You have this one body. One mind. One life. You know this, of course. But you might forget sometimes, especially on the days when all you’re doing is running around, tending to other things, tending to others’ needs and putting out fires.
But we don’t have to go far to take good care of our bodies, our minds, our lives. As Albert Schweitzer said, “Every patient carries her or his own doctor inside.”
This quote is included in the book Self-Care for Life: Find Joy, Peace, Serenity, Vitality, Sensuality, Abundance & Enlightenment — Each and Every Day, written by Skye Alexander, Meera Lester and Carolyn Dean, MD, ND. In it they share almost 1,100 tips for taking care of ourselves.
Here are nine to try today or this week:
- Pay attention to what your body is trying to say. Our bodies react to our thoughts and emotions. Our physical sensations can be clues into how we’re feeling mentally, emotionally and spiritually.As the authors write, “Is someone giving you a ‘pain in the neck’? Is something ‘eating at you’?” Take the time to “listen to your body talk.”
- Observe a flower. We spend a lot of time doing, instead of being. Today, just be for a minute or so. Do this by observing a flower. Look at its color, petals and composition. Breathe in its fragrance. As the authors write, “Notice how appreciating natural beauty calms your mind and emotions.”
- Explore a word. Ground yourself by picking one word to recite to yourself. This might be anything from “peace” to “contentment.” Close your eyes, and see the word in your mind’s eye. Contemplate the word’s meaning. If other thoughts arise, gently refocus your attention on your word.
- Create a wish book. In this book, start writing your wishes. What do you wish for in your career? What do you wish for health-wise and in your relationships? Then write down how you’re going to make each wish happen. Reread your wish book daily.
- Move and marvel at your body. Stretch your arms over your head. Wiggle your toes. Pick something up from the floor. “Observe the amazing interaction between your muscles, nerves, joints and tendons, and how they allow you to perform these movements. Marvel at the amazing composition your body is,” write the authors.
- Write a story about your stress. Imagine you’re a reporter writing a story about your stress. “Describe the situation, the people involved and the other factors that play a role in the story.”Seeing your stressors on paper — literally in black and white — helps you better understand them. It also helps you brainstorm possible solutions.
Also, as the authors note, remember that some stressors can become just the opposite. For instance, your child has a cold, leading you to miss a day of work. But you end up spending quality time together.
- Take on a long-term project. Doing a long-term project anchors us in the here and now. Each step also teaches us something about ourselves. The authors suggest everything from making a quilt to planting a garden to writing a book.(I wrote about a year-long self-care project on Weightless, which you might like to try.)
- Write a mission statement. According to the authors, “Create a personal mission statement that describes your vision and goals — it will help keep you on track when challenges crop up.” Not only does this help you move in the right direction, but it helps you move through your days with intention.
- Move mental baggage. This exercise helps you ease overwhelm and overload. According to the authors: “Close your eyes and imagine your mind is an overstuffed closet. Envision yourself taking some large suitcases and packing them with all the stuff you no longer need. When you’ve emptied the closet of junk, take the suitcases to the train station and put them on a railroad car.” Then feel the relief of getting rid of all this baggage.
Pick a few strategies that resonate with you. Or use this list to brainstorm other ideas. Whatever activities you do, remember this about self-care, which is included in Self-Care for Life: self-care is “a commitment you make to yourself each and every day.”
What kind of commitment would you like to make?