Place your hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Gently close your eyes and take a deep, full breath.
For this minute, let go of whatever feels heavy. Give it time and everything will fall into place. You have been amazingly strong doing hard things. The most interesting and resilient souls are the ones who have been through thunderstorms and came out of it still smiling while saying, “Come at me.”
Like the inward and outward movement of ocean tides, life is full of ebbs and flows. There are moments when life easily flows, but also times of ebbs when life is precarious.
When life gets difficult, I hope you allow yourself to rest and take time to heal. I am sending you a gentle reminder that you deserve to be enveloped with love and warmth. You deserve time to take care of yourself. Let’s stop wearing burnout and being overworked as a badge of honor.
When my soul is drained and needs rest, below is the self-care routine that helps me fill my empty cup.
Our body is made to move. On a work day, blast Up, Up and Away by Kid Cudi on your headphones and dance before driving to work. If you can carve out ample time, doing a quick yoga flow, a 30-minute cardio at home, or cleaning a room in your house can give you a boost of endorphins that can trigger that positive feeling in your body.
I think we all have at least five minutes to spare. Doing five jumping jacks, taking a walk in the nearby park, or doing a quick body stretch can make all the difference—start with five minutes and see how you feel.
2. Nourish yourself
There is a direct correlation between physical and mental illness and our gut. When there is distress in our gut, it also causes disturbance in our brain. The brain and the gastrointestinal system are intimately connected. Hence, the fresher and more colorful your foods are, the happier your brain will be. Of course, also allow yourself to treat yourself once in a while. One of my favorite activities is pretending I’m on a cooking show in my own kitchen.
3. Be still
We are always distracted by social media, by news about the pandemic, or by the busyness of our lives. When you wake up and everything is still quiet, let the first five minutes of your day be dedicated to you. If the first thing you do when you wake up is to check and answer your emails, your messages, or your social media, it’s you attending to other people’s needs. Instead, start with three deep inhales through your nose and three abdominal exhales; just focus on your breathing. How you start your morning can dictate how the rest of your day transpires.
4. Create a spa night
Create your own spa night at home. Light your favorite candles, play your favorite music, and take out all those free samples from Sephora. When you’re washing your face, take your time with it and feel the water against your skin. As the water cleanses your face, visualize that the water is also cleansing all the troubles of the day. As you moisturize your skin, look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself how beautiful and amazing you are. Commend yourself for how strong you have been during this pandemic. Wear your comfiest pajama and put a face mask on. Watch a feel-good movie or read a book that you can get lost in.
5. Write and brain dump
Write down all those thoughts running around in your head. Grab a notebook and do a brain dump of everything that’s been bothering you. Writing can be therapeutic, and it can be a way to let it all go without anyone judging you. Sometimes, we get so caught up in our head that we don’t even realize that the answer is right in front of us. Writing can help us clear mental space so we can make room for important decisions we have to make in life. Get it off your chest and start writing all your troubles away.
Close your eyes and visualize yourself as a kid, playing without any worry in the world. What were you doing when you felt the happiest? Were you playing board games, sketching and painting, playing an instrument, building things, or having a movie night with popcorn? Find the time to do more of that. Create, play, and do things that excite you. Life doesn’t have to be serious all the time. Be present and allow yourself to enjoy the time you have here. Life is short, so might as well enjoy it.
Solitary confinement is considered one of the worst punishments you can do to a human being. Studies have shown how decreased social interaction can increase our risk for anxiety, depression, loneliness, and physical illness. We are social creatures. As the pandemic made it harder to connect physically to our loved ones, we have had to be creative in maintaining that social connection. Watching our friends’ Insta stories or liking their last post is a superficial connection. Talk to someone and actually start a conversation. Instead of saying “I’m fine,” what if you actually said how you are genuinely doing?
“These two threads that run through our life—one pulling us into the world to achieve and make things happen, the other pulling us back from the world to nourish and replenish ourselves—can seem at odds, but in fact they reinforce each other.” – Arianna Huffington
Getting enough sleep is essential to our survival and to maintain homeostasis. Homeostasis is our ability to maintain internal balance despite all the changes in our external world. Sleeping not only affects our moods and how we deal with daily tasks, it also affects how prone we are to physical and mental illness.
9. Write a love letter to yourself
On one of your good days, write yourself a love letter. A letter for you to read when the day is not as bright. A letter that will encourage you to continue fighting, to keep going even when all the bones in your body are aching. A letter that will remind your heart to be gentle with itself and hold yourself with love and compassion. Because when the bad days come, you’ll need a loving reminder that whatever happens, in the end, you will always be okay.
“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.” – Dolly Parton