A lot of people ask me how I manage to keep my shit together on a semi-regular basis. And the fact that they do comes as a mild surprise because in my head, I certainly don’t have it all together all of the time.
One thing I am mastering however is the art of SELF-CARE. Self-care seems to have become a bit of a ‘buzz’ phrase of late – but this may well be because it is so important. In this day and age of instant gratification and fast-moving everything, many of us have forgotten how to truly care for ourselves.
We do our utmost to keep up with every body and every thing – and run ourselves into the ground doing so. And when we do this for too long we run the risk of waking up one day and realising that our lives are not how we want them to be. We are stressed, dissatisfied and most likely wondering what the point of it all is.
THIS is the moment that we truly need to embrace the idea of self-love, and self-care.
SO. WITHOUT FURTHER ADO, I WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH YOU NOW WHAT WORKS FOR ME:
My top 4 self-care activities for when life SUCKS
SLEEP is nothing short of the perfect escape. From everything. I love the way that nothing matters when I’m asleep. On not-so-good days I often count down the hours and minutes until it is deemed socially acceptable to crawl into bed.
The not so great news about sleep is that it is usually one of the first things to go haywire when we go through stressful times. In fact, I believe a good indication of how well our subconscious systems are coping with the challenges before us is how well we are resting at night.
If, even amongst the chaos and stress, you are able to manage some good quality rest each night, you are doing pretty well. If however you find yourself on high red alert as you lay between the sheets, this probably means that your mind, body and soul are struggling a little to keep up with what’s going on in your waking hours.
But don’t fret, there are some things you can do to help your body relax in preparation for blissful sleep each night:
Don’t obsess over it – even if sleep itself is eluding you, just lying in a relaxed position with your eyes closed will give you some much-needed rest
Improve your sleeping environment – ensure that your bedding is comfortable, your room is sufficiently dark (I have an impossibly bright street light shining into mine – ughh) and that it’s neither too hot or too cold
Listen to your body clock – go to bed and get up at similar times each day
Avoid alcohol & drugs – the best ‘drugs’ for bedtime are warm milk or herbal tea
Relax both mind and body – no mentally stimulating activities before bedtime (including social media)
Take a warm bath - dim the lights (or scrap them altogether and light some candles)
Ditch the phone - put it on silent and keep it well away from your head!
2. BREATHE YOUR WAY TO RELAXATION
Like most of us, I’m not great at setting aside time for ‘formal’ meditation. The good news is, we really don’t need a big chunk of time to reap the benefits that come from stilling our minds. Even five minutes here and there will give us some relief from the clutter, noise and chaos inside our heads.
TRY THIS EXERCISE (super effective for the time poor and particularly ideal after finishing one task and before moving on to the next):
Remain focussed on your breathing, not paying heed to the thoughts as they pass through your mind. You can’t stop the thoughts, so just leave them be. Acknowledge that they are there, then picture them leaving. Remaining focussed on your breathing will help with this
Stay in this state for 5-10 minutes (longer if possible). Once you are ready to move on, do so slowly. Open your eyes and gradually become aware of your surroundings, then slowly rise. You should find yourself feeling refreshed, revitalised and ready to tackle the next drama!
3. DO SOMETHING CREATIVE OR CLEVER
Have you noticed how GOOD you feel after you’ve created something you feel proud of? There’s good reason for this – our souls literally crave to create something. Anything. It is what we are here to do!
This is the reason we usually feel most alive when we are on a roll doing something useful with our brains, and why we feel the most bored and dissatisfied (and angry) with life when we have nothing useful to do.
Do you like coming up with new ideas for the kitchen? Writing? Drawing? Creating spectacular creations in the garden? Whatever it is that you do – for the love of god, spend some time today doing it. Don’t wait until motivations strikes – it may never strike, particularly if you are not in a good headspace.
I am living proof of this. The thing that I love to do is to write. When I’m feeling bored/stressed/unhappy/sorry for myself… my writing is the first thing to go on the backburner. The thought of creating sentences seems too much to handle.
I have learnt that these are the times that I NEED to write. So I have learned to MAKE myself write – to stop the procrastination and just do it. It may take some time, but the creative juices eventually begin their flow. It is at these times that I feel most alive… and that life doesn’t seem quite so sucky.
4. GET OUTSIDE
Another thing our souls crave is to be close to nature. To be connected with it. Obviously, in our modern plastic and digital fake world this is happening less and less.
Don’t get me wrong – I have a screen of some sort planted to my face most of the time. But I know when I need a break. I can actually feel my mind going a little cray cray if I’m inside staring at screens and walls and books for too long.
The thing that I love about nature is that it is so simple. It is so so easy to feel good when walking barefoot on the dirt or grass. It costs nothing, and we don’t need to convince ourselves that we feel good or that it is good for us – we just naturally feel good when we’re out in the fresh air.
So. For an extremely quick and effective pick-me-up, please DO THIS. Drag yourself away from the laptop/ kitchen sink/ screaming child/ demanding person and get the hell outside. Find a patch of grass, kick your shoes off and breathe in the air.
Your soul will thank you for it.
What else do you like to do when life starts to SUCK? Please share in the comments!
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