At this time of year, we all need a little reminder to practice good self-care routines. But, so often I hear from women, and have experienced myself, that even though we have good intentions, we can't seem to find the time to put them into practice on a regular basis. One reason is because we tend to think that taking care of our own needs will take up a large portion of our time. We are stretched in so many ways today that even the thought of adding one more thing to our schedule, even if it is something that is enjoyable or relaxing, seems overwhelming and unmanageable.
It doesn't have to be that way, though. Self-care doesn't have to take a lot of time. Sure, it's great to spend a day at the spa or carve out a few hours in the evening for a relaxing mineral soak in the tub. But there are many more rituals and techniques that we can add to our self-care toolbox that can be done with a minimal amount of time and effort.
I propose creating a 10 Minute Nurture Pause that you can use at least once a day, and perhaps even more often. It can give you a chance to physically, mentally and emotionally shift into a calmer, more relaxed and focused space, which can have long-lasting positive effects on your mood and health, especially if you create the intention to use this practice long term.
Here are a few ideas of what you might include in your ritual:
A cup of herbal tea -
Setting a cup of tea to steep at the beginning of your 10 minutes can give you time to go through the rest of your ritual and come back to enjoy your tea at the end. Depending on your needs for the day, your choice of tea could be something relaxing such as Chamomile or Passionflower, or something stimulating such as Rosemary or Holy Basil.
Deep breathing -
There are many different breathing techniques that can be explored to assist you in your self-care routine. From breathing light into any area of your body where you are feeling pain or discomfort, to focusing on your breath as you practice belly breathing, to specific techniques such as Progressive Relaxation breathing, Bellows Breath, or Sudarshan kriya, practicing breathing exercises can not only relieve stress and restore calm and balance, but also improve the functioning of the immune and nervous systems.
A really easy way to use aromatherapy simply and effectively is to keep a diffuser in your house or on your desk at work. When you are pausing your day to practice your self-care routine, it takes just a moment to turn it on and fill your space with a lovely, healthy aroma. Again, depending on your needs for that day, you might choose a relaxing, stress-relieving oil such as Lavender, or an energizing oil like Peppermint or Lemon.
Being Present -
“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
Practicing presence exercises is an amazingly effective way to help us shift from stress or overwhelm to a state of peace and contentedness. Being present, or practicing mindfulness, can help clear the mind, bring a sense of gratitude, build inner peace, unleash creativity, and improve physical, mental and emotional health. A simple mindfulness exercise is called Using Your Senses. To practice this exercise, take a moment to consciously pay attention to the world around you through all your senses. What do you see? What do you hear? What can you smell, taste or feel in this moment?
Walk outside -
Just stepping outside can change our mood, clear our mind and enable us to look at things with a fresh perspective. Additionally, even a short, brisk walk on a regular basis can improve circulation, lower blood pressure, aid in weight loss and enhance immune function.
Which of these ideas resonate with you? Which ones will you include in your 10-Minute Nurture Pause? What other ideas do you have for creating your own ritual of self-care?