By Melanie Carvell
Whether it is a morning meditation with that first hot cup of coffee, an energizing noon hour workout to recharge your afternoon, or gratitude journaling before you rest at night, mini self-care routines can be one of the best ways to squeeze wellness into busy days. Routines become a part of the fabric of our lives, resulting in rituals that renew and restore our energy without much planning, willpower, or conscious thought required.
Having adequate resources to fuel our most cherished roles in life depends on the conservation and renewal of our own energy supply. When we don’t invest in ourselves, we are not a very good investment for others. Taking time to recharge is not self-centered but rather a strategy that can power us through our days with more strength and energy to share with others.
What self-care routines are working well for you?
What routines might you create to help nourish
your energy stores and renew your spirit?
Here are some mini-routines that might
spark your own investment ideas:
Meditation: Never underestimate the power of a few deep breaths as you move through your day. Deep breathing can reset our nervous system to one that is calm and more focused. Meditation can be done anywhere: on your commute, for five minutes at your desk, or while waiting in line at the grocery store. Trouble sleeping? Meditation is my go-to to help me fall asleep or return to sleep. There are many apps available to help with your meditation practice. My favorite right now is the 10% Happier app, developed by Dan Harris, author of “Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics.”
Movement: Any length of workout, even just a walk around the block, can counteract stress hormones and set off a cascade of benefits for body and mind. Exercise sessions do not need to be heroic. Taking short walks throughout your day is one of the best ways to keep your energy, creativity, and problem-solving ability flowing. Early morning workouts start your day with a victory lap that can give you the forward momentum to take on the challenges of the day more thoughtfully and productively. Our human bodies were designed to move — not to sit and type all day!
Gratitude Journaling: Our human brains have a built-in negativity bias, having a tendency to be on the lookout for what is wrong and not appreciating what’s right. Expressing gratitude daily can make a significant difference in our relationships and we often underestimate the effect our gratitude can have on others.
Taking a few moments each evening to write down three things that you are grateful for can prompt you to pay closer attention to positive events and engage in them more fully. This practice helps us to notice and savor the better things in life, changing the emotional tone of our life to one of more happiness and peace. Gratitude is good for business, too. In a large study, 81 percent of employees said they’d feel better about themselves and work harder if their supervisor expressed more gratitude for their efforts.
Acts of Kindness: When we act with kindness and compassion, it benefits others, but it profoundly benefits our health and happiness too. One kind deed can create a domino effect that improves the lives of many others, especially our own. Performing simple acts of kindness can be a powerful antidote for depression and anxiety. Daniel Goleman, author of “Emotional Intelligence,” said it best: “When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands, and we increase our capacity of connection.”
Digital Detox: We know that the statistics are alarming regarding social media and the use of our digital devices, with the average person checking his/her smartphone 150 times a day. It is a difficult habit to break because it lures us with the same unpredictable pattern of rewards as a slot machine. It’s impossible to unplug, but can we consider how we might minimize the temptation to constantly check our phones? It might be deleting our Twitter account or simply limiting our social media accounts to one device. Leaving our cell phone in our purse or briefcase in the back seat while driving can minimize distractions and keep us safely aware of our surroundings. Establishing device-free times in our day can help us and our loved ones be less stressed, distracted, and most importantly, freer to truly connect in meaningful ways.
Paving the way with daily positive routines and rituals can help us invest in the heart of our own health, allowing us the ability to react more thoughtfully to challenges and balance our self-care with thoughtful care for others.