“Self-care is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation.” - Audre Lorde
The good news is self-care doesn’t have to be time-consuming, overwhelming, or expensive.
Here are my top seven self-care tips even those with the busiest life can incorporate; some of them can be completed in just minutes!
1. Begin with your breath
Build in a one-minute breath practice. Start NOW: close your eyes, take a deep breath in, pause for three seconds, slowly exhale, repeat a few more times. Do you feel the tension fade away? It’s that simple and effective. It has been scientifically proven that deep breathing reduces stress hormones, lowers blood pressure and improves brain function.
2. Forget multi-tasking
If you are anything like me, then you can talk on the phone, soothe a crying baby and watch that soup on a stove simultaneously. However, when it comes to self-care, it’s imperative that you focus only on one particular exercise at a time. Even five minutes of being fully engaged at one task can go a long way. You might not believe it, but it saves your time and makes your practice more effective.
3. Learn the why behind each self-care practice
For example, when you know why meditation is good for you and how it can positively change your life, you have more incentive to follow through. A recent study by Harvard researchers revealed that meditation can change brain’s grey matter, directly affecting and improving memory, learning abilities, self-awareness, compassion and introspection.
Do a little research!
4. Ask for help
Don’t hesitate to ask your husband, extended family, and friends. Think beyond your direct family and reach out to good neighbours, fellow moms and other community members for help. I am a first-generation immigrant, and I clearly remember the time when I found myself alone with two kids under three and no help (my husband had to prove himself at a new job and worked overtime), feeling isolated and overwhelmed. I’m sure many of you are in the same boat due to various circumstances. Create a support system. It takes a village to raise a child and the bigger your village, the better!
5. Let your children join in
Whatever you have set out to do; a walk in the woods, meditation, yoga, dance, journaling, do it WITH your child if you can’t find alone time! I know it’s better to seize those quiet moments when the kids nap; I used to be the most productive during those hours (and I mean doing things I loved and longed for, not laundry or cooking), but it’s not always possible. And when it’s not, don’t get frustrated or skip your practice, do it with your child. I was amazed to see my four year old son quiet down and concentrate during our yoga practice together, and getting better at it with each day.
6. Start and finish your day with gratitude
First thing in the morning, when you are still in bed, pause for a minute and ask for a blessing on your day in whatever form suits you. I start my morning by reciting a planet’s mantra of the day, which helps me to connect and prepare myself to the energy of that day. In the evening, after everyone has fallen asleep, I gently remind myself of all what happened that day and how it was: pretty good, joyful, or tough... The key is to find goodness in every day and find something that makes you feel good about yourself each day.
7. Be consistent
It takes discipline to achieve anything. Show up for yourself everyday, even if it’s only for one minute. Don’t be hard on yourself: if you miss a day simply start over and continue.
Remember, by taking good care of yourself, you set an example for your children to develop good self-care practices.