My 5 Favorite Self-Care Practices For When Life Gets Icky

As far as self-care goes, it’s been a rough month for me. My temporary job ended unexpectedly, without warning, two months before the agreed end date. So, at the beginning of June I frantically jumped back into the job hunting game and it’s been an emotional whirlwind, to say the least. I’ve gone from regretting my degree and ultimately, my whole career path, to sudden bursts of energy at the call for an interview, only to receive a “we really liked you, but chose someone with a little more experience. We will keep you in mind”. As thoughtful as the gesture may be, that response can be maddening.

 

To be honest I haven’t done the best job at taking care of myself during this moment of my life, and it’s been bad for more aspects of my life than one. But when I have taken the time to slow down and check in with myself, it’s made a world of difference for my mental and physical wellbeing and ultimately, for my situation and relationships. If you find yourself in similar mindsets or situations, try these 5 self-care practices below that always help me.

 

 

Clear Your Calendar

If you’re anything like me, you might overcommit sometimes to people and events without considering what you need, or thinking about your schedule. I had to learn to get comfortable with not telling people yes right away, and here’s what I’ve learned: they appreciate it more than a false yes, and it makes you feel better in the end. Instead of saying yes right away, or even maybe, just say that you aren’t sure what you have going on yet, and you’ll let them know. That way, the ball is in your court and they are already expecting that you might not come. On the same note, if you have already committed to something and need to sit this one out, please do that. You are in charge of your schedule, and you are the only person that can manage your wellbeing. No event or person is worth compromising that for.

 

 

Treat Yourself

I have found that certain treats or “extras” go a long way in boosting my mood and overall mental state. For me, this can be a good beer at the end of a long day or an ice cream cone from McDonalds. This can be something like getting your nails done, eating a snickers bar or buying flowers for your place. Basically, just a small pick-me-up that can remind you to take a moment to appreciate the little things you love.

 

 

Get Outside

I have always personally felt most peaceful when I’m outside, but studies have shown that nature provides significant improvements to mental health. This interesting article can tell you more sciencey things about it. Something about my bare feet in the grass, listening to the birds talking, and witnessing nature existing, totally uninfluenced – makes me feel like maybe I am okay, after all. Nature reminds me that I am connected to all of its wonder and beauty, and it reminds me that I belong. I recommend taking a short hike, or walking through a trail because I always feel best when I get moving, too.

 

 

Get On A Yoga Mat (I Know – Just Do It)

I just mentioned this, but moving is very important in order to feel good. It isn’t always easy to convince myself to go to the gym, so I usually settle for the air-conditioned space in my bedroom floor where my yoga mat goes. I usually use “Yoga By Adriene” vidoes on YouTube. She has hundreds of different practices recorded and they are very easy to follow and many of them are perfect for beginners. At the end of particularly hard or draining days (and sometimes just because) I love taking my “longer” bedtime routine. I’ll take a long hot shower, wash my face, moisturize, and settle into my sleepiness and then do Adriene’s bedtime yoga practice. It’s about 15 minutes and makes for some DADGUM GOOD sleep.

 

 

Watch A Good Movie

I always love a good movie, but I especially love them when I’m feeling overwhelmed with my own life and situation. That sounds depressing, but I usually finish the movie with a new perspective or a gained insight to my own situation that I hadn’t considered before. Other people’s stories often do that – they can inspire you! (Sometimes I get a good, long sob-cry in and that can help, too LOL) Some of my trusted, tried-and-true movie choices are Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Eat Pray Love, Wild, and The Devil Wears Prada.

 

 

There’s nothing wrong with making yourself a priority, and in fact, if you don’t take care of yourself first, you won’t be able to take care of anything else – that includes your relationships. Everything in our lives stems from our ability to sustain them, and that means we need to be in our best shape. We owe it to ourselves, and our loved ones, to be the best, happiest version of ourselves.

 

I want to know! — What do you do to take care of yourself?

How I Found Self-Love In Stretchy Pants and Vinyasa (Whatever The Heck That Is?!)

I used to think that yoga was something that only really cool, hipster girls did surrounded by plants. I imagined that this kind of girl was totally chill in every sense of the word, and she probably had a long single braid down her back. She drank her coffee, black, at the same time every morning with her record player going in the background. She definitely meditated, even though at the time I only half believed that meditation was something that someone could actually do. Needless to say, I just did not believe that I was “one of those kinds of people”. Yoga wasn’t something I thought I would get anything out of. It wasn’t my “lifestyle”.

14 months ago I went through a break up that flipped my entire world upside down. Blindsided and 110% more emotional than I even knew I was capable of being, I went through some of the loneliest and most confusing days of my entire life. Eventually I was tired of being sad and in an attempt to move forward, I just started doing things. I bought a guitar. I started hanging out with new people. I took my little cousins skating. I fostered a dog. I prayed. I prayed a lot. And one day, I found myself at a yoga studio with a new friend.

It was an hour long class, and it was an easier session with a focus on meditation and stilling the mind. I remember feeling silly and embarrassed as I looked around at everyone else and changed my pose 15 seconds late because I didn’t know what a “vinyasa” was. My body protested against every movement, and I rediscovered my extreme lack of balance that night. Toward the end of the session, we laid on our backs and the instructor talked us through a meditation. Still the mind. Whatever you brought with you tonight, whatever you’ve been carrying, release it now. I let out a deep breath. In that moment I felt like I could loosen my grip on what I had been carrying. Deep Inhale; Deep Exhale. In the stillness of my mind, I felt God show up there. In the quiet between my scattered thoughts, it was as if he said to me, “Here I am, where you always leave me. Come back sometime.”

I started going every week after that. I would go to the studio, to my friend Sarah’s apartment and then to sessions at the local breweries. Yoga wasn’t, and still isn’t, easy for me. I wasn’t flexible, I couldn’t do any crazy poses, and I didn’t know all the yoga words. In those first few months I was existing in a haze of numbness and dull heartbreak. I would show up with my mat and my cheap yoga pants and a deep need to focus on something else. When I got on the mat, when I had to fight against my body and pay attention to my breathing and still my mind – I was doing something that I hadn’t done in so long – I was finally focusing on me. Every single part of me. I was finally giving myself the attention that I deserved from myself. You see, yoga isn’t some hard or complicated exercise – it is simply your body, your breath, and your mind. It is you. Everyone can show up with their body and a pair of stretchy pants and a willingness to learn. A willingness to get to know yourself. That’s all you need.

I think people think that they have to be a certain amount of flexible or athletic or “mindful” to practice yoga. I know I thought that. But I would argue that the more “inexperienced” you are at yoga, the more you will get out of it. Because you will learn the most about your body during that time, and you’ll be forced to face the thoughts your mind generates in idle moments. I am still learning so much from my time on the mat. I am learning to be patient with myself. I am learning when to push and when to be gentle. I can now fully appreciate my body, and better control my mind. I use my time on the mat to talk to God, and to receive His love for me in moments of meditation. I can now proudly say that yoga is not just for hippie girls with plants, yoga is for anyone who wants to know and love themselves better. Thank you for letting me share my heart with you.

…Namaste; Xx,

K