Building a Self-Care Toolkit

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. ” – Thich Nhat Hanh

How often have you found yourself thinking, or even saying aloud, that you’re simply too busy to slow down and take care of yourself? After all, there are so many things that need to get done… and, the sooner the better! When we fall into this unmindful attitude of rushing from one task to the next, a slave to our to-do lists and external obligations, it’s easy to lose sight of our own well-being. These are the times when it’s most important to pause and take stock of your current self-care practices, and perhaps even add a few new self-care strategies to your burgeoning self-care toolkit.

Self-Care for the Mind

  • Pay attention to a daily activity that you usually do on automatic pilot, like brushing your teeth. Take the time to slow down and really notice the sensations of this simple routine.
  • Set a timer for one minute. Use this brief amount of time to pay attention to your breath, observing the sensations as you breathe in… and out.
  • Read an uplifting or inspiring article, book, or collection of quotations.
  • Set a timer for 10 minutes, and use that time to organize or clean up a messy area of your home or work space. Notice how much better you feel after decluttering.

Self-Care for the Body

  • Take a walk outside while practicing mindfulness… really notice the sensations of your feet as they touch the ground, the smells you notice in the air, and the feeling of the sun on your skin.
  • Engage in 30 minutes of light to moderate exercise that you enjoy… perhaps you are replenished by yoga, or maybe going for a run is more your thing. Do an activity that gets your heart pumping while reaping the many benefits of exercise.
  • Set aside some quiet time to take a long, hot bubble bath, perhaps accompanied by candlelight and some relaxing music. This can serve as an excellent way for you to unwind and get ready for a relaxing night of peaceful sleep.
  • Make sure your diet is balanced and filled with fresh, healthy foods that leave you feeling nourished. Practice mindfulness while enjoying your meals to increase enjoyment and savoring.

Self-Care for the Soul

  • Keep a gratitude journal. Choose a time of day that you plan to write down at least three things for which you feel grateful. Research indicates a strong association between a regular gratitude journal practice and overall well-being.
  • Engage in a spiritual, religious, or secular mindfulness practice that resonates with your personal set of values and belief system. Use this connection to something greater than yourself to stay centered and grounded.
  • Meet with your counselor, therapist, or other mental health professional for ongoing support with maintaining your self-care regimen.
  • Set aside time to engage in a mindfulness meditation practice… and keep it up!

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Featured image: Hug by Bryant Wong / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

(2015) Bush, A. D. Simple self-care for therapists: Restorative practices to weave through your workday. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Co., Inc.

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