When life gets busy, overwhelming, uncertain, worrisome, and/or stressful, taking care of ourselves is often the first thing to go.
I know this feeling well.
When I am in this place, I am quick to skip on sleep, ignore outdoor time, and pass up opportunities to relax, even if just for a few breaths.
You’ll be surprised to hear that I’m also not so fun to be around.
I’m super snarky and holier-than-thou with my husband - “When I do the dishes I like to make sure I clean up around the sink too, just like this” - as I helpfully show him how to move a sponge across a counter
I’m yelling at the kids.... for being children
I'm rushing around chaotically making lists about all the things I need to do
My internal dialogue quickly turns wildly unhelpful and unsupportive
When you notice that you 'need a little pick me up’ (in a non-illegal-Kit-from-Pretty-Woman kind of way), or you’re feeling rattled, on edge, worried, anxious and/or stressed, take it as a note to yourself that you need to check in.
It’s as simple as pausing to asking yourself, “How am I doing? What do I need in this moment?”
But we skip it, because we didn't think of it, and even if we did.... who has time for that??
We need to make time to reconnect back to ourselves.
The list below includes the type of things we can all be doing regularly.
Even if things are going spectacularly well, or at least you're not significantly struggling, or in deep pain right now.
Build up your mental strength and resilience through consistent self-care, attention and compassion, and these qualities will be more readily available to you when you really need them.
"The time to build the roof is when the sun is shining. But if it’s cloudy or even pouring down rain, there’s no time like the present!" (That’s like 3 different quotes smooshed into 1… but you get the idea).
Top 5 No Cost Self-Therapy Tips
#1 Step outside
“The antidote to exhaustion isn’t rest, it’s nature” -Shikoba
Spending time outdoors greatly enhances well-being, reduces stress, and can lead to higher levels of health and happiness.
So, in the words of every mother everywhere, “Get Outside!”
* Step away from your desk and take a 5 minute walk around the block.
* Grab a blanket, a cup of tea, and read a book on the porch
* Refresh your outdoor space - start with getting the 1,000 dead branches and leaves out of your yard - make it a family affair and drag the kids in too! Then play a game with them outside ;)
* Start a garden - but do not ask me for help because I cannot grow a single thing
* Take a drive with the windows down
* Go for a hike or nature walk
* (Carefully…) Take the bike out for a spin around the block
Soak up the benefits.
"Being aware of your breath forces you into the present moment - the key to all inner transformation" - Eckhart Tolle
Even a single conscious breath has the incredible power to:
* Anchor you to the present moment
* Enhance body awareness
* Reduce anxious thoughts and feelings by getting you out of your head and bringing the attention into your body
* Connect your body and mind so you are closer in touch with emotions and sensations
* Purposely bring on calm and relaxation
* Help you intentionally respond rather than habitually react
* Even the space of a single breath can provide a much needed pause to consider a different way forward
* Reaffirm that you are in control of your thoughts, feelings and physical body
And so, we take it one single, conscious breath at a time.
Eventually we begin to string mindful breaths together so they become 2 and then 3, and maybe 5 or 6+ in a row.
We keep coming back, consistently and without judgment.
THIS is how you build mindful attention, and encourage calm and ease in your body.
Creating physical ease tells your mind everything is ok; you can relax, you can soften.
This is the kind of practice we need more of in our everyday lives.
It takes almost no time, you can do it anywhere, it's free, it's incredibly efficient, serves a deeper purpose and is ALWAYS available to you.
Think of how you feel after a great workout - or a brisk walk around the block, or a tough ride on your Peloton.
You're energized. Bright. Strong. Clear. Proud.
What do you think might change if you brought more of that into your life?
Move your body.
Every. Single. Day.
Movement enhances mental health, improves your mood, keeps your bones, muscles, heart, and other vital organs working efficiently, increases productivity, enhances mental health, and so much more.
Importantly, move to enjoy being in your body, not to change it.
PS! It doesn’t need to be an hour-long grueling workout or a formal exercise class.
Start with a 5 minute stretch, go up and down the stairs in your house x 2, or get up from your desk and take a stretch break every hour. Small successes = Big Wins.
#4 Loving Kindness Meditation
Loving Kindness (or Metta Meditation) is a beautiful style of meditation designed to cultivate kindness toward yourself and others.
Try a Loving Kindness Meditation if:
* You are struggling with self-love and compassion
* You want to touch inner kindness
* You want to feel more connected to the world around you
* You want to soften difficult feelings toward someone
* You are a living human being with thoughts and emotions
It’s also a great place to start a meditation practice with easy to follow and repetitive phrases; often some variation of May you be happy, may you be safe and free from worry, may you be healthy, may you live your life with ease.
Research-based benefits of this practice include:
* More positive emotions
* Decreased self-criticism
* Increased resilience
* Reduced physical pain symptoms
* Strengthens empathy and compassion
* Enhances feelings of connectedness
# 5 Journaling
“Journal writing, when it becomes a ritual for transformation, is not only life-changing but life-expanding” – Jen Williamson
You knew this one was coming ;)
One of the most inwardly connecting and care-full practices I know of is a daily journaling practice.
It's centering, provides focus, brings attention to thoughts so we can help work out and understand what's going on - from the inside out.
This time each morning is probably the most productive of my whole day, helping me find clarity, intention, gratitude and purpose in the hours that follow.
And when I am doing it regularly, I’m far more in touch, connected and aware.
And all the external stuff doesn't have as much pull on me, and I am not as swayed by sub-par dish doing, traffic for no reason, hectic days and people not home in time for the dinner I prepared, that I’m now eating four servings of.
This practice is the BEST thing I’ve done for my mental health and overall well-being. It is time very well spent.
I hope you try some (all!) of these no-cost self-therapy tips.
The more consistently you do them, the more you will see the benefits of these practices in your life.
While my five no-cost, minimal-time self-therapy tips are great in a pinch and for practical, everyday application, there are times when we need to invest more in our health and well-being.
If you want to take this concept further and find your unique purpose, Life… On Purpose is for you.
This 10-week group coaching experience takes a deeper dive into self-care, growth, intention and living a meaningful life with like-minded women who are looking to reclaim their worth, purpose and confidence.
You might be saying you don’t have the time, but we know we can't pour from an empty cup....
Enjoy the day friends.
**Important note: Self-therapy can be an effective way to stay calm, present, and focused in your day to day life, but it is in no way a replacement for formal therapy. Help is available in many different forms, including via this list of online free therapy ideas.