by Itzel Ballew of Well-Mamas Counseling, LMFT
A compassionate self-care practice begins from a place of intention and mindfulness. You can’t pour from an empty cup right? So when you are overwhelmed, stressed and exhausted, this means you have to pause and figure out ways to care for yourself. Self-care is about caring for your mind, body and soul. Here are some tips to help you get started in this practice.
There are many ways to care for your mind. Being intentional about these practices can help clarify what matters. Stimulating your mind is important to your health and can be done through learning something new. Here are some self-care practices that might be new to you:
Positive self-affirmations. Affirmations can help you feel better about yourself or a situation.
Creating a gratitude list. Gratitude can help shift the way you perceive the world around you and increase positive emotions.
See a therapist. Take an hour to completely focus on you, explore yourself, go deeper into your current thoughts and emotions.
Listen to your body. This requires you to take a moment and pause and reflect. Change and transitions can be hard on the body. What is your body trying to tell you? Do you notice a decrease in energy, tightness, or soreness? Are you feeling sluggish? Has your body recovered from an event/accident/birth? Bringing awareness can help you identify the nourishment your body needs. Here are some ways to relieve body level stress/tension.
Breathe. We do this everyday yet when we feel overwhelmed we forget how crucial it is to breathe deeply. Try this 4 count breathing exercise. Breathe in to the count of 4, hold your breathe for the count of 4 and breathe out counting to 4.
Cry, yes, cry. It alleviates stress, increases oxytocin (better known as the “feel good/love hormone”)and can increase a sense of calmness.
A gentle stretch, a movement class, perhaps getting more sunshine, drinking more water or better eating habits can all be ways to incorporate better physical self-care.
Our heart and soul craves human connection. It is a powerful force in our lives. Stay connected, make phone calls or video calls to engage in meaningful conversation and grow relationships. Caring for your soul can also look like turning inward and healing inner wounds.
Connect with a greater consciousness. Whatever this may look like for you (prayer, mantras, etc.) allow time to center and ground yourself daily.
Reach out to a friend or family member you have been thinking about and share about your day or a fun memory.
Self-Reflection exercises. Like journaling or having a daily gratitude practice can nourish your soul and reenergize you.