I spent sooo many days this winter with a lingering flu/cold. This meant lots of time in bed, sleeping, eating crappy foods, not being super social or active, etc. And I know that eating well, being active and social, and having a routine are super important factors to keep me feeling happy/healthy. So this period of inactivity has left me feeling extremely drained and overall my habits are less healthy than before.
In order to start feeling the best I possibly can, and to remind myself how to pick back up from future gloomy/sicky days, I put together a little list of my personal self-care tips and needs. These are things I’ve realised have a huge impact on my sense of health and wellbeing if incorporated as part of my regular routine.
I encourage everyone to make a similar list as a resource to turn to when you aren’t feeling great, to remind you of ways to take care of yourself and start to feel a bit better. Most of these things are not huge, time consuming ideas but rather small, simple things to keep you going.
These are my self-care tips/needs that I try to practice on a regular basis:
Staying hydrated (I feel extremely tired and headachy if I don’t drink enough water during the day. While others turn to coffee during their afternoon energy dip, for me a bottle of water or a herbal tea makes me feel refreshed and healthy.)
Eating nourishing foods (I’ve been a vegetarian for the majority of my life, and more recently have often been eating vegan. I feel my best when I’m eating lots of home cooked meals, fresh fruit & veg, nuts, tofu, and some carbs like quinoa/rye bread/lentils/beans – whereas I often feel sluggish and bloated after eating things like pasta, pizza, and generally take out foods. Everyone’s body works differently but mine is extremely sensitive to heavy/rich/oily food and I notice how much healthier I feel in body and mind if I’ve eaten what I know works for me best).
Focusing on my breath & practicing meditation (This is something I’ve been working on for over a year now, but my meditation practice is one of the first healthy habits that goes out of the window when I’m feeling unwell! Meditation has taught me incredible things about noticing sensations in my body, using my breath as a tool to support my anxiety, and to have a more objective relationship to my thoughts & feelings and it is invaluable.)
Spending grounding time in nature (The more time I spend in my room/public transport/my car/at work/anywhere else indoors and the less time spent outside tends to make me more anxious, and much less grounded and grateful for life. I love the feeling of the air on my face, the smell of fresh rain, walking barefoot in the sand/ocean/grass/the ground, and seeing the incredible diversity that exists within nature. I love the feeling I get of being connected to an entity much larger than just myself. I truly feel empowered and energized by that time and so it’s something that I need to create the opportunity for as often as possible.)
Experiencing pleasure-full movement (When we move through our daily lives it’s very easy to not actually pay attention to your body as it moves: getting up out of bed, stretching, getting ready for the day, travelling to work, sitting at a desk/standing behind a till, etc., travelling home, getting ready for bed, lying down in bed, and repeat. And as someone who has grown up feeling pretty shy, and who is small, it’s easy for me to minimise the movements and expressions of my body. But I’ve always LOVED to dance and I manage to break free of feeling ‘small’ when I do. I also LOVE to go for a brisk walk/bike ride/hike that gets my heart rate pumping a little bit. I have discovered there is pure joy to be had in moving your body in a way that feels good to you and truly paying attention to how it feels without worrying or thinking about other things. So I make an effort to factor in times for dancing/hiking/biking etc. during my week.)
Spending time with good people who accept and celebrate me as I am (As most people who experience anxiety know, it can be really isolating and nerve-wracking to consider spending time with people when you are worried about how you act/look and how they will receive and respond to you. I’ve learned how much I value my connections to people who I don’t have to be my prettiest/shiniest/funniest/best self with but will welcome and celebrate me no matter how I show up. It’s truly much more relaxing, and actually energising, than dedicating your precious time to those who are not willing to give you this same reception.)
Practicing gratitude (It’s far too easy to focus on the negatives of your day/month/year/self and not take the time to notice all the loveliness that also exists. I love ending my day with a few moments of feeling grateful and appreciative to myself and the world for specific things that happened that day. It’s a good reminder, especially while experiencing gloom/sickness, that you felt happy/grateful/rested/etc. at one point and you can and will again!)