It’s been a bit over a week now since the start of the new year, which means a return to work for many. For a lot of folks being back on the job might also mean a return to feeling tired and stressed out, which means it’s a good time for a friendly reminder about the importance of self-care.
Self-care can take many forms, as what each individual needs in any given moment will of course vary. Here are just a handful of simple, easy things to help make life that little bit better if you find yourself feeling stretched to your limits this week or in the future.
1 – Grab a cup of green tea
I love a good cup of tea. While I generally go for a nice bit of Yorkshire Gold, it definitely wouldn’t hurt to have a bit more green tea in my life. Green tea has been shown to help ease anxiety, plus it has a lot of other health benefits worth knowing about. The amino acid L-theanine in green tea bolsters dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain, generating a calming effect without drowsiness. Additionally, because green tea isn’t processed like black tea, it is richer in antioxidants. The next time you need a tea break when you’re feeling a bit stretched thin, consider going for the green stuff.
2 – Savor a square (or two…) of dark chocolate
When Dementors threatened to suck all the happiness and hope out of Harry Potter, Professor Lupin was at hand to give the young wizard something to alleviate his despair – chocolate. Studies have shown that regularly eating a small amount of dark chocolate can contribute to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Moderation is key, but go ahead and indulge a little bit if needed.
3 – Color your way to contentment
Coloring books for adults have become a big thing in the past year or two, and rightfully so, I feel. The well-known psychologist Carl Jung actually ‘prescribed’ a bit of coloring at times, believing it could help a patient tap into his or her subconscious. Softly focusing on the act of coloring can be quite relaxing, and it can enhance our ability to concentrate and problem solve as well.
4 – Give a bullet journal a go
Bullet journals haven’t been around for a very long time, but already they are all up in people’s Instagram feeds and dotted throughout Buzzfeed ‘best of’ lists. At their most basic, a bullet journal is like a to-do list, a schedule, and a journal bundled into one. There’s a whole system to it that, from the perspective of someone who hasn’t yet tried it herself, seems like it might take a bit of getting used to – but a lot of people swear by it and its usefulness to them. A main draw seems to be just how customizable these journals can be, as well as that there are virtually limitless ways of decorating them in the process of making them your own.
If a bullet journal doesn’t seem like your thing, then perhaps a more traditional journal would suit. Take a few quiet moments here and there to write down a handful of things for which you’re grateful or a couple highlights from your week. Practicing gratitude can ultimately help you sleep better, become more patient, and ease depression.
5 – Wash away stresses with an indulgent bath
This one’s a classic, of course. Get the hot tap running, add a bath bomb or pour in some bath soak, light a candle, and pop on a calming playlist (My top pick: the ‘Indian Chill’ playlist on Spotify)… Let the chillaxin’ begin.
Don’t have a bathtub at home? That’s OK. Alternatively, you could check out a local spa or fitness facility (if it has a spa section – a lot of them do nowadays) and indulge in a bit of jacuzzi time.
6 – Try a body scan meditation
The body scan is a type of mindfulness meditation intended to bring about greater awareness of the body, with the potential to aid in the relief of aches and pains. It can be performed while sitting or lying down, and there are numerous guided practices out there to help you get started. Personally, I’ve at times used the Body Scan guided meditation found via the app Calm. Last I checked it was included in the free version of the app, although you can pay a yearly subscription fee to access all of the 100+ guided meditations and other mindful living resources Calm has to offer should you so desire. Alternatively, have a look around YouTube – there are dozens of guided body scan meditations on there as well.
That’s it for now, but look out for more posts on self-care and well-being here on Cathedral Grove in the near future. In the meantime, let us know what your top self-care practice is in the comments. Be well, folks!