If there’s something we can all agree on, it would be that this year has been full of mental, emotional and spiritual challenges for most of us. A major positive aspect to have come from this, is that self-care seems no longer to be an elusive topic. Out of necessity rather, it appears that self-care is rising to the forefront as being a non-negotiable element of a healthy lifestyle.
It’s the time to question our limiting beliefs or conditioned patterns which consider self-care as too self-indulgent, hedonistic, or *insert your own word here.* When we feel happy and at peace within ourselves – our love and care can more easily flows out towards others. We see a bigger picture of the world, and our special place within it.
Besides, even from the viewpoint of productivity; we’ll always be most effective and inspired when we’re feeling good. Who can ever make clear or healthy decisions when they’re drained and worn out? In the same way that we would tend our gardens, families and homes with love and consideration, the same has to be applied (to the same extent!) to ourselves. Thankfully, there’s a lot of literature around this, so we’ve provided some key ideas below.
You might have guessed it, but our first pick is yoga. Yoga’s holistic approach to wellness involves an intertwining of our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual layers. Any yoga practice will include elements of meditation, mindfulness and movement. On a core level, yoga:
- Improves physical strength and flexibility
- Lowers inflammation
- Improves sleep
- Benefits cardiovascular function
- Reduces stress
But ask any yogi and they’ll explain it does so much more. When we see others twisted into pretzel shapes or full splits – it can be daunting. Yet, yoga is for everyone at every level. Trust us!
This is absolutely one of the most effective tips for self-care. Going tech-free for a day, weekend (or even a week!?) will work wonders for your self-care practice.
In terms of your everyday: a profound difference will arise from simply making sure that your phone is not the first, or last thing you look at in your day. Waking and naturally taking in our surroundings is a much healthier option for our brains, than immediately wiring into our phones and breaking news. The jarring influx of stimulation creates a sense of urgency which will inevitably trickle into our days. It’s best to avoid blue light before bedtime, so opt for a book or your thoughts instead! Try this out for a couple of days, we promise the effects are almost immediate.
Acupuncture is a component of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which involves the insertion of tiny needles into the skin at specific points of the body’s meridians. This practice seeks to balance flow of energy through the body. Its benefits include:
- Lowered stress
- Acute pain relief
- Long-term pain relief
- Reduction of menstrual pain
- Strengthening of vital organ functions
- Hormone balancing
I can personally vouch for acupuncture and TCM, which drastically improved my asthma! Finding your own trusted practitioner, might just be one of the best things you do on your self-care journey.
Shinrin-yoku or ‘forest bathing’ was developed in Japan in the 1980s, as a way of reconnecting to the earth. This practice is essentially an intentional walk through nature. We’ve perhaps experienced the intangible benefits of a healthy dose of bush time, but even on a scientific level its benefits include:
- Improved focus
- Stress reduction
- An immunity boost
- Cardiovascular improvements
According to the Shinrin-Yoku institute, all you have to do is: ‘go to a forest. Walk slowly. Breathe. Open all your senses.’ This is referred to as ‘the medicine of simply being in the forest.’ So… you know what to do! Take a trip into nature: relax, explore, listen, touch and unwind. Plus if your lost for spots, we have a great suggestion.
We’ve often spoken about the benefits of inner silence and meditation, so we’ll keep it short. Meditation is essentially the practice of being. It’s really that simple. This simple yet profound ancient practice turns our awareness inwards, into ourselves. The ultimate act of self-care! The goals of meditation can sometimes be incorrectly perceived as ‘clearing the mind,’ but rather it is the act of being present, allowing and finding acceptance for the mind. Some of its benefits include:
- Improvements of memory retention
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Improved digestion
- Heightened focus
- Higher energy levels
Connect with others
We might not have ever thought to measure it… but social connection creates a positive feedback loop of social, emotional and physical well-being. Humans are after all, a social species; so the opposite feels quite unnatural.
One key study even showed that a lack of social connectivity is a larger detriment to our health than smoking, high blood pressure or obesity. Social connection is something we could all probably use a little more of, especially given the last few months. It is a beautiful, powerful and necessary part of anyone’s self-care journey.
Do what feels good to you
The above are all some tips and gateways into self-care, but ultimately – you might have the best answers for yourself. Lean into whatever warms you up inside and makes you feel alive. This could be simply brewing a specific pot of tea, taking the dog out on a long walk, or even doing nothing at all (a personal favourite!).
If there are any sounds, songs, smells, colours or environments that you know always elevate your mood: make time for at least one of them, everyday. Self-care isn’t a one-size-fits-all, it’s a beautiful journey that we’re all on.
Have you heard the news? We’re back! And if you hadn’t noticed… many of the suggestions in this article can be found at Happy Buddha. We would love to have you for yoga, delicious organic meals, meditation and most of all: CONNECTION. We can’t wait to see you again.
Nisha is a freelance writer and Vedic astrologer, based in the magical Byron Hinterlands. As well as running her candle business, her life and loves involve: yoga, gardening and all things esoteric. You’ll find her out in nature, or curled up at home with a good book. Happy Buddha is one of her most treasured places on earth (and indeed where she met her fiancé!).