Sometimes in the chaos of our lives we lose ourselves – we become an employee, parent, sibling, carer, and forget to focus on who we are and what we need. We all need self-compassion and time to look after our body and mind, and the practices we discuss in this article often target both at the same time.
Time with Yourself
Meditation or controlled breathing for ten-to-fifteen minutes daily can clear your mind, relieve muscle tension and relax you at the beginning or the end of the day. It can prepare your body and mind for work, sleep, a busy weekend, etc. Meditation goes hand-in-hand with self-care. Whilst you meditate or practice breathing, why not do a face mask, foot spa, or have a bath (before the meditation, we don’t want to risk falling asleep in water!).
Remember what you owe your body, what it goes through to get you through each day, and how we want it to continue to do so. Self-care can be as simple as buying your favourite snacks and watching your favourite show on Netflix, or can be as productive as working on your mind and emotions through Inner Calm’s “Pathways”, which has resources to tackle Stress, The Past, Self-Esteem, and more.
Being with Others
By nourishing our relationships with others, we continue to feed our minds by learning new things, sharing opinions and broadening our horizons. Different people in our lives provide different support and nourishment. Our families, blood or chosen, support us through our most trying times, care for us when we can’t, and give advice. Friends give us alternative perspectives, can help ground us, and cheer us up. Romantic partners provide us with passion, companionship, and a deep connection we don’t share with anyone else.
Socialising with loved ones doesn’t always have to be alcohol centred. Alcohol can be enjoyable when consumed within reason, but if we are struggling emotionally or physically, it often leads to us feeling worse than when we started. Other ideas for socialising include coffee dates, meals at a nice restaurant, or having a day out at a theme park, zoo, or the beach.
We don’t have to run a marathon to look after our body, but exercise is a proven way to aid in the production of dopamine and serotonin (the happy chemicals) within our body. At least half an hour of any form of exercise a day will significantly help in taking care of your mind and body. Exercise takes our mind off the monotony and stresses of life, and improves the relationship we have with our bodies.
Yoga is an excellent way to combine mind and body exercise, and short or long tutorials are abundant on YouTube, from beginner to expert levels. Going for a walk outside also allows us to get in touch with nature and observe the beauty of the simplest things – a raindrop on a flower petal, waves of warm air on your face – all of this stimulates our senses as well as invigorating our bodies.
For days when any form of exercise is a struggle, performing simple stretches (if possible) can relieve muscle tension, and help us listen to whether our bodies are stiff/ tense/ aching, etc. Googling a list of simple stretches and completing them in an appropriate environment can improve energy levels and give your muscles the gentle exercise they require.
Respect and Reflect
It’s extremely beneficial for peace of mind and shared compassion to treat others with the respect you believe you also deserve. As cliché as it is, treating others how you would like to be treated can prevent confrontation and develop relationships. Everyone deserves respect and compassion, just like we do, and our lives and minds become richer with the more compassion we share. Respect the boundaries other people put in place, as we would like ours to be respected.
It’s also beneficial to reflect on how we interact with others, and how we deal with situations. Reflecting through the medium of journalling or notes can help build our empathy and learn from previous interactions. Another fantastic way to track your emotions is to use the “Check In” resource on Inner Calm – this provides a chart that correlates how we have been feeling over several months, to detect patterns and assess our general mood. How can we improve similar situations in the future, keeping in mind compassion and empathy?
Treating ourselves and others with compassion and respect can transform our relationships, and our connections with our mind and body. Ensure you are setting aside time during the week to work on yourself and encourage positive relationships with loved ones, since these interconnect. Writing down our thoughts and feelings about ourselves and others can be invaluable for reflection, and to remind ourselves of the positives. Record-keeping, socialisation, and exercise will all aid in our self-development and understanding of ourselves and other people.