.

3. Start journaling

Writing down your thoughts, dreams, and goals is the first step to getting them out of your head and into the world. Even if you don’t think there’s anything special up there, try spending 15 minutes each day for a week, writing whatever comes into your mind… no judgments or criticisms. It’ll be interesting to see what pops up.

4. List the little things

It’s amazing how so many seemingly little things can be big energy drains if not handled. Make a list of everything you’re tolerating or putting up with. Some may take money to fix, but many are little annoyances that want a little attention, like greasing the squeaky hinges on the front door or finally cleaning out the spilled potato chips in the car!

5. Map your mind

The next time you have to flush out a new project at work or home, you might try mind-mapping. It's like outlining an idea, only with circles, lines, and colors – a visual approach.

6. Play memory games

Keeping your memory sharp and your mind clear is critical to maintaining a healthy work-life balance, whether it’s about remembering your daughter’s baseball game, or your boss’ meeting schedule. Crossword puzzles, trivia games, or playing Brain Quest with a favorite kid are all fun ways to stimulate your “grey matter”.

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7. Avoid rushing

Combat chronic rushing! Resolve to leave 10 minutes earlier than usual to get to any appointment. Leave time to stroll or drive leisurely and notice the difference in your energy level when you arrive. Adrenaline is an energy drainer... creates a great "rush", but with a price.

8. Use mindful breathing

Remember to BREATHE! Make a point several times a day while you're sitting in traffic, on the subway, waiting for someone on the phone — to take five slow, deep breaths. If nothing else, you'll be re-oxygenating and re-activating your brain cells, ready to tackle the next project, challenge, or phone call.

9. Eat for energy

We all know the benefits of healthy eating, but unless we’re forced to change our habits for medical reasons, we don’t get to experience the very real change in energy level, focus, and well-being that results. Just pick one thing… cutting down on caffeine, switching to whole grains, eliminating sugar… and noticing how your body responds. Once you get past the initial detox stage, you might be surprised at how much better you feel.

10. Rest, relax, and sleep

There is no more powerful medicine than rest. When you sleep uninterrupted for 7-8 hours, your body's natural healing and rejuvenating abilities are free to work, resulting in better reaction time, memory, and productivity. Getting less than 6 hours triples your risk for a car accident… a pretty compelling reason to turn the light out earlier.

11. Get moving

You don’t have to be a marathon runner, swimmer, or cyclist to reap the benefits of exercise, nor do you have to become a gym rat. The simple act of walking is a low-impact cardio workout. Try walking to work or getting off the bus or subway a few stops early on the way home. Studies show that just 30 minutes of exercise can dramatically reduce the risk of heart disease and other illnesses and increase your life expectancy.

12. Drink more water

Some nutritionists say that 80% of the population is dehydrated… are you?? Water is necessary for your body to digest and absorb vitamins and nutrients. It also detoxifies the liver and kidneys and carries waste from the body. Caffeinated coffee, tea, and sodas all cause the body to lose water, which means your blood is thicker, your brain less active, and saps your energy. So replace that ever-present coffee cup with a bottle of water and enjoy the boost!

   

   

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13. Try some aromatherapy

The sense of smell is the most evocative of all our senses since it’s directly connected to the limbic system, the seat of all emotions and memory. Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center found that the scent of vanilla helped to calm patients before surgery. To destress your heart take a whiff of lavender, neroli, melissa, or ylang-ylang essential oils. Or to improve general heart circulation, try basil, rosemary, or thyme.

14. Exercise healthy boundaries

We all know what we should do to protect our time and space, both at home and at work — close our doors when we don't want to be interrupted, not pick up the phone, and say "no" to office gossip. Creating firmer, healthier boundaries means enjoying more supportive relationships and having more energy to do what you love. What boundaries do you need to re-establish with your family, friends, and co-workers regarding your time, energy, or personal space? Where would some well-placed "no's" make a big difference in your life?

15. Help others helps you

It does a heart good to reach out and help someone else, and it doesn’t have to cost a penny. There are activities to suit every interest - Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Literacy Volunteers (tutoring adults), and Christmas in April (building homes), to name a few. Find out what's available in your area by checking the Internet or asking a local priest or rabbi. Or, maybe your company maintains partnerships with some volunteer organizations.

16. Shift your focus

"Freeze Frame” is a powerful technique in stressful moments to shift focus away from your racing mind or disturbed emotions to the area around your heart. Pretend you're breathing through your heart to help focus your energy in this area. Recall a fun feeling or time you've had in life and ask your heart what would be a more efficient response to the situation, then listen to what it says.

17. Be grateful

Cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” can do wonders for lifting your spirits and soothing a troubled heart. Try writing down three things you’re grateful for at the beginning or end of each day. Better yet, make a point to regularly tell the people in your life – at home and work – something you appreciate about them and watch them light up. You’ll feel pretty good, too!

18 Play a little game

Pick at least one conversation each day where you commit to keeping the other person the center of attention – no offering advice, responding with a story of your own, or negating their experience (as in "Oh, it's not so bad"). Allow yourself to be with them. Appreciate the quality of quiet connection that occurs.

Photo: Stockfour via Shutterstock

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19. Schedule silence

Schedule at least 15 minutes of creative silence into your daily routine especially if you have a project to tackle or a problem to resolve. It may be hard to turn off the mind chatter, but gradually the still, small voice of inner wisdom will catch on that you've created a space for it to be heard, and you'll find your intuitive hits will begin to percolate up from the depths regularly.

20. Create sacred space

How excited are you to walk into your workspace each morning? Does it feel like a “sacred space”? If not, think of a few ways to en-soul it… maybe adding a water fountain or aromatherapy lamp, creating a mini-altar of meaningful objects, or hanging a special picture.

21. Breathe intentionally

If you're feeling frazzled in the middle of your day and your attention is scattered in all directions, take some time to re-gather your energy with some intentional breathing. On the inhale, breathe in those qualities you need most (joy, calm, focus, etc) and exhale what you want to release (impatience, anger, negative thinking, etc). Just 2 or 3 minutes will calm your soul.

22. Play for the sake of fun

We all need a regular dose of play to maintain optimal focus, balance, and creativity in our lives. When was the last time you see-sawed with a friend… or even a co-worker?! Yes, it is possible to swing very high with a suit jacket on or a skirt tucked under you. How about keeping some jacks or a Frisbee in your desk drawer, or a yo-yo, or one of those little paddles with a ball attached where you bat the ball as often as you whack your head?! This could be just the infusion of silliness you need when you’re having a rough day.

23. Make affirmations part of your routine

Try putting your dreams and wishes into words by writing short, specific phrases or affirmations, posting them where you'll always run into them, and speaking them out loud each day. It’s important to state them positively and in the present tense. Instead of "I want a job that doesn't drain me," try "I have wonderful, fulfilling work that nurtures and expands me mentally, emotionally, and financially." If you keep stating your desires as "I want," they'll always remain "wants" instead of "haves".

24. Hug a tree

Our connection to nature is a deep and visceral one – not for naught that she's referred to as "Mother". Whether you work in the middle of the city or a grassy suburban corporate complex, make sure you spend some time outdoors every day. Rather than eat lunch at your desk take your sandwich to an urban green space, or go for a walk through a nearby park. Fresh air and Vitamin D-laden sunlight have a healing and rejuvenating effect.

25. Utilize your commute time

It’s possible to bring a sense of spirit to your commute. Listen to sacred music on your headphones or car radio instead of the news. You can practice a powerful little grounding meditation standing on a bus or subway. Breathe into your solar plexus on the inhale, and as you exhale, imagine energy flowing down through your legs and deep into the Earth where you can "wrap" it around a hook. Then, on the next inhale, draw it back into your solar plexus, and anchor it. Try it 2 or 3 times, and by the time you get to work, you’ll be grounded, energized, and ready for action.

   

   

Everything becomes a little easier, less stressful, and maybe even more fun when we carve out time and space for ourselves amid the whirlwind of life. So, how do we start to create an ongoing self-care habit? One way is to break it into a four-sided model of mind, body, heart, and spirit. What can you do every day to support and nurture yourself in each area to stimulate your mind, nurture your body, honor your feelings and relationships, and reconnect with your spirit?

Creating an ongoing habit of nurturing your body, mind, heart, and spirit begins with intention. Add a little creativity, a pinch of moon magic, and some seasonal spice, and you will have the recipe for maintaining a well-nourished Circle of One. Now imagine what might happen if everyone you knew made that same commitment to reconnect with and re-energize their divinely connected self-centered. What an extraordinary power grid we could create.

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Deborah Roth is a Life and Career Transition Coach and Interfaith Minister who founded Spirited Living™ to help guide spirited women and men through life’s big changes with joy and ease.