Treat yourself to a little TLC every single day and reap the wellbeing rewards
You might be aware that you need to take better care of yourself, but carry on regardless due to the busy-ness of life. Self-care is something you need to be mindful of and actively plan, rather than something that just happens. Here’s some self-care inspiration you can use as a daily boost for your mind, body, and soul.
Self-care starts with being kinder to ourselves. Would you berate your best friend the way you do yourself? We are often our own worst critic – demanding more and expecting higher standards than we would ever dream of asking of someone else. The bad news is that as a perfectionist you will always feel as if you could have done better or worked harder. These constant self-judgments and feeling you are falling short of expectations are exhausting and undermine confidence and self-esteem.
Often we want everything to be perfect as a way of keeping control, but life is often beyond our control. Begin to notice when this need for perfection is arising. What do you discover? How do you behave toward yourself? Do you ease off or press the accelerator to achieve more? How does this pressure affect you? For example, does it affect your sleep patterns, your appetite, your relationship with others? Once you have begun to notice these thoughts, consider what is driving them – and try to challenge or reframe them. Adopting a ‘good enough’ approach can help to relieve the pressure.
We can be incredibly hard on ourselves when we focus on our shortcomings and mistakes. When you experience guilt, take a moment to notice the feeling and what is triggering it. Is there something to learn from it? Is it a signal that in some way you’re not honouring your intentions or values? If so, thank your guilt for providing you with this helpful information, and see what changes you may need to make. Remind yourself that no one is perfect, and honour yourself for doing the best you can.
Choosing to look on the bright side may sound like a platitude – and may seem difficult to achieve – but the new and brighter moments are usually there, and always worth the hunt. The path to happiness lies in our capacity to see the bigger picture, through positivity, hope, and compassion for others. Even in the most dire of circumstances it is still possible to choose your attitude to your situation and retain your sense of identity.
Our brains have what psychologists call a ‘negativity bias’, which means we pay more attention to negative events than positive ones. This serves an evolutionary purpose, because it means we’re attentive to danger, but sadly it also means we miss out on a lot of the small, ordinary joys that life brings with it, too. Try to pay more attention to the good experiences you’re exposed to, and savour the fleeting moments of beauty that life holds. If we can bring an experience into awareness for as little as 60 seconds, we can bank it in our long-term memory. Make an intention to be aware of those fleeting moments of pleasure.
Develop the habit of writing down three new things that you are grateful for every single day. Research has found that the simple act will have a positive influence on the way your brains work in just three months.
Do you remember what it feels like to shake with uncontrollable laughter; to feel consumed by the joy of a single moment, shared with someone you care about or can have fun with? Laughter wipes away tension in a single breath and turns a frowning face into one that is alive and beautiful. It doesn’t take much to trigger a giggle: just thinking about something funny that has happened in the past can provoke laughter and increase happiness. Phone a friend, tell a silly joke, or read a favourite cartoon
If you are stressed, panicked, or unhappy, you can usually feel yourself breathing in the top part of your chest. Take a moment to notice your breathing. Then consciously breathe from the lower part of your abdomen. Slow down your breathing and see how quickly you start to calm down. Try to make deep breathing a habit. Be aware of your own breath and take time in your day to adjust it. If you’re having an argument or feeling emotional, literally take a few deep breaths – remove yourself from the situation to somewhere a bit quieter and breathe deeply. It really works!
These instructions are simple and taught by Buddhist teacher and author, Thich Nhat Hanh:
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