We so often want everything we do to have so much more redeeming value. It has to help us lose a pound or get a job. But doing things that are just kind to ourselves, that place a premium on our worth, actually have a pretty significant positive impact on our sense of well-being. Here are five easy ways to give your self-care a boost.
Buy Yourself Flowers
I learned this trick from a former colleague who always had a vase of fresh flowers in her office. I assumed they were from her husband but one week I mentioned them, and she said she bought them for herself every week. Buying yourself flowers is such a simple act of self-love and an easy way to bring beauty into your daily life.
I now have a vase made by a NC potter that is my weekly flower vase and every Saturday from April to October, while the farmer’s market is in season in Davidson, I buy myself flowers. I also love the metaphor- no two flowers are exactly alike, but they are each uniquely beautiful, just like people.
Do Something You Enjoy Daily
We can be so incredibly focused at times and push away anything on our agenda that isn’t instantly productive. But doing one thing- whether that’s singing a song, running, walking the dog, completing a crossword puzzle- that we enjoy everyday gives us a moment of daily pleasure that takes us out of our mind and allows us to unwind and just remember that a significant part of what we should be doing is delighting in life. If you are stumped on what to do, take five minutes to list everything that you enjoy doing, along with the date that you last did each thing. Now look over your list and choose one thing you can do today. Taking pleasure in life, after all, reduces our stress, increases our endorphins, and gives us an overall sense of well-being.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
Too often, we fail to see the miracles and beauty in our days. Yet gratitude is such an important factor in our sense of happiness and well-being. The Gratitude Journal gained fame after Oprah Winfrey featured it on her show. The concept, which comes from the Quaker tradition, is to write a gratitude list that celebrates three to five things, no matter how small, each night. By grounding yourself in the things for which you are grateful, you become even more empowered to explore your life’s possibilities.
Sometimes it is helpful to just get out of our own heads for awhile, and one of the best ways to do that is to read. Research from the Mind lab at the University of Sussex has revealed that reading for as little as ten minutes can lower one’s heart rate and reduce stress. When we feel less stressed, we feel more comfortable in our skin. Today email or phone people whose reading tastes might lead you to a fabulous find and ask them what they recommend. Jot down all their suggestions and then go to a book store, library, or audiobook vendor and select one of them to read or listen to for at least 10 minutes today. For just that time, escape from yourself and your own preoccupations and enjoy your read.
Create a Bedtime Ritual
Going to bed was always a race for me. How quickly could I brush teeth, take out my contacts, and change clothes before bed? But I have learned that the rush of getting to bed jacked me up rather than calm me. By creating a bedtime ritual where I wash my face, put on face cream, brush and floss my teeth, update my journal, and read a few pages of a book, I provide myself quiet time to unwind, to reflect on how my day ended, and to think about the day that is coming. It’s not that the ritual makes me more physically beautiful, it’s that it provides me with an opportunity to be deliberately still and thoughtful at the end of the day. Create a three- to five-step bedtime ritual that allows you to unwind, savor, reflect, and plan before going to sleep.