It’s funny how people, in our quest to improve, and care for our quality of life, have taken for granted life itself, yeah?
Society made us think a good life means a fine house, a nice car, the ability to travel abroad, and fancy personal stuff. And so we chase good-paying jobs. Make-do with working 60 hours a week, answering emails first thing in the morning, sometimes even skipping breakfast. You’re busy reaching your goals, I get that! But wait, isn’t your ultimate goal living a good life? So I guess, zero in on that question first.
When we start with the thinking that the road to a full and well-lived life for yourself and for the people you love should always be back-breakingly hard, then taking care of yourself along the way would really seem inexcusable, unaffordable luxury, and even selfish. But you don’t realize that if you don’t, it won’t be long before you’re battered from exhaustion and operating in a brain fog where it’s hard to care about anything or anyone anymore.
Self-care is an actionable expression of self-love. Taking care of oneself is a duty but one that usually gives you a feeling of enjoyment. ALWAYS CHOOSE THE BEST FEELING PATH. And as I’ve mentioned in my previous blog, self-care isn’t just about a one-time trip to the massage therapist or vacation—like another chore to tick off from your list. Rather, it must consistently build on small habits and steps to create a sturdier, happier version of yourself.
Remember, start small. But start decisively.
So here’s a guide for a 7-Day Self-Care Challenge that I urge you to embark on:
- Find what makes you feel centered.
Close your eyes and imagine all the things that bring you joy, comfort, and spark. Write them down. List down as many things as you can think of, whether it’s the soft, silky texture, the color turquoise, feeling of a back rub, blooming flowers, a fruit shake, or certain smells.
- Brainstorm how you can incorporate those things into your daily life.
Self-care practices can be done in the background (such as splurging in that scent of essential oil that you like) or could take up a more prominent space in your daily routine (like trying out my winter yoga flow). Starting small will make the habit easier to get into.
If you haven’t established a routine, better to draw one for yourself (read more about this in my previous blog). Routines are a great deal of help in making sure you are able to watch out for your own wellbeing. Pick a small habit/practice to add to your morning and evening routines. Add in a new one every day or every other day. Then pick two bigger habits to add for the following week.
- Feel what you’re feeling. Write down what you feel after adding each new stuff to your routine. Small notes will do. Ask yourself, does my body feel better? Am I able to forget my pending job tasks for at least 15 minutes? Did I find myself smiling after doing something for myself today?
- After seven days, evaluate. At the end of the week, reflect on how you’re feeling and note any positive benefits.
- Adjust and tweak your Self-Care Routine as you go.
Do more of those that make you feel good, rejuvenated, and peaceful. Don’t give up at once those that feel a bit off. Try again. If it doesn’t really work out, tweak it a bit. There’s no one-size-fits-all formula here. And a habit that makes you feel good now may not make you feel the same at another time.
You can add the following nuggets of self-care ideas to your routine—
DAY 1 — Small: Take a 10-minute walk outside every after an hour or two in front of the computer. Omit caffeine from your afternoon snack.
DAY 2 — Big: Try a 15-minute sun salutation flow in the morning. Small: Make one small change to your diet for the week (add one more green or fruit to your plate). Spruce your bedroom with mint and lavender scents (or anything that soothes you).
DAY 3 — Small: This time, when you take a walk outside, sit on the grass and go cloud-watching for a couple of minutes. Punctuate your day with a mini-meditation or a gratitude minute.
DAY 4 — Big: Edit your social media feeds, and ‘mute’ negative people. Small: Put your gadgets somewhere you are not able to reach when you’re lying in bed. Make a small connection—say hi or ask your neighbor or the grocery cashier how they are.
DAY 5 — Small: Lie in bed 30 minutes earlier than your usual sleeping time. Read a book to your toddler (or a couple of pages to yourself with a scent on and be surprised to find yourself dozing off!).
DAY 6 — Small: Activate your self-soothing system (stroke your own arm or comb your hair longer than usual). Replace a portion of your carbs with more vegetables or fruits
DAY 7 — Big: Extend your Sun Salutations to a 30-minute flow. Take a home spa—have a long bath or shower, sit around in your bathrobe, and read something. Small: Call a friend or loved one and tell how your week has been.
You can try these in a cumulative manner and you’ll be surprised to realize that self-care doesn’t have to be a burden. It should actually make you feel that ‘it’s the most natural thing to do’!
Soon enough, your well-being becomes reintegrated into your ‘living’. Self-caring becomes part of YOU. Because more self-care equals more self-awareness, which equals more self-love. And this love will ripple out onto others you interact with every day in the form of compassion, gratitude, and deeper kindness.