In a perfect world, we would never run out of energy, always be content, and never be disturbed. But we all know we don’t live in a perfect world. A handful of times, I’ve wished sleep wasn’t an option because of never-ending to-do lists. My anxiety was through the roof, causing sleepless nights and feeling fatigued the next day. I would skip meals and the gym. Ah yes, I would also lose my temper, and quite frankly, didn’t have the patience to provide any kind of explanation for my behavior or attitude. I felt there was no point in explaining because I felt no one could relate. I was out of touch with every area of my personal life. Does this sound all too familiar?
If you know me personally then you know I am all about “kicking ass” and conquering each day. I can get a little competitive, and most of the time, I am competing with myself. A question that is constantly on my mind is, “Am I better than I was yesterday?” And although conquering each day is the ideal situation, some days require extra effort because my mind, body, and soul are not always aligned. And how am I supposed to give the best of myself if I am not taking care of myself first?
September is National Self-Care Awareness month so I thought it would be perfect to share a few tips on how to #treatyoself. These five self-care tips are ones that I apply to my own life and help me stay sane. I’ve gathered them through years of experience, reading, and conversing with family and friends.
Tip #1: Spend quiet time alone
Key word: quiet. How many times have you heard it’s important to spend time alone? I’m sure plenty of times! Nothing new or groundbreaking. But what about quiet time alone? No electronics, books, knitting, or whatever else you like to do whenever you’re alone. Just pure silence, silencing and shutting down every single thought.
“As it is, I would say about 80 to 90 percent of most people’s thinking is not only repetitive and useless, but because of its dysfunctional and often negative nature, much of it is also harmful. Observe your mind and you will find this to be true. It causes a serious leakage of vital energy.” – Eckhart Tolle
Ever since reading “The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment” by Eckhart Tolle, I’ve learned to become the watcher of my thoughts. Tolle points out most of our thoughts are repetitive and useless and I couldn’t agree more after realizing how irrelevant most of my thoughts were only a few weeks after implementing this “become the observer of your thoughts” exercise. I first tried it whenever I found myself spending “time alone” but I noticed I wasn’t really alone. There was so much brain activity it felt like I was living in my head…hard to describe but I realized two things. The first one was, it was easy getting caught up in past memories, and the second was, it didn’t take much effort getting lost in fantasying about the future. This meant one thing…I was forgetting to live in the present, hence, the title of the book. It is my deepest desire to master living in the present every single day and be so connected with my inner-self nothing will disturb my inner peace. Go ahead and observe your thoughts. Observe what consumes you. Is it the past? The future? Are your thoughts repetitive and useless? If the answer to the last question is yes, then like most people, you are probably left without energy, yet filled with worries, anxiety, maybe depression. Life doesn’t have to be this way. The present moment has so much to offer and there is so much power in the “now”.
Tip #2: Feed your spirit
I cannot reiterate enough how critical it is to be well with yourself and others. Letting go and letting be. I think the first step is to free your spirit of grudges, hate, envy, and then feed it with harmony, peace, and love. Feeding the spirit with goodness can be done by spending time outside, listening to uplifting podcasts, surrounding yourself with positive people, or attending church! The list could go on and on. Figure out what makes your spirit feel at peace, energized, and loved, then make sure to set time aside for those things (or people).
Tip #3: Find a hobby (or hobbies)
Okay, so your hobby (or hobbies) may include other people or not. Heck, why not both? There are hobbies to enjoy by yourself such as crafting, sowing, writing, etc., or those that include others such as playing tennis, doing yoga, cooking, etc. The purpose of this tip is to find a verb that will distract you in order to give your brain a little rest. Because let’s be real, everyone needs to escape from responsibilities every once in a while. And yes, napping is a verb.
Tip #4: Declutter
Learning to say goodbye to certain things is quite hard for me. I get emotionally attached to A LOT – I am so emotional I even get attached to the cars driving in front of me during a long trip haha! Anyone else with me on that? It’s not necessary! About a year ago (soon after getting married), I aspired to become a minimalist. Still aspiring, not there yet though! During this phase, I managed to part ways with many belongings I held onto for so long! And best part? It was LIBERATING!!! I got so excited I had no problem applying this minimalistic approach in the kitchen, living room, and storage spaces. That’s right, we cut down to the basic necessities. And believe it or not, it felt like a weight was lifted off our shoulders. And it felt so damn good…still does! I haven’t done any research on this, but based on our brief experience of trying to become minimalists, I strongly believe this lifestyle has many health benefits. So you may or may not be ready to cut down to the bare necessities (can’t help but to sing ‘The Bare Necessities’ song from the Jungle Book), but try and see for yourself.
Tip #5: Meditate/pray
And last but not least, meditate and/or pray at least twice a day, once in the morning and again before going to bed. It’s no secret I believe in God but I understand this isn’t the case for everyone. So whatever it is you choose to believe in, spend quality time with that greater power, force, creator. I don’t think there is anything more fulfilling or satisfying. It is a special time to decompress, reflect, give thanks, ask for forgiveness, seek guidance, and think of others. I would say this tip goes hand in hand with #2. Don’t ya think?
I truly enjoyed writing this blog post and will most likely share more regarding this subject even when the month is over. I don’t think we talk about self-caring enough. At Sunday’s mass, the Priest couldn’t have said it better, “We must give of ourselves by taking care of ourselves first – spiritually, physically, and emotionally.” His words spoke to my heart since this blog post was underway since the beginning of September, can you believe that?!? And now it’s almost over! Here’s to all the people that asked to be awakened when September ends…