Notice I titled this, “10 Simple Ways,” and not, “10 Easy Ways.” As a trauma survivor, self-care is never easy. It is often the last thing I want to do. But it is the quickest way to begin to feel better. About myself. About life.
Like the other day. My husband and I had COVID, I had to grade finals, I had my period and life felt tough. The last thing I wanted to do was take care of myself. But I knew that if I wrote in my journal, took a shower and did some laundry that I would feel better about life. So I did. And I did. It made me realize that it really is the small things. The simple things that make life feel better.
So here are 10 simple ways to practice self-care every day:
- Get out of bed. On hard days, it’s easy to stay in bed longer than I should, but I always make sure I get up. To have a chance at a productive day. While most of us have no choice but to get out of bed, the way in which we do will set the tone for the rest of our day. I try to smile when I rise. Even if I’m forcing it.
- Write or meditate first thing in the morning. To set your intentions and to work through any unresolved feelings. I write in my journal and meditate before I start my day each day, especially on days I don’t want to, and I find that it gives my feelings a place to go so I’m not just setting them aside all day.
- Shower or take a bath. On days you don’t, at least wipe all your crevices with a washcloth–it’s soothing to feel clean.
- Brush your teeth and your hair. I use dry shampoo most days and only wash my hair when I have to, about twice a week. Again, it’s soothing to feel clean.
- Get dressed. Even though I work from home, I still get dressed every day. It makes me feel better, more productive. And even though I still wear comfy clothes, they’re at least different comfy clothes than my pajamas. I’m also mindful of wearing clean clothes or only re-wearing something I had positive energy while wearing. Anything I felt negative energy while wearing, I wash before wearing again.
- Have a schedule. I find that on days I don’t have a schedule, I’m less productive and more inclined to feel over- or underwhelmed. Schedules give us direction and purpose. And that includes scheduling downtime–to make sure you get it.
- Take breaks. Once you’re working, it’s easy to push through, but by taking breaks, you’re giving yourself time to reconnect to yourself. I like to write in my journal, go for a walk or do yoga. I find engaging in a non-screen activity gives me the real break I need. And breaks don’t have to be long. You only need five or 10 minutes to feel rejuvenated before you get back to work.
- Move. I find it difficult to do strenuous exercise every day, but I know I need to move to keep my nervous system engaged. Walking or doing yoga usually is what works best for me. On hard days, I try to at least do household chores. Try different things and find what works best for you.
- Engage your nervous system. Moving is great for the nervous system, and so is using a weighted blanket or receiving a hug. Make sure you’re doing things that soothe your nervous system throughout the day.
- Do something joyful. I find pleasure in journaling, reading and being in nature, so I try to do at least one each day. Determine which activities bring you the most joy and try to do at least one of them every day. If you aren’t sure what brings you joy, take a break and make a list. Think of the things that make you feel the most content inside. And remember, you don’t have to have a lot of time to do them. Even if you only take 10 minutes every day to do what brings you joy, those 10 minutes will go a long way.
I wish you ease in practicing self-care every day. May you continue to travel safely to the center of your inner universe.
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