So many of us spend virtually every waking moment in service to others –kids, spouses, bosses, friends, pets. But, while service to others can be immensely gratifying, it’s even more rewarding when you can learn to feed your own soul at the same time. By taking care for yourself, you teach others to do so (and vice versa). But it can take some discipline to establish a habit of self-care. Here are some things you might try to get started. Each of the below can be done nearly anywhere in as little as 5-10 spare minutes.
Turn off devices and notifications. Each time you answer a call, read or respond to an email or text, you are, in essence, responding to others’ immediate demands for your attention. The simple act of turning off your phone, leaving it home, or at least out of earshot for a short period can be hugely liberating and will free up the time you need to indulge in other tiny, conscious acts of self-care.
Meditate. Meditation is akin to pressing your own reset button, returning to factory defaults or the essential you who is unencumbered by responsibilities, judgments, and expectations. You may have heard meditation described as quieting the mind, which can seem nearly impossible when you have a running litany of things you need to accomplish. But meditation is much simpler than that: just close your eyes and focus on breathing or repeat in your mind a simple mantra such as “I am” or “Just this.” When you notice your mind wandering (and it will), simply – and without self-judgment – return to breath or mantra. Do this everyday for as little as 5-10 minutes and be amazed at how it affects virtually every other aspect of your life.
Learn something new. Perhaps you have always wanted to speak a foreign language, become a whiz at technology, or fantasize about becoming ‘the next Master Chef.’ Make a vow right here and now to take one step each day to realizing your secret dream. The Internet has a tutorial or an app for just about anything you might want to learn, so Google it up and start learning today.
Do something physically restorative, such as stretching, rotating your joints, or lying on the floor and consciously relaxing and releasing all your muscles. Unlike exercise, which is so often driven by desires to appear attractive to others – restorative practices are all about creating physical ease from which only you can benefit.
Shift your perspective dramatically, either by broadening or narrowing from your typical view of the world. Expand, for example, by scrolling through the Instagram feed of a photographer in an exotic foreign land. Or narrow your scope by sensing into the subtlest details of your immediate surroundings – the play of sunlight on plants in your garden, or the slightest quiver of a leaf in the breeze. Much like meditation, such a practice can help you to immediately shed the stresses of external demands and reset to your essential, curious, and most wonderful self.