Something that has been on my mind lately is the overuse- sometimes even misuse- of helpful practices & techniques dedicated to mental health practice. Psychology Today defines mindfulness as "encompassing two key ingredients: awareness and acceptance. Awareness is the knowledge and ability to focus attention on one's inner processes and experiences, such as the experience of the present moment. Acceptance is the ability to observe and accept—rather than judge or avoid—those streams of thought." This definition seems simple enough but can be overwhelming if you do not know where to start. Mindfulness and self care look different for everyone and a lot of people want to enhance their mental state but get stuck in the overwhelming hashtags and content crediting mindfulness & self care in complexed and sometime bazar ways. So instead of thinking this practice to be extreme and expensive like booking a pricy spa weekend, quitting your job tomorrow or an entire week of Netflix binging, i've put together a few tips and tricks I use on the daily that are cheap, effective and painless to create a mindful practice that works in many different ways.
My Self Care Routine
I give myself one hour a day dedicated to "My Daily Hour" where I complete a combination of the following; reading, meditation, movement, journaling & creating. Some days I do a little of each and other days I only choose a few but each day I dedicate time to filling my own cup first. I put this on my calendar and switch it around if life circumstances require me to but I make sure to get it in some how, some way every single day.
I began putting this into practice a few years ago and find myself the most centered, grounded and aware that I've ever been. My routine took trial and error to find out what actives work for me and which do not and since I am always growing my process is always evolving.
Take a peek at what helps me to live my best life each and everyday and see if any elements would help you live yours.
*Tip: If you do not have an entire hour, split it up and take a few minutes throughout the day to do your routine. Also, start small and add on as you feel confident and comfortable.
I love reading non fiction as a part of my routine. I enjoy picking up tools to help me reflect, stay present and stay out of my own head. My minimum goal is to read 10 pages a day that enhance, inspire or teach me something.
My top 3 reads are;
You are Here by Thich Nhat Hanh
The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz
The 5am Club by Robin Sharma
I try to meditate for a minimum of 10 minutes a day. Meditation looks different for everyone so make sure to choose something that works for YOU!
You can sit, you can stand, you can lay down, you can do a moving meditation or anything that helps you get out of your head and breath. I highly recommend the app Headspace. I use this tool almost daily for guided meditations, unguided music, sleep meditations and much more. You can choose anywhere from 3 minutes to 20 minutes of the guided sessions, whatever fits your schedule that day. They offer courses on specific topics like Anxiety, Sadness, Balance, Acceptance, Patience, Mindful Eating and so much more. Remember that meditation takes practice and no one is "good at meditating". This means doing it habitually is a necessity so find a time of day that works for you and put it on your calendar to make sure you leave space for a few minutes each and every day to breath.
Each day I find time for a few minutes of movement. This typically looks like stretching or a basic yoga flow to get my blood flowing and body ready for the next task at hand. Start simple and do only what feels right in your body, do not force yourself to get in a posture that is uncomfortable in a painful way.
To the left is a simple yoga flow that gets the blood flowing first thing in the morning or anytime you need to step away from your desk and shake it out.
Find movements that works for your body and physical limits or start with a brisk walk around the neighborhood, anything that gets the blood flowing!
In college I had a creative writing teacher who assigned us the task to buy a journal the first day of class and to carry it with us at all times throughout the semester. We were tasked to grab our journal whenever we felt inspired, saw something interesting, heard anything intriguing or wanted to remember something. This was an eye opening experience for me and I continue to carry a journal with me over a decade later. Sometimes I free write, write a gratitude list, use it as a diary, write my to do list or write out a stream of consciousness. Every day looks different but the important thing is that I write. If you are uncomfortable with a free write journal, I highly suggest The Five Minute Journal or similar journals that include prompts. I like this specific journal because it prompts you in the morning to set your day up for success and offers reflection every evening on how you can be accountable for your day and the others moving forward. It is also set up for six months of journaling so it easily becomes a habit! I keep one of each, a prompting journal and a free journal and switch between the two as inspired.
Every single day I strive to make something with my hands! So it kind of makes sense that I started a handmade helmet company right? If I am not working on a helmet I make sure to do a little doodling, drawing or sketching in my journal. I like to buy sketchpads/journals without lines for extended freedom for creativity. Sometimes when I am feeling uninspired it helps to shake up my brain pathways and creating something out of nothing really works for me. Try it! Try not to judge yourself or overthink, just let what wants to come out naturally appear, you may be surprised what you create or how therapeutic creating can be.
When I have the extra time or need additional release and inspiration to make the most of the moment, I like to do some of the following;
Climb a tree - When I need to feel instantly connected to the world around me I find a tree to hug or climb. I immediately remember how small I am on the scale of life and that charges me. Also tapping into my childhood playfulness brings awareness to the present moment and beauty in the world.
Grounding - Whenever I get the chance, I walk around barefoot and let the ground charge me. Electrical charges from the earth have been proven to have positive effects on the human body emotionally, physically and spiritually.
Go outside - I like to take phone calls, conference calls and/or breaks outdoors. Even a quick walk around the block tends to break up the monotony of the day and brings awareness to the now.
Get upside down - Shoulder stands, handstands, headstands or a simple legs up the wall pose really help switch my perspective and energize me to continue the day with the instant mood up lifting benefits of inversions.
Do something new - When I'm feeling stuck, I like to sign up for a new class, join a meetup or take myself out on a solo dinner date somewhere i've never been. When is the last time you did something for the first time? You never know how you will like something until you try it!
Podcasts - When I have a commute in my future I like to line up an uplifting podcast where I can learn, be inspired or offer a change in perspective. Some of my current favorite podcasts include
I think it is important to build a routine that you can build into your daily life. Start small by adding a few minutes a day dedicated to just you. As you become more familiar with that task add another and another until you have a routine that is bullet proof for you and your daily life. When an element stops adding value to your life, switch it out with something else. You are always evolving and growing so sometimes something that has worked for years needs to be upgraded as you upgrade!
Remember, you can't fill a cup with an empty vessel, that means the most important person to pay attention to first is YOU. I hope you have found some tools in this post to add to your tool belt of self love and mindful living. Here's to filling your cup first.