Six Strategies For Self Care That You Can Actually Keep
You’re a busy bee. You have a thousand things to do, with a million things overdue. I get that. But let’s take a step back and talk about you.
Self-care. The term gets thrown around a lot, but what does it mean?
Self-care means think of yourself first. I don’t mean this in a super selfish way (I actually do) but in the sense that you’re remembering to check in with your physical and mental states to make sure they’re doing alright.
It means taking time out of your busy schedule to do something good for yourself.
It’s that easy. And I have 6 self care strategies to make it even easier for every entrepreneur:
*Mario voice* Let’s a go!
Strategy 1: Breathing Exercises
Let’s start with an obvious one. Breathing is a human necessity, yet many people don’t know how to do it properly. We take shallow breaths, just enough to give our brain enough oxygen to function. But the trick to those breathing exercises you see everywhere is breathing through your diaphragm.
Yeah, it sounds weird. You breathe from your lungs, not your diaphragm.
When I say breathe from your diaphragm, I don’t mean it completely literally. The diaphragm is a muscle located at the base of your rib cage, and it’s what keeps your lungs inflating and deflating on cue. It doesn’t take in the air. But if used properly, it can help expand your lungs to take in more air.
When you breathe, focus on contracting and relaxing that muscle. Breathe in for 4 counts, hold it for 4 counts and breathe out for 4. Keep your focus on each section, keeping it as fluid as possible. It should flow together as one breath. Do this for about 3+ min, you’ll notice an immediate difference in stress levels.
Here’s a video to shows you how to breathe.
This is a common breathing technique for wind and brass musicians to increase their lung capacities, along with yoga as a calming technique. Deep breathing slows your heart rate, and is used to lessen anxiety.
Try this technique every morning to prepare you for your busy day, during the day to calm, or at the end of the night to help you go to sleep. It only takes 2 minutes out of your day, and you’ll be 5x more productive.
Strategy 2: Make Time For Meditation Or Yoga
- Another obvious one. This is to clear your mind when you have a lot on your plate.
Well, not only then.
Both of these activities are also meant to clear out the negative energy (stress) you have inside. You hold poses while you let your mind go blank, pushing all thoughts from your mind. Meditation is more passive, yoga allowing more movement as a distraction of sorts.
But they don’t have to be used as a last resort, when you’re already on the brink of a losing control. They can be used as a preemptive measure.
Make it part of your weekly or daily routine by doing some small stretches or meditating exercises in the morning before you go to work. Yoga classes are a great way to get some variety in your exercise, and push yourself past what you would normally do at home. Exercise in and of itself is essential, and fast paced yoga classes are a great way to get your cardio and strength training in for the week.
Meditation is great because you can do it anywhere. It doesn’t really require a lot of room, equipment, incense, any of that. All you need is to find an area to sit without disturbance and let your mind roam. You can find great playlists for meditation on music apps if that helps. Generally, in the morning or evening is the best to calm you down or help you focus, but many practice during the day when they feel their plate is filling up.
If you’re easing into it, try out a Yin Yoga class. It’s a slower pace, focusing on flexibility and breathing which is perfect for beginners. Plus, you can go around bragging about how good you feel after doing yoga. If you want to know more of the health benefits, Mike Tanner and Ross Simmonds each wrote great articles on what they learned from Yoga:
If you don’t have time for a class try this trick. Pour your morning cup of tea (or coffee) slowly, really focusing on the scent and heat of the water. This can be a quick meditation task that only takes a minute, but damn will that morning cup smell good.
Strategy 3: Drink Water & Watch Your Food
Water makes up over 75% of a person.
Yet we don’t drink nearly enough water. What’s up with that?
This is the one self-care method you cannot come up with an excuse for. Try to make up an excuse, I dare you. See? Nothing. It’s because we all know water is vital, but we often leave the most important thing to our physical and mental health on the back burner.
I honestly can’t say much on the topic, I drink way too little water and way too much coffee (I even wrote a blog on it, I’m that addicted). But it’s time to change that.
Why drink water? Well the obvious answer is you’ll die without it. But water does way more than that. It can help with headaches, improve your focus and ability to concentrate, improve your mood, helps you think more clearly, and more.
I’m sad to say this, but water is better than coffee. Geez that was tough to say.
So here are a couple tricks you can take to keep H2O on the mind:
Bring a water bottle wherever you go, most coffee places will fill it up for free (there are apps to help you find places) and most cities in North America have drinkable tap water. This way you have no excuse to keep sipping away while you work.
You can add a “Drink Water” notification into your reminders or calendar to have it on your phone or smart-watch at all times.
I go old-school; if I have a busy day I’ll write with Sharpie a reminder to drink water on the back of my hand (whatever works, am I right?). Once you get in the habit, it’ll become easier to reach for the water bottle until it becomes a reflex.
The really neat thing about water (other than everything) is if you hate the taste, you can add some flavour. My personal favourite thing is blueberry and lime infused water, but you don’t have to limit yourself to just one. There’s thousands of infusion combinations for fresh fruits and veggies, along with store-bought flavour drops or “beads” that you can add to your water for a quick taste.
But legit: Try the blueberry lime water.
Strategy 4: Declutter Your Space
A cluttered home leads to a cluttered mind.
So if you start feeling overwhelmed, tidy up a little bit. Not only will it give you more room to work with, it gives a small bit of of triumph to see a clean place.
Doesn’t this soothe you?
Look at how neat it is.
Perfectly arranged, it’s wonderful.
Bustle outlines 6 benefits to decluttering the best:
- You’ll be able to concentrate for days
- You’ll be more creative
- You’ll sleep better
- It’ll boost your mood
- You’ll be able to let go of your past
- You’ll focus more clearly on your goals
This is more time-consuming, but at the end of the day/week/month, it really needs to be done. Really.
Strategy 5: Reduce Loneliness With A Great Circle
Humans are social, so getting in some time to talk with someone is extremely important to your mental health, and studies show that it’s beneficial even if it’s just gossip. The important thing here is knowing who to talk to, and who to talk with.
This distinction may sound vague, but bear with me. It’s a saying I’ve picked up on during a rather draining University experience.
Talking to someone is small-talk, water-cooler conversations on the weather, the latest celebrity scandal, what Jim in the office said about Mary. It can include talking about yourselves, but on a shallow level, like what TV shows they like and restaurant recommendations. You don’t talk about personal items, such as anxiety of what’s happening at home, political stances, or personal beliefs.
Talking with someone is an open communication between people. This is reserved for friends, family, and significant others. This relationship is where you can confide in one another, without worries of anger, sadness, or drama.
And here is where people mess up.
They choose to talk with the wrong people. They open up to people who simply do not have your best interests at heart, and tear you down. The emotional investment you make with these people then results in you feeling rather down in the dumps. So switch things up.
Choosing people to get close to isn’t as difficult as it seems. Find someone who doesn’t tear you down and make you feel bad about yourself, but rather encourages you to be a better version of yourself (as cliche as that sounds).
I cannot emphasize this enough. If you have people that don’t support you and make you feel good, ditch them. It’s harsh, but in order to take care of yourself, you need positive vibes from the people you communicate with.
I mean, when are you ever excited about talking with someone you don’t get along with very well? Exactly. Point is made. Get this done in one fell swoop, and never worry again. Trust me, it’s for your own good.
Strategy 6: Don’t Be Afraid To Unplug
This is probably the hardest technique on the list. To leave your phone, computer, tablet, all of that, takes a ridiculous amount of discipline. If you’re in the competitive world of business or media, this may sound impossible. I know, I’m one of them.
But here’s the thing. It’s possible.
Who here spends about 5 hours (minimum) a week watching Netflix? Or maybe Youtube? Candy Crush? Facebook and Twitter? Other apps available on your phone?
Now take one of those hours to do absolutely nothing but relax, think, and work, avoiding all notifications until you get something done. It doesn’t have to be all in one, but taking sometime out of your schedule to let your brain relax leaves your more refreshed and ready for the tasks ahead.
This isn’t the same thing as meditation, as you aren’t pushing all the thoughts out of your head. It’s more about getting rid of distractions and focusing on the task at hand.
Don’t know how? The Young PR’s podcast goes over how they manage to do “deep-thinking” and take a mental break from electronics.
This one is tough. Try easing yourself into it with 5 minute intervals every day, slowly increasing it until you can get to thirty minutes or an hour. It’ll get easier the more you get acquainted with the idea of being separated from your mobile.
Wrapping Things Up
Self-care doesn’t just happen, it takes some effort to keep you in the hustler mode. These tactics make taking care of yourself that much easier.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and techniques for taking care of yourself! Let me know in the comments, or get in touch over Twitter.