15 Ways To Practice Self-Care
I’m not into New Year’s resolutions.
I’m just not.
Here’s what I posted on Facebook on New Year’s Eve:
There’s no time like the present to get up, dust yourself off, and decide to change something about your life. A date on the calendar does not give us magical powers or more self-discipline. It really is just another day.
But that one word thing…
I love choosing a word for myself to give me focus and direction in my decision-making, goals, and lifestyle. Last year, my word was acceptance, and I wrote about the 3 Ways I Learned To Accept Myself.
The New Year does seem like a natural time to switch from one word to the next. It’s a pivoting point where I feel like I can lay down, but not forget, last year’s word and challenge myself with something new.
So this year’s word loudly and boldly declares something I’ve never declared before:
I think we mommas judge ourselves and each other
way a little too harshly. The moment we engage in a behavior that manifests as self-care is the moment that all other mothers will look upon us and notice how “selfish” or “self-centered” we are.
The mother who sits on her phone while her kids play at the park is “inattentive” — yet that may be the first minute she’s had all day to check her email or respond to a text from a friend.
The mother with the screaming kid at the theater isn’t “strict enough” — yet what if that’s the first time she’s been out of the house in 2 weeks because she was going stir-crazy herself?
The mother who sits chatting with her friend at the playground is dubbed “irresponsible” when she looks up and her child has wandered off — yet that may be the first adult human contact she’s had all week.
Boy, we’re harsh on each other. We’re even harsher on ourselves.
Which is why 2017’s word is so, so important… It’s time we (ahem, I) focus a little more on taking care of ourselves… filling our own cups… fueling our own fires… and a lot less on worrying about being selfish.
Because here’s the deal: if you’re reading a blog about self-care, chances are you haven’t been giving yourself any, which means you’re anything but selfish!
I’m preaching to the choir here, y’all. There’s nothing I’m recommending in this post that I’m either not already doing or attempting to do in my own life.
A woman who does any of these things is the furthest thing from selfish — indeed, she is sure enough of herself to know that her world comes crumbling down because of her own self-neglect. It is a confident momma — not a selfish momma — who can ask for help, insist on time to herself, expect her family to pitch in, or admit that she doesn’t have it all together.
So here are the 15 ways to practice self-care that I’m either already doing or hoping to do this year.
#1 — Prioritize A Sleep Schedule
Sure, get 8 hours of sleep each night… but did you know that the actual times you’re sleeping and waking can depend on how your body feels? You’re likely to feel more rested and refreshed if you sleep between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. than if you’re sleeping from 12 a.m. to 8 a.m.
Both give you 8 hours of sleep, but one provides much more quality sleep — leaving you more rested and ready for the day!
When I recently updated my iPhone to the new iOS, I discovered the Bedtime feature in the clock app.
This little upgrade has allowed me to prioritize quality and quantity sleep by providing bedtime reminders, accountability through graphs, and a gentle wake-up each morning. I tell it I want 8 hours of sleep each night, and it reminds me to get ready for bed. When my morning alarm goes off, it’s not a blaring siren; it’s a gentle crescendo of soothing sounds. I absolutely LOVE this feature!
The best thing, I discovered, is that it keeps me consistent. At 10:00 every night, it reminds me to go to bed. So I’m no longer tempted to stay awake past 11 or midnight watching Netflix (can I get an amen?) And it slowly and gently wakes me at 6:30 a.m. Everyday. Establishing a sleep schedule improves quality of sleep — who knew?!
If you prefer not to have electronics in your bedroom, here’s a fantastic wake up light that mimics the gentle sunrise and nature sounds of the morning!
Take care of you by not only getting a full night’s rest, but by putting yourself on a consistent schedule so your sleep is maximized!
#2 — Sip Something Soothing
I’ve been on a hot tea kick for months, and I’m going to continue that into 2017.
I’m enjoying all sorts of herbal blends, sometimes from bulk herbs and sometimes from tea bags. It’s such a small thing, but my morning cup of hot tea is seriously becoming essential to functioning. Not for the caffeine, but because it’s such a soothing morning ritual that I truly look forward to every, single day.
I also enjoy several cups of tea throughout the day and always a relaxing cup before bedtime.
- Republic of Tea’s Orange Ginger Mint (my favorite forever and ever amen)
- Positive Energy Sweet Tangerine — no more than 1 cup every morning since it contains caffeine
- Cup of Calm
- Echinacea Plus Elderberry Immune Support
- plain dried peppermint and raspberry leaf
This is one small way I can spoil myself every day and feel a little extra special.
#3 — Daily Movement
It’s a total myth that we can’t exercise outside of a gym in the winter time! I think I’m MORE active in the winter… and hopefully I’ll carry it into summer this year.
Because of where we live, shoveling snow or hauling in firewood are pretty regular occurrences that have the added benefit of being solid cardio workouts. For fun, we’ve been sledding down our backyard hill — about 40 yards of climbing up at a 30-degree angle. Making that climb 3 or 4 times in an afternoon sure is a workout!
I always think I don’t have the motivation to move… until I do it and experience how energized and refreshed it makes me feel!
And I’ve fallen in love with yoga. In fact, the coolest thing I found in 2016 was the Yoga With Adriene YouTube Channel: free, professional yoga videos for beginners! Yoga has been instrumental in helping me deal with high-functioning anxiety and flitting from one thing to the next without getting anything done. I feel so centered and focused after 20 or 30 minutes of yoga that I actually get MORE done and with better intention and focus.
No matter what, I’m committed to daily movement of some sort. And you should be, too! It’s one of the easiest and most rewarding ways to practice self-care.
#4 — Regular Mommy Timeouts
Yup, I said it. I need timeouts… and often. I truly thrive on alone time.
We mommas can get so caught up in allllll the things we *have* to do that we forget that we *have* to take time out for ourselves.
I’m not saying you should slack on taking care of your kids or your job or the laundry or cooking; I’m simply saying that you need to find a time (at least once a week) to have a timeout — a time without kids where you can do what YOU want to do.
I love one-on-one time with like-minded people… so much more than large groups or parties. So a timeout for me is taking an infrared sauna with a friend at least once a week. We have amazing, deep, uninterrupted conversations during our sauna. This time not only heals my body, it invigorates my mind!
Maybe you can go on a brisk walk (or snowshoe where I live) or grab a mug of herbal tea or coffee and drive around a pretty neighborhood in your town.
Reading for pleasure counts, too, and is so much more restful than watching TV.
Whatever you love to do, giving yourself regular mommy timeouts is an amazing way to take care of YOU.
#5 — Simplified Cooking
Oh, how I used to dream of serving my family fancy, 5-course meals…
Then I woke up to reality!
Making nourishing foods is oh-so important to me, but 90% of the time, simplicity wins. If I can’t do it simply, dirtying up as few dishes as possible, quickly, and without tons of ingredients or steps, I’m not going to do it.
I keep my cooking simple in 6 ways:
- I use an Instant Pot almost every day. Actually, I have 2 now. 😉 Here’s why I LOVE my Instant Pots so much. Here are 80 Amazing, Easy, & Healthy Instant Pot Recipes to get you started!
- Only choose simple recipes. Period. If you browse the recipes at All The Nourishing Things, you’ll see that they’re not complicated. What I post on here is what I’m making for my own family. Yummy and nourishing, but verrrrrrrrry simple. (Here are 6 ways to keep your meals simple.)
- I try to prep ahead as much as possible. Washing produce as soon as I get home from the store, browning 2 or 3 pounds of ground beef instead of 1 at a time, doubling a recipe so I have leftovers… Here are 14 ways I’m thinking ahead and saving time.
- Many hands make light work, so I involve my family. My peeps are totally capable of frying eggs for breakfast, making a salad, and chopping veggies. The Hubs is great on the grill and can load the dishwasher while I prep food. He can even follow a recipe of my choosing.
- Let the kids make their own snacks!
- No more fancy desserts… my Nourishing No-Bake Treats eBook is the LAST resource I’ll/you’ll ever need to make allergy-free snacks and desserts for the whole family (no Supermom Degree required).
#6 — Farm Something Out
As I discussed in this post, I can’t do it all… and I’m not going to beat myself up about it anymore.
We homeschooled for the past 6 years, but this year, I just didn’t have the energy or motivation. So we put the peeps in public school — and it’s been so much better than I ever expected! I can focus on my work while they’re at school, and then I can be fully present when they’re at home. We’re still very involved with their education, but the majority of the actual teaching is farmed out to their teachers.
I also hired a housekeeper to come every 2 weeks to deep-clean my house. Best investment ever!
Farming something out reduces my time burden. There are only so many hours in a day or week, and it’s easy for things to pile up until they become overwhelming. So if you can, delegate a task or 2 to someone else. You don’t always have to pay for this either; swapping or bartering services is totally common and acceptable nowadays!
Maybe you enjoy cleaning, but you hate ironing. Can you farm out your ironing? Or your lawn maintenance? Or ???
Maybe you’re a work-at-home mom like me and find yourself swamped with menial tasks (like social media or bookkeeping). Can you find a virtual assistant to handle those tasks for you? Then you can devote your time to more meaningful and profitable tasks!
The sky’s the limit here! The point is that you’re taking care of yourself by NOT trying to carry everything on your own.
#7 — Prioritize Whole Foods For Yourself Every, Single Day
Yes, I’m talking to you, momma.
You deserve to eat nourishing, whole foods every, single day — not your kid’s leftovers, not the cup of coffee you’ve re-microwaved 5 times, not a bag of chips while you run kids all over the place. REAL FOOD.
If it’s important to feed your kids good food, then it’s important to feed yourself good food. And yet, we find ourselves eating on-the-run more than we’d like to admit. Or hey, I’m the first to admit that I’m often tempted to snack at my desk and keep working rather than stop and eat a real lunch — but I resist.
Because I deserve real food — and so do you.
So, here’s what you can do to make this as easy as possible:
- Eat breakfast. It only takes 5 minutes to fry eggs, so there’s no excuse. If you have to run out the door, it takes less than 5 minutes to make a smoothie that you can drink in the car. Don’t skip breakfast ever again. (Check out these super easy and healthy smoothie recipes!)
- Set food aside for yourself after dinner, so at the very least you have leftovers for lunch the next day.
- Salads are easy and fast. Wash your lettuce as soon as you get it home from the store and make yourself some homemade dressing (like my Caesar With No Icky Ingredients or a simple homemade mayo with dried herbs and spices or my Quick Probiotic Ranch). Boil eggs in 5 minutes (here’s how!) and keep them in the fridge. There’s the bones of a good salad — and you can add your favorite salad toppings (like shredded carrots, pumpkin seeds, or sprouts!) to it to make it even better!
- When you’re packing lunch for your kids for school, pack yourself the same thing. Even if you stay at home, put the food on a plate and stick it in the fridge. It’ll be there when you’re ready!
- Keep yogurt in your fridge at all times (save a bundle by making your own!) and you’ll always have a quick and nourishing snack, base for a salad dressing or smoothie, or side dish for breakfast or lunch.
- Leave your desk and sit down at a table to eat. Dedicate that time to just enjoying your food — not trying to do 97 other things while you eat.
#8 — Collagen & Gelatin… Everyday
Speaking of whole foods… one simple way you can get a boost of gut-healing, skin-healing, hair- and nail-strengthening, protein-boosting nutrition is by adding 1 tablespoon of each to your life everyday.
I added a scoop of gelatin to my morning cup of tea (see above), and later in the day I added a scoop of collagen to something else — more tea, a smoothie, yogurt. (After trying several different brands, Perfect Supplements is the only brand I use! All The Nourishing Things readers get an extra 10% off with my exclusive coupon code TODAY10!)
Sure enough, my hair grew like crazy in 2016, and my fingernails grew longer and stronger than ever before (and I’m a former nail biter!).
These small additions yield BIG results and are an easy, no-thinking-required way to practice self-care.
#9 — See A Practitioner
Maybe you’ve dealt with some mysterious health issues for years. Well, momma, this year is the year you find answers!
Investing in a practitioner for myself was seriously one of the best decisions I ever made — and is the primary financial investment I’m making in myself.
I’ve made all the excuses, too… I can’t afford it. I’ll figure out the answer on my own. I’ll try this or that supplement. What if ______?
Except we mommas can’t afford to function at less than our best! And we often don’t have the time or energy to research it on our own. And supplements aren’t all they’re cracked up to be!
Whether it’s a chiropractor who specializes in nutrition, a functional medicine doctor, a naturopath, or a nutritionist, invest the time and money to get to the root of whatever ails you.
In 2016, I found the most AMAZING naturopath who is also a licensed acupuncturist. I have a standing appointment with her once a month. Yes, it’s been expensive (especially since our insurance doesn’t cover it). But oh my goodness, has it ever been worth it! I’m getting answers to questions I’ve had for YEARS and addressing the root causes of some nagging issues.
You can’t take care of your family unless you’re taking care of YOU, too.
#10 — See A Therapist
Again, something else I wish I had invested in years ago.
We have all experienced trauma that has affected us deep, deep down. Our emotions are so tied to our physical well-being; why do you think stress makes you physically sick? It is imperative that we deal with emotional traumas — either from childhood or adulthood — before they settle into our physiology and start causing problems.
I am currently seeing a therapist who is using EMDR to address a trauma I experienced when my daughter was born 11-1/2 years ago. This is an issue for which I’ve had prayer and counseling in the past, yet it still wasn’t going away. It has plagued my mind and caused a deep reaction of grief almost daily for over a decade.
When my naturopath revealed that this trauma was very likely at the root of my anxiety, she recommended EMDR to address it and referred me to a therapist.
I’m not recommending EMDR for everyone, however, if you have a trauma (or traumas) that triggers a reaction every time you think about it, you need help. And it’s ok to ask for help. It’s a small price to pay for peace and emotional healing.
What a deep, meaningful way to practice self-care.
#11 — Self-Education
What’s something you’ve always wanted to learn about and just never have?
It’s time! Carpe diem!
I had had a goal of becoming a certified health coach for years, and I finally did it in 2016! It took me longer than I expected, but I completed my course!
This year, I want to learn more about Traditional Chinese Medicine. So I purchased a book about it to educate myself — The Web That Has No Weaver: Understanding Chinese Medicine.
Only you know what your heart desires to learn… so invest in the resources to make it happen!
#12 — Invest In Friendships
Sometimes we get so focused on our kids’ friendships, or lack of friendships, that we neglect our own. And it’s a myth that you can only be friends with the parents of your kids’ friends. That’s definitely more convenient, but it’s not always possible.
Over the last few years, I’ve experienced the huge paybacks of having meaningful friendships for myself. Hanging out with my friends recharges my batteries in ways that nothing else does! And it always seems like a friend will stop by or send me a text or a funny meme at just the right time to lift my spirits and help me out a funk.
For me, investing in friendships goes along with regular mommy timeouts — because I’m pretty extroverted. Yet even if you’re an introvert, it’s still wise to have a close friend (outside of your partner) who can give you new perspective and fun!
#13 — Lemon Water In The A.M.
Make healthy digestion a priority from the minute you wake up by drinking 16 ounces of water with 1/4 of a lemon squeezed in it.
This supports your liver and assists with proper detoxification.
Super easy way to show yourself some love!
#14 — Use & Diffuse Essential Oils
I can be having a super stressful moment, and if I remember to grab the bottle of lavender or Roman chamomile essential oil and inhale deeply, that moment will fade in a matter of seconds. Oils are really that powerful! It’s like chilling out in a bottle!
But even further than de-stressing, I take care of myself by using essential oils in a variety of ways. There are way too many to list here, but here are a few of my favorite ways to use oils on a daily basis:
- adding lemon essential oil to yogurt
- using frankincense in my daily skincare routine
- inhaling or applying LLP Blend when allergies suddenly flare up
- applying peppermint oil to alleviate a tummy ache or gas
I like my house to smell nice, but I don’t like polluting our indoor air with candles and sprays. Diffusers get the job done AND have the added benefit of being not only good for the air, but good for our bodies, too! You can customize how your home smells from day to day or even with the seasons. (Check out these 6 Seasonal Essential Oil Diffuser Blends!)
If you love using essential oils as much as I do to care for your family and yourself, check out my favorite oils from Spark Naturals! Be sure to use my exclusive 10% coupon code DIETZVILLE when you check out for even more savings!
#15 — Get Those Greens In
And it doesn’t always have to be a salad…
Eating more greens (and more variety of greens) is a pretty major goal of mine. All veggies are excellent, but there’s something almost magical about greens.
They’re cleansing and make me feel refreshed from the inside out. I also feel really good about myself when I eat them.
Greens are just perfect foods — and chlorophyll is the magic ingredient. Chlorophyll is a cancer-fighting powerhouse of nutrition. It helps with detoxification and digestion, hormone balance, blood clotting and healing, and so. much. more.
I want more of THAT! How am I getting in my greens without eating tons of salad?
- Adding them to my smoothies — here’s the best way to add spinach to smoothies!
- Adding a scoop of Aquatic Greens to smoothies or drinks like my Hippie Juice. (Use my coupon code TODAY10 for 10% off Aquatic Greens!)
- Taking Perfect Chlorella daily — per my naturopath’s recommendation. (Use my coupon code TODAY10 for 10% off Perfect Chlorella!)
- Adding sprouts to wraps, sandwiches, and salads.
- Adding kale to soups and hashes.
- Eating my favorite kale chips in the whole world.
- Hiding greens in stuff — like this hummus!
- Sprinkling nori and wakame on my soups as a garnish.
I hope you’ll throw out the notion that you’re selfish if you practice self-care. YOU’RE NOT!
You’ll be a happier, healthier version of yourself and you may even fall in love with the face in the mirror.