Self-care is like a way of life for me. After many years of toxic stress, people pleasing, and my fair share of anxiety and depression, I had to learn to take care of myself. An expert of sorts, I have figured out there are certain practices that are more beneficial. Self-care is meant to be holistic. Mind, body, spirit, and heart. With self-care, the goal is health and happiness. And when we are happy, we are more loving. Plain and simple. In this post, we will explore 7 Unexpected Self-Care Practices that Make You a Happier Human.
Self-Care: A Path of Love
There is something deep and true about caring for ourselves. Taking care of each intricate part of ourselves. Nurturing our bodies, sure, but holding ourselves in a high regard. Caring about how we think and feel. And creating inner and outer dialogues that heal and soothe rather than tear down.
When we care for ourselves and put our happiness first, there are many effects. Like a drop in a pool of water, there is a ripple effect. This is why self-care is not “selfish.” But because the overall effect of our care for ourselves sends a positive impact on those around us.
This can be seen in many ways. For one, when other people in our lives see us taking care of ourselves, we set an example that they too can do so. Another example of the positive effects of self-care is that we feel more positive about ourselves and are thus more likely to show compassion and love for others. There are many more examples of the impact of self-care that I won’t mention here. But the truth is our own self-care is a way to love others because the health and happiness we feel will spill over and touch others as well.
7 Unexpected Self-Care Practices
1. Limit tight, uncomfortable things on your body
Believe it or not, both men and women can benefit from this strategy. And while it may seem like such a small change, it actually produces HUGE benefits. When you are body is constricted, whether by a bra or by a pair of boots, you are enduring a low level of stress for hours on end. It may be unnoticeable, at first. But like holding up something over your head, over time it becomes heavier and more exhausting.
My suggestion? Find ways to wear more comfortable, loose fitting things everyday. And when you get home from work or being in public, IMMEDIATELY take off your skinny jeans, tight tank top, shoes, etc. and swap for something more comfortable. This is also true of hair styles. Take down your ponytail or ditch your headband.
Try it: Notice and tune into your body. Is there anywhere you are feeling tightness and even the mildest of discomfort? See if there is something you can take off or change to create less tension.
2. Give people the benefit of the doubt
Yesterday I was at a grocery store where I am often. There was an employee that I see all the time and yet she had never once smiled or even acknowledged me. In fact, as I started to think about it “Was she snubbing me?” “Maybe she doesn’t like me!?” Then something occurred to me. “Maybe she feels the same way about me?” I decided to assume the best of her. Instead of assuming she didn’t like me or was kinda bitchy, I approached her and complimented her hair to strike up a conversation.
Lo and behold, her face lit up and we had a lively, passionate conversation about wild hair colors. My opinion of her completely changed simply because I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. And I was also willing to take responsibility for what I was able to do in the situation. As a result, I was in a great mood!
You may be wondering, what does this have to do with self-care, Lizz? Well, having positive interactions and thoughts about others actually makes us feel so much better. This is a mental strategy to set ourselves up for healthy interactions with any and everyone we come in contact with. It serves us to think highly of others! Who knew, right?
Try it: Next time you notice your thoughts turning to judgement about another person, stop and say “but they are just doing their best.”
3. Romance your own damn self
I spend a fair amount of time alone. And while I do date occasionally, I am single and sometimes feel like I a missing out on romance. One night, I decided to create an energy and atmosphere of romance, just for me, myself, and I.
I was intentional about it. I put on a fancy robe. Lit a candle. I made myself dessert. I massaged myself with body oil. Anything that you can think of that you wish a partner would do with or to you, you can actually do for yourself. And it feels incredible! Simple, right?
In fact, there was something more profound about it. Taking our happiness into our own hands and not waiting for someone else to make us happy is the ultimate self-care. To take care of ourselves not only makes us feel good but over time helps us learn to trust and appreciate ourselves, which leads to greater self-esteem.
Try it: Next time you have an hour or 2 to yourself, set the intention to romance yourself and sweep your own-damn-self off your feet.
4. Give yourself an extra 30 mins to an hour every morning
And then do whatever you want. This hasn’t been easy for me because that means sleeping 30-60 minutes less each morning (or going to bed a little earlier every night). But I promise it is worth it to not be rushing around trying to jump into your demands.
When we go from sleep to full-on adulting without much of a transition, our bodies are coursing with adrenaline and cortisol. Sure we might get stuff done, but in the meantime, we are getting stressed out!
Instead of waking up and immediately starting your day, take an extra 30 mins to sip your coffee in bed. Maybe read a book for a little while. Or do some stretches or exercise. Have sex. Do whatever the hell you want to, my dear!
Try it: Set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier than you normally would wake up. And when your alarm goes off, WAKE UP. Spend that 30 minutes doing things that you enjoy. Or do nothing. But just do it awake.
5. Give yourself permission to wallow (a little)
I know this might seem strange, but when you have a rough day, the last thing you need to do is just pretend like it’s all good. And sometimes even when we try to turn things around, we find ourselves only feeling worse and then judging ourselves for not feeling better or handling it better.
Let it go, girl. A bad day is exactly that. It’s bad. And it’s only a day. Tomorrow is likely to be better. So just accept that it’s not great, at the moment. Wallow a little. Cry. Call a friend. Be gentle with yourself.
Resist the urge to hide, protect, cling, or deny. Accepting the moment actually helps you to get through and over it quicker, as opposed to a day becoming weeks because you are trying to “fake it until you make it.”
Try it: Next time you have a bad day, sit down and let it out. Journal, talk to friends or family, and then do things to comfort yourself. Give yourself a night “off” after a bad day.
6. For daily use items, buy yourself something nice
I have a theory. If it’s something that you use every single day, it is a need, not a want. And if it is a need, its justified to spend money on it.
Some great examples would be a bed. The mattress, sheets, and comforter, to be more precise. If you are sleeping on a 10 year old spring mattress, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, buy yourself a new one. Invest in a good toothbrush and hairbrush. If something is good quality, we are actually going to benefit the most because we are using it daily!
Try it: Take note of things you use every single day. Notice if there is anything that needs replacing or is not serving its purpose well. Then treat yo’ self. For an awesome mattress delivered to your door via Amazon, I recommend this one.
7. Eliminate junk and keep your space clean
There is nothing worse than a cluttered bedroom or home. Piles of papers, clothes, and random junk triggers anxiety in most of us. Yet we often just look at it and keep going, trying to ignore it or put it off until later.
Looking at clutter or belongings that do not bring you joy is a missed opportunity to bring yourself peace and happiness. Not to mention, it signals “stress” to your brain, creating tension.
My advice? Get into the habit of straightening up your sacred spaces every morning or right before bed. Clear out clutter, especially from areas that you look at daily.
Try it: Wherever you spend most of your time at home, make sure this area is cleaned up daily. Always make your bed. Get rid of items or stuff that does not bring you joy when you look at it. Or store it out of sight. For inspiration, check out Marie Kando’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
What self-care practices do you use? What helps you stay happy? Comment and share below!