When you hear the term “self-care techniques” what do you envision? Massages? Jacuzzis? Drinks with umbrellas served while you lie in a hammock? Deep sigh… me, too.
But those fantasies don’t do much good when you’re restricted by COVID captivity and beyond busy. Your only self-care is remembering to breathe.
So, let’s face reality (aww, do we HAVE to?) and talk about self-care that takes no extra time. You in? Excellent!
These are a few of the tools I’ve learned from therapists, teachers, and books while on my quest to recover from 30 years of depression. I use them every day to stay balanced.
Feed your mind only what you want more of
In our society, we are obsessed with what we put into our mouths. We think about it, plan for it, and feel guilty when we eat something that is pleasurable but “bad for us.” Conversely, we pay scant attention to what we feed our minds!
One of the most powerful practices that keeps me from relapsing into depression is that I am extremely careful about what I allow into my mind. I’m inviting you to be equally diligent. It takes no extra time and will result in less stress and more energy.
What does “being careful” mean? It goes way beyond taking a break from the news. It’s about bringing the same mindfulness to what you put into your mind as you do to what you put into your mouth. For example, I recently became enamored with the Netflix show Billions. It’s well-written, compelling, and Damien Lewis, one of the stars, is certainly easy on the eyes. I quickly became hooked. Then, I noticed something. My mood was darkening, I was feeling pessimistic, and I was angry. I quickly realized that I despised these people and what they were doing. So, despite the lure of finding out “what happens next,” I stopped watching. My mood lifted immediately.
There is a universal principle that goes like this: You get more of what you focus on. Beyond our mere physical bodies, we are energy beings. The energy we put out attracts energy that matches it. I was attracting the dark energy I saw acted out on this show. Knowing where that energy could take me, I opted out. What are you feeding your mind that you could opt out of?
Smile—especially when you don’t feel like it
Here’s an insider secret for better self-care techniques: Your brain does not know the difference between pretend and reality. When you smile, your brain gets the message that you are in a good mood and sends feel-good chemicals into your body. Conversely, when you frown, your brain sends those icky, feel-bad chemicals into your body. Which would you prefer?
My friend Ginger took care of her father when he was in the throes of Alzheimer’s disease. She recently shared with me that, despite the incredible stress she was under, she remembered my words and would deliberately smile. It didn’t take long at all for her mood to switch from glum to good. She also revealed a side benefit—not only was she calmer, but her father, sensing her mood, would also become more peaceful.
Laughter is smiling on steroids. What you may not know is that you don’t need a reason to laugh. You can laugh on cue! Try it when you first awaken, while getting ready for your day, or driving your car (people will just assume there’s something funny on your radio). I don’t recommend laughing when you’re walking alone down the street—they lock people up for that.
There are numerous benefits to laughter, but, keeping to the topic of this article, all you need to know is that it is an incredibly effective form of self-care. It will lower your stress level and leave you feeling rejuvenated.
Why not trade that stress-inducing TV show for a sitcom or some funny YouTube videos? Your body will thank you.
Self-care techniques are important. When you redefine what it means and substitute, at least for the time-being, that massage with a deep belly laugh, you’ll instantly feel better. And isn’t that the end result you’re looking for?