SELF CARE. Okay so I see this term getting thrown around a lot, like what does self care even mean? Well if I were to define it I would say it is anything that makes you feel good mentally, physically and or spiritually.
Self care may be looked at to some as indulgent or unnecessary, but it is quite the opposite. It takes discipline and commitment to practice weekly or even daily self care. If you learn the hard way (like I did) how important self care is then you know it is a necessity (Want a recap? I talk about my struggle with mental health during university in the post here)
Basically with such busy and stressful lives everyone needs to wind down, relax, and let their bodies and minds rest. This is what self care allows. It is about balance and moderation, it’s about doing things that make you feel amazing! When I say amazing I mean physically energized, mentally calm, clear and most of all, confident. With that being said, let’s dive into my favourite 11 self care habits!
1. Gym & Dance Class
I count exercise at the gym and dance class as self care practices. They boost my endorphins, keep me physically fit, allow me to sweat out toxins, and reduce stress. But these activities are physically demanding so I try not to push it to the point that I am exhausted and always sore on my days off. 3-4 days a week seems to be my sweet spot!
2. Yoga & Stretching
I like to balance my intense physical activity with something more gentle like stretching or yoga. My body feels so good after a good stretch! I feel limber, mentally clear, and relaxed. Also if you are working out regularly stretching helps decrease muscle soreness, reduces the risk of injury, and increases range of motion and flexibility. Since I started taking dance classes again a few months ago, I noticed I needed to incorporate more stretching into my routine so I could preform the choreography better and protect my lower back. (I injured it in high school so it's sensitive to certain activities like dance)
I realized I was carrying a lot of tension in my back, neck and shoulders (I assume from being hunched working on my laptop) and I already had a bad lower back, so knowing this I started incorporating massages into my routine. This is a new habit for me, I have been going about once a month since moving to Toronto. This might sound super luxurious, but it's really not! I go to a place in Chinatown that quite affordable, and they reeeeeally work on your knots. It's actually kind of painful during the massage, but my body feels loose and relaxed afterwards!
4. Sauna & Steam Bath
I swear there's nothing better after a good workout than relaxing in the sauna or steam bath. The difference between them is a sauna has a dryer heat which promotes muscle relaxation. I love going in the sauna after any of the above activities I listed since my muscles are usually sore after doing them.
A steam bath is a more humid heat, it makes you sweat, A LOT. It's awesome if you are wanting to sweat out extra water weight (my friend does this to tighten up before a shoot) but for me I love how my skin feels afterwards, since sweating is your bodies natural way of detoxifying.
5. Smoothies & Juice
I love starting my day with a smoothie! It's an easy and delicious way to get a few servings of fruit and veggies (I like berries, pineapple, a handful of spinach and sometimes banana in mine). I always feel my bod is thanking me when I feed it a smoothie.
Sometimes when I'm out I'll get one as a snack or a fresh pressed juice. I'm sure my body is thinking, what no coffee?! Don't you just feel like a health nut when you have a pressed juice or smoothie? Maybe it's just me lol 🙈
Mind & Spirit
I love how quick, easy and effective meditation is to do. This is a habit I try to do daily because it really sets the tone for the day. I use it as a way to quiet my mind and tap into my intuition. If I have any big decision or action to take in my life, I meditate beforehand.
Journaling is something I've done forevaaaaa! My mom is my witness because from a young age (and still to this day) use up all her notepad paper scribbling down random notes. She would get annoyed when she had to take a message or write down a reminder because I used all the notepad paper and have stacks of notes in my room, or uhh around the house 😝 (sorry mom!)
I’m not a let’s journal my life and share my darkest secrets, more like I need to write down my random ideas, my to do list, my goals, even just whats bothering me and how to work through it. Journaling helps me organize and articulate my thoughts and feelings.
I practice writing out affirmations and rewriting my beliefs, when I’m trying to overcome negative thinking patterns. This is similar to journaling, it's the step I do after writing out my thoughts. If I'm stressed about money, feeling lost in my career, having problems with a friend, I write out my beliefs around those topics. I go general so I believe them and then slowly get more and more specific until I change my perspective entirely.
That probably sounds confusing, but here's an example:
Problem/my thought: My friend won't talk to me, I must have done something to upset her. (something currently bothering me that's on my mind)
General belief: Everyone gets busy and goes through hard times, people need their own space. (a statement that I already believe that brings me some peace of mind)
New specific belief: My friendships are strong, we can get through any hardship and communicate our feelings openly. (maybe something I doubted at first but after cleaning up my negative thoughts I believed this statement more)
9. Nature Walks
Being out in nature is a definite mood booster for me, I consider walks a great way to clear my head and reduce stress. Nature is seriously magical, something about plants, fresh air and silence do wonders for your mind. Now going on nature walks were much easier to do when I lived in London. Now that I live in downtown Toronto there's less green space, but I enjoy walking down by the harbourfront!
10. Music & Dancing
Now we are getting to my favourite part of my self care list! I fully believe everyone should do more things that increase their confidence. Confidence affects every area of our life, from our relationships & dating, to our careers, our health, etc! For me listening to upbeat music and dancing by buns off is my biggest confidence booster. I think it's because I am having fun and feel so energized, that I care less what people think and just focus on how amazing I feel!
I take every opportunity I get to incorporate these two into my life. I listen to music when I'm getting ready, cleaning, and cooking, and I'm not gonna lie, I dance a little too. But I also love going out with my friends and dancing at the bars and of course taking dance classes like I mentioned above.
My fav thing to do in my free time is get a manicure. Something about having nice nails makes me feel awesome and that I have my life together LOL. Ok maybe that's kinda weird, but I'm sure we all have little tricks that make us fee hot & confident, so I just embrace it 😘
So babes if you have read this far, I hope you got that the takeaway from this blog post is that everyone has different things that make them feel great, and whatever they are, you should do MORE of it!
Whether it’s an activity that improves how your body feels, takes care of your mind and spirit, or increases your confidence, label it as a self care activity and do that *ish alllll the time!
Imagine if you did something each day to take care of you, to appreciate and love yourself, how would you feel? How would your life change over time?