There's only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”
- Aldous Huxley.
Self-care is predominantly dismissed as the latest millennial trend. The term is often associated with making simple lifestyle choices, such as eating well, dressing up well, exercising, listening to music, taking proper sleep, etc. However, self-care is more than just about physical wellbeing and incorporates the concept of mental and intellectual care as well by the ways of relaxation, yoga, mindfulness, de-stressing, learning new languages or ideas, etc.
Incidentally, the concept of self-care has often been associated with only women, given the range of advertisements and media campaigns covering various beauty and health-care products targeting them. It is rare to find men who think about self-care, for the concept of male wellness is relatively new. Another reason behind limited acceptance of male self-care products is that men have been traditionally conditioned to believe that talking about self-care is too feminine, as the society has labeled these activities as women-centric.
However, with the advent of many marketing companies and products targeting men’s grooming, hygiene, and even mental relaxation (yes, we mean essential oils and perfumed candles for men!), the self-care concept seems to have got a new set of clientele.
Having a proper self-care routine is essential for improving oneself, for it is easy to get entangled in the web of daily chores as an employee, parent, friend, and so on. In our earnest desire to take care of others, we fail to take care of ourselves. This is further compounded by the thought that taking care of oneself is a selfish act. However, the truth is that with self-care, a person not only feels content, nourished, and happy, but also becomes fully recharged and better able to care for and nourish people around him.
So, if we want to become the best parent, spouse, or co-worker, we must carve out some time every day to retrospect and connect with ourselves to find out what we like and want in our lives. This will enable us to lead a better life, truly aligned with the values and aspirations which matter the most.
So How Does One Go About the Self-Care Routine?
A holistic self-care routine would be the one that equally targets the mind, body, and soul.
Self– Care for the Mind:
Start with a digital detox: Unplug yourself from all those gadgets and unwind. While this may not always be possible, try to schedule at least a couple of hours every day or over the weekends to De-addict from the digital world. Unplug here does not mean you have to be disconnected. You can go for a meal with friends and family, read a book, go cycling or jogging or simply lie flat on your back and count the stars! Though it might be challenging to keep away from gadgets at first, you will soon start enjoying being unplugged.
Declutter: Try to clean your wardrobe or office desk, which has been overflowing with things you have outgrown. Placing things in an organized fashion and getting rid of unwanted or unused items will give you peace of mind and a sense of achievement. Think Marie Kondo and Spark Joy, KonMari Guide to decluttering.
Try some yoga or meditation: Start your day with a little bit of self–introspection, breathing techniques, and meditation. Even a few minutes spent every day practicing the above methods can bring in a lot of calmness. I highly recommend using either the Calm or Headspace Apps. 10 Mins a day can change your life.
Be Present: There are many things that we do on an auto-mode, say brushing, flossing, eating, regular commuting, and so on. Try to be present to such things that we do on autopilot mode — for instance, being present how you feel when brushing your teeth, or when chewing your food. Try to change the route you regularly take to work by going via a new way instead. Be present to the people at the subway station, and try to connect with a few.
Practicing such self-care methods for the mind will significantly help in improving mental health and, also, keeping depression and burnout at bay.
Self Care for the Body:
Practice deep-breathing techniques: Try to spare at least ten minutes every day to practice deep breathing. Deep breathing not only relaxes the mind but also helps in lowering blood pressure and relaxing the tired muscles. Box Breathing Techniques to try.
Take a power nap: A power nap is a magical way to wake up and recharge the body and mind, especially if you are tired and feel lethargic. Such micro-naps of even ten to twenty minutes help to de-stress the body. Studies have shown that a small midday micro-nap lowers the blood pressure.
Go green and spend some time in nature: Try spending some quiet time sitting amidst greenery or under the sun, if you are lucky to get sunshine in your area. Nature is a natural healer and helps to replenish and rejuvenate the body and mind.
Include one additional healthy food choice for the week: Try to include healthy and fresh food in your diet at least two to three times a week. Choose two healthy recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and try to include them twice or thrice a week. Also, try taking an extra glass of water and additional veggies over each meal. Try to avoid ultra-processed foods. Here are some recipes to get you started.
Treat your body: Pat your body gently and shower some love and affection on it. Try applying a moisturizer or wearing an attire that is gentle on your skin.
Dance: Dance your body to upbeat music. You will feel refreshed and happy.
Self Care for the Soul:
Connect with your inner self: Try to remain in silence, calm your mind for a few minutes every day and ask yourself what you need. Wait for the inner voice to respond. Find time to do the things which your body and mind ask you to do. Here are some questions to get you started.
Journal your thoughts: Writing a journal can be an excellent idea to connect with your inner self. Pen down your thoughts and read them often.
Stroke a pet: Pets, like dogs and cats, are well-known stress relievers. Stroking these furry friends can enhance your mood, bring in unconditional love, take away loneliness, and motivate you to go out and exercise. They can also help you connect with people, as while walking your pets, you might as well stop to chat with other people.
Treat Yo Self: Gifts need not necessarily come from another person. Go ahead and buy yourself a present. It could be a lavish item that you have desired for a long time. Splurge occasionally without being guilty.
Do something you enjoy: Plan weekend trips to nearby getaways, visit museums, try some hobbies like photography, hiking, and trekking, playing golf, watching a good movie, reading a book or learning a new language or developing your intellect.
Indulge in a lavish shower: Take a hot shower with essential oils. A warm bath is proven to ease out tension and relax the muscles. It also helps in augmenting the levels of oxytocin or the feel-good hormone. For those who do not prefer a hot shower, a cold shower will also help in making you more energetic and alert.
So relax, refresh, and recharge your mind, ,body and soul with these self-care practices and, finally, don’t forget to doodle!