One of the most common terms thrown around anymore is self-care. For years, running around with four kids and a job, I laughed when someone asked me what I’d done for myself that day. The idea of easy self-care was foreign. I love being mom, and it’s the best thing ever, but for years, the idea of stealing away time for myself was laughable. Caring for kids was a full-time job on its own, and add in a 40-hour work week and the best self-care I could do was to sleep a few hours. Daytime self-care? Ha.
Fast-forward all these years later and I’m finally getting the hang of it. The guilt of my kids watching TV while I indulge in something cool is long gone. All four are now young adults, and even with some still living at home, my time is a lot more my own. Still, life’s busy. I’m a business owner, I run this blog and I have an active family and social life. Fitting in easy self-care is critical or I just won’t get it done, though now it’s for different reasons.
So how do we do it? We make it harder than it has to be. Self-care doesn’t need to be expensive manicures or massage appointments or getting our hair done. It can be simple things we do at home, basic things that don’t cost a lot but that relax us, that allow us to enjoy something just for ourselves, and that can happen anywhere we want it to.
Ideas for Easy Self-Care
Reclining meditation: kill two birds with one stone in this fun approach to relaxation and stress relief! I purchased an acupuncture mat and started a new habit. I have lower back pain from an old injury and some days, it gets pretty painful. Practicing meditation while laying down allows me to not only get the benefits of meditation (stress relief, decrease in anxiety, improved memory, self-awareness, lower blood pressure and more) but I can stretch out my back and get in a good rest.
How do I do it? Lay out the acupressure mat, set an alarm on my phone for 10-15 minutes, and lay down. Tell the Amazon Alexa (or Google) to play meditation music. (Alternatively, play it on your phone or whatever other device is handy.) Close my eyes, regulate my breathing and do my best to relax. Long, deep breaths in and out. After one or two minutes, check your body from head to toe for tension; relax each section or limb intentionally. You’ll be surprised at how much tension you hold in your ankles! Your feet don’t need to be straight up and down, but can flop to the side. That little change is HUGE.
Once your breathing is rhythmic and natural, and you’re consciously paying attention to your tension level, clear your mind. Focus on the music, which shouldn’t be too loud but at a volume that covers anything distracting (like the traffic outside my window). Feel it and enjoy it. Let that take over and remove thoughts of what you’ll cook for dinner or that bill you need to pay.
At first, the idea of doing this for 10 or 15 minutes sounds like a lot, but I guarantee you, if you really focus on your breath and staying relaxed, clearing your mind becomes easier and when that alarm goes off, you’ll be nearly asleep….if not already snoring. Each day, I start this process thinking about things I should be doing and how it may drag out, yet when the timer goes off at 15 minutes, I’m bummed. Get up? Now? Can I extend it even longer?
Available on Amazon for only $20 via my affiliate link, this mat is similar to mine, and it even comes with a neck pillow. There are others you can look at, too, as they do get more expensive and offer other colors.
When I get up, my back pain has decreased. My emotions are even-keeled, and I am just generally more at peace….and 15 minutes of easy self-care is complete!
Make a fancy coffee or tea: I’m a huge coffee person, so I spent $12 on a small battery-operated frother. I make some coffee in my French press (or pour-over coffee maker), froth up a couple of tablespoons of cold half-and-half and pour over the top. Just the process of making the coffee is soothing and peaceful. Enjoy it while it’s hot and drink in a place without distractions. Smell it, taste it, make it worth it!
Cut out a snowflake: this sounds horribly silly and cheesy, but trust me, it’s wonderful. Grab a piece of tissue paper, fold it into a square, and continue to fold until you have the foundation for a snowflake. Grab those scissors and get creative. No rush, because no matter how detailed you, you can only do so much with that amount of paper, so you’re unlikely to go beyond five minutes. Unfold when you’re done, and enjoy the beauty of the simplicity of a child’s craft. (And if it’s during winter, bonus points for hanging it up as decor!)
Give yourself a facial massage: there are so many tools available now for this, and even if you’re really young, it’s never too early to practice good skin care. I bought one of those vibrating marble wands that supposedly helps rejuvenate my skin, helps with elasticity and relieves puffiness. Some people keep them refrigerated for extra punch. This may only take a few minutes, but the focus of doing it properly helps remove the stress and distractions around you, while helping improve your skin. And the tool itself — Gua Sha, roller, whatever — doesn’t need to cost a lot! (You can order on Amazon, buy at Marshall’s, Target, or any high-end skin care company. The choices are way too many to list!)
Get spiritual: whether you read the bible, a devotional, a book of poetry that makes you think…grab it, set a timer and enjoy. Whatever makes you feel inspired, motivated, or encouraged, go for it. There’s no right or wrong in your choice, if it helps you to feel relaxed and it’s something you normally don’t do. (Self-care isn’t just about doing things you normally don’t do, but doing them with purpose. Grabbing a book to read is normal; grabbing a book to read to relax yourself and put a smile on your face is a different thing altogether.)
There are so many more ways for easy self-care, so think outside of the box. Just don’t let the whole planning of it stress you out. Self-care should become a routine part of your day, just like showering. It doesn’t need to be long to be effective. It can be a few yoga stretches done while the kids are watching a movie. Even with little ones running around or a boss looking over your shoulder, there are ways to make it about just you for at least 30 minutes a day in some regard, whether it’s day or night. It may be more challenging if you’re trying to do this around a work schedule, but don’t forget your break or lunch times. Self-care on a break helps make it easier to get through the rest of the day, and that’s important.
We all need self-care. It’s not just a woman thing. Men watch TV, take a nap, play a video game. Leave the guilt behind because we’re all humans first, and mothers and everything else next.