For many people the idea of self-care conjures up ideas of bubble baths, a ‘treat yourself’ splurge on something you may not really be able to afford or a decadent treat. While these practices may give you a boost in the moment there is another, possibly a more nourishing self-care that when acted upon can stand to improve the day to day quality of your life.
How many times do you get into your car and think – it’s such a mess I need to clean it – and then never get around to it? How many times do you get into your car in one day?
Each time you get into the car potentially going through the developing internal dialogue around why you still haven’t cleaned it even though it bothers you and what else you have not done.
Whether it’s a car or a cracked phone screen, we all have something that we need to do, that we don’t, that bothers us regularly – perhaps a Spring Self-Care practice could be beginning to address these things.
- Make a list of 21 things that make you happy. These can be tiny things from waking up to a warm house to fresh bed sheets to a good night’s sleep. Reflect on the list and see how many of these things you did today or recently and if the opposite of any of these things is happening instead. Knowing what makes you happy affirms how you care for yourself and making it that bit more conscious adds an extra layer of satisfaction – you know you are doing something that makes you happy and it feels good to make those kinds of choices.
- On another sheet of paper make a list of things that bother you, the niggly things that you have been meaning to do under the heading – Things that I can change. Number them in order of importance and before you do anything else address at least one of them. Not only does this kind of list bring to light if there are things bothering us, it also acknowledges that things bother us which lead to us feeling bothered. Sometimes we are so used to being bothered by something that we become accustomed to the feeling and overlook the cause. For instance, maybe I am used to being bothered in the mornings and I have come to accept that. But perhaps that feeling of bother is in response to the fact I stayed up late again last night or that even though I love breakfast I consistently don’t have time for it and haven’t given it 5 minutes thought to figure out a way to overcome this!
- A digital detox – one morning a week, one day a week or just a one-day trial to see how you feel afterwards. It seems that overnight, social media has morphed from something to connect with people to an aggressive marketing tool. Evocative photos capture our imaginations drawing on our feelings and prompting us to click the link to buy the eyeliner/protein shake/ supplement that will make us beautiful/desired/successful too. As humans we naturally compare ourselves to each other and the impossible standards set by stages and photoshopped images always leave us falling short. Many people look at social media first thing in the morning soon after switching of the alarm and in doing so set the tone for the morning. Let’s face it, having scrolled through 100s of beautiful images of beautiful, happy people in only a few minutes, most people will not find a glowing vision of perfection in the mirror looking back at them at 7am. Yet social media is a part of our lives now, it is enjoyable, it does give us a sense of connection to what’s going on. Therefore, try mini social- breaks, notice how you feel afterwards and if you feel better make a practice of it!
As the spring sun makes a gallant effort to call time on winter, maybe we could channel some of this determination to call time on the little daily habits and practices that bring us down.
Happiness, after all, is a habit – the more we practice happiness the more happy we become.
Maggie May O’Callaghan is a psychotherapist and yoga instructor. She is passionate about breath work and meditation, particularly as they relate to supporting positive mental health. Key to Maggie May’s approach is a focus on connection, not only with one’s body and mind but perhaps most importantly with the people around us.