‘Self-Care’ was my word of the year for 2016 and I failed miserably. I had vowed to be less self-critical, more fearless with my heart, and more committed to self-care. I had sworn that I was going to spend last year nurturing myself, heart, body, and soul. I didn’t follow through on those promises to myself at all. Instead, I spent most of year focusing on the fear, the sadness, the disappointment, the anger; overall, just embracing all of the negatives.
Truly, it wasn’t until I took vacation time at the end of December and invested the time back into myself. I slept as late as I needed, ate whatever I wanted, and indulged every whim I had for 10 straight days. I made no apologies for taking a 1-hour bath, sitting quietly to read under my own blanket while insisting my lap remain dog-free, coloring or cutting my hair, shopping, or starting new craft projects. I did it because I felt it on my heart to do it and my husband encouraged my indulgences.
It was heaven and I sit here tonight writing this to you my heart is as light as it has felt for months. My husband and I feel closer than ever, I feel a peace in my soul, and I’m comforted going in to 2017. Investing a bit of your free time back into yourself is so essential and never has that been more clear to me than right this moment.
7 self-care habits to begin cultivating in your life
You don’t necessarily have to begin all of these at once, just do what reasonably fits in to your schedule. Some of these only take a few moments while others require a bit more time and isolation.
Make sleep a priority
Every night since I’ve been on vacation I slept a minimum of 8 hours (which was easy to do because I just bought this fabulously plush bedding from Lush Decor). Some nights it meant leaving dirty dishes or laundry undone in order to get in bed on time. I stressed at first then eventually just accepted that it would be there in the morning and getting sleep was important. I told my husband not to wake me when he got up unless my alarm had already gone off.
It was a bit weird for me at first because I’m used to either getting up for work or sleeping as long as I wanted. It felt weird to be up at 7am even on the weekend (I know mom’s will roll their eyes because 7am is sleeping in but I’m not a mom so…). Regardless of your parenthood situation, prioritize sleep. It’ll do wonders for your mentality, energy, personality, and skin.
Invest time in being spiritual
Obviously, as a Christian this means that I’m spending my time in prayer or in devotion with God but I encourage everyone to relate spiritually as they see fit to nurture their own souls. It may be something as simple as watching the sunrise and feeling connected with the Earth or something that centers you on your own soul and state of being. I don’t believe that you have to be a Christian and know God to be spiritual. I think that spirituality, in any form, is healthy for the soul.
Dedicate at least 15 – 60 minutes per day to spiritual growth whether it be in prayer, devotion, meditation, yoga, or other behavior. Feed your soul daily to feel more at peace during the day.
Read at least 15 minutes
You can adjust the ’15 minutes’ timeline as you see fit for your schedule but definitely find time to read at least a little bit every day. I’ve found that 15 minutes is about the average for me to get through 1 – 2 chapters in a book I’m reading so that time limit works for me. Recently, I’ve been reading through A Modern Girl’s Guide to Bible Study by Jen Hatmaker and loving it! This is one of those rare “Modern Girl” books that actually gets it. I’m completely hooked on it for my first 15 minutes in the morning. Just a cup of coffee, my book, and 15 minutes of solitude to read has been heaven.
Also, it has to be reading so I am not counting audio books. I’m suggesting that you need to invest time to words on paper, read quietly, to enjoy and savor in the moment. (BTW…you can check here for more of my favorite reads).
Make time for skin care
I invested in a bit of new skincare products at the end of 2016. I didn’t want to over-indulge since we were just coming off of Christmas spending but I did want to get started a decent regime so I picked up a pure clay exfoliating mask, Aveeno night cream, and Aveeno toner. After only a few days I noticed such a renewed brightness to my face which has encouraged me to wear less make-up.
There’s a special and unique feeling that goes with knowing that you’ve truly cared for the temple of your body. The mask took the longest amount of time but truly, it’s only 15 minutes and you can do other things while it’s drying.
I wrote a post recently when I partnered with Spire how about how to use their activity tracker to be more mindful each day. I have used my Spire tracker every day since to track my activity level, my breathing patterns, and my focus. It has done a lot to remind me to stay present in the moment, remaining focused during tense moments, and to move when I’ve been sedentary for too long.
Being so aware of your mental state throughout the day is transformative. My Spire tracker has done so much for increasing my awareness of my stress triggers and exercises to calm down.
Love and care for your body
Define this as you wish in a way that cares for your body and encourages good health. For me, it’s meant drinking more water, eating more fruit, and prioritizing breakfast so I stay fuller for longer and eat less at dinner. For my husband it has meant returning to the gym and working out like he used to back when he ran 6 miles a day. I’ve encouraged him to consider signing up for a 5k in the future to motivate him to keep going, we’ll see if he does it.
I’ve found that drinking more water, eating more fruit, and getting a full night’s rest have all been critical to the improvement I’ve felt lately.
Grant forgiveness and let go
Today is a good day to offer forgiveness and let go of the anger, the hurt, the pain, the sadness, etc and embrace moving forward. Brandon and I have spoken a lot about forgiveness lately and how, ultimately, granting forgiveness provides peace for us, not the person being forgiven. Together, he and I have shared anger, frustration, or sadness we’ve been holding on to lately and bringing our hearts to a place where providing forgiveness was something we felt we were able to do.
It’s a weight lifted off of our shoulders to finally let go of something that has been dragging you down and realizing that you are finally free to move forward without those chains dragging you down.
I think it is the nature of women to prioritize everyone else over ourselves. We prioritize our husbands, our children, our parents, our siblings, our friends, our pets, etc over ourselves when truly, we must care for ourselves as urgently. We deserve to shine as the best possible versions of ourselves and that requires giving ourselves the love and attention we deserve.
What are your favorite self-love habits? How do prioritize caring for yourself? What are your favorite indulgences?