5 Easy Steps to a Happier You
By Valerie Rice and Andrea Watson | September 21, 2020
Self Care is about as important as it can get. Why? Because you are the center of your universe. Yes, it’s true. Your family and your job are priorities, of course; but don’t sacrifice the well- oiled machine that makes them go! How does self care work? How can a busy person with family, work, a spouse, or any other number of responsibilities take a minute to care for themselves? I will tell you the secret. You MAKE the time. And it isn’t even that hard. Trust me. We can start in just 5 easy steps.
Step 1: Get to know you.
This sounds silly, but most of us define ourselves by our titles. Try it. I am a mother, a writer, a psych nerd, and so on. For this step I want you to get a pen and paper and write three things about yourself that don’t relate to a social title. For example: I am an individual who loves to bake from scratch, an avid reader, and a secret metal head. You can add more, let’s see how you do.
Step 2: Take your list and turn it into activities.
For my list, I would add listening to my favorite band as a self care activity. I can turn it on during a shower, at work, or while cooking or cleaning. I can also add baking on the weekends instead of throwing store bought food at my family. One of these activities
takes no extra time and the other takes a minute. Seems easy, right? Whatever you do, make sure it fits YOUR life, because YOU are the center of your universe. For easy, scientifically proven stress relief tips, check out Life All Day.
Step 3: Start small.
Science tells us that small steps add up to lasting change. Biting off more than we can chew leads to an epic crash and burn. We want to avoid that. So pick an activity you think you can manage, squeeze it in tomorrow, and give it a shot. If it works for you, congratulations! You just successfully completed a self care activity. Now you should build on it. Maybe do one thing you love tomorrow. It can even be the same thing. If that seems daunting, maybe try for next week. Whatever you see is manageable.
Step 4: BREATHE
This one everyone can do. Before you go to bed I want you to try something. It’s called box breathing and it’s the number one technique used by therapists everywhere. It’s done in 4 easy steps:
- Breathe in for the count of 4
- Hold for a count of 4
- Exhale for a count of 4
- Hold for the count of 4
Why? Because this exercise is shown to help us breathing humans to relax and center. We can calm ourselves, focus on where we are, and feel better. This helps us with mindfulness. To learn all about mindfulness, click here. Who doesn’t want to feel better? If you like breathing and want more exercises, you can click here.
Step 5: Don’t beat yourself up.
I know I mentioned social labels, right? Yes. A social label is something everyone sees you as. A wife, husband, cashier, parent, teacher, etc. It is hard to throw off the labels society gave us and see the person underneath. So if you have to try more than once to find the you underneath your label, you are not alone There is no one true activity for everybody because each person is different. Think about it. I can’t go bowling because, not only do I hate the smell of bowling shoes, but I am not coordinated enough. So this would be a miserable activity for me to use. My son can’t meditate because he has ADHD and is constantly bouncing off the walls. Sometimes literally. My poor walls! But we can both find activities that give us the self care we need. Yes, I made him do this activity because I’m THAT mom.
My son takes baths and I read books. My oldest daughter listens to music. The whole point of a self care activity is to refuel the person underneath all the responsibility. Now go back to step one. Take your pen and paper and write down which of the things on your list you think you can do. This is your road map to taking care of yourself successfully. Put it somewhere you can see it. Memorize it and eat it (wait! Don’t eat it, I was kidding!) and if it doesn’t work you can try again. If it makes you feel whole, and it doesn’t drain your battery, then you’re doing it right. Well done you!