We all have days when things don’t entirely go to plan or we wake and find we just feel ‘blah’ but I have 20 easy self-care hacks to help you to get your mojo back.
Those of us who bear the strain of a chronic or auto-immune illness may start each day from a position of compromised energy and it may be a struggle to even get to ‘blah’. And if you are in your 50s like me, you may find you have lots of little niggles and aches to deal with. (Find more on about self-care in later life on my new blog selfcareatmidlife.com).
At times like this, having a strong support network of friends and family is invaluable and the phone can be our greatest ally. Even the often maligned Facebook can offer a lifeline of community, friendship and seasoned advice.
It is also important to treat ourselves with kindness and to know when we need a break. It is not a crime to take our needs seriously. As the saying goes, you need to apply the oxygen mask to yourself first before you can save anyone else – and this is particularly true for parents.
I’m sure you will have your own list but here are 20 easy self-care hacks to press the pause button in your life and to take some time out to reconnect with what’s important to you and your feelings – and to make sure you are treating both your mind and body with care.
1. Say no. Remind people that ‘no’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘never’, but at the moment it means ‘not now’.
2. Call a friend or relative you can trust.
3. Lose yourself in your favourite TV box set (mine is the Agatha Christie’s Poirot series).
4. Read a really gripping book. Here’s a review of one of my favourites.
5. Learn a new skill – both dancing, table tennis and learning a new language have recently been shown to keep our brains young and stave off dementia.
6. Take a long, hot bath. You could try an Epsom Salt bath which is great for renewing our Magnesium levels. A magnesium deficiency can be the cause of tiredness.
7. Turn your gadgets off for a while. The world will not implode. Even if you turn email and Facebook notifications off you may feel less frazzled.
8. Try some adult colouring or dot-to-dot. There are loads of books available. In fact, so many of us are colouring, we are facing a global shortage of coloured pencils!
9. Create a vision board on Pinterest. If you haven’t got into Pinterest yet, you may be surprised at how easy it is to use and how addictive.
You basically create online pinboards containing your favourite images and you swop and share images by following others just as you do on Facebook and Instagram.
A vision board is a visual wishlist of all the things you’d like to have or experience and, so the theory goes, by regularly viewing your vision board, you are more likely to bring the things you want directly into your experience.
10. Ditch the black – it’s so easy to dress in black because we think it’s slimming or it helps us blend into the background but we know that colour lifts both our mood and that of the people looking at us.
Why not add a dash of bold colour into your wardrobe – a hot pink, yellow or orange?
Black can be pretty ageing, especially around the face whilst a splash of colour can throw a flattering light on our complexions. This, by the way, is why ladies used to wear pearls – to light up their skin.
11. Do some yoga, pilates or some gentle stretches. You don’t have to go to a class to get the benefit as there are loads of good DVDs.
As you get older, you might find 10 minutes of stretching each morning ‘unkinks’ your body from your night’s sleep and prepares you for the day.
12. Meditate. Just 10-20 minutes a day has been proven to give long-term benefits to our health. There are many guides to meditation online and I have also heard good things about the Headspace app which offers guided meditation if you just find it too difficult to ignore your thoughts.
13. Take some photographs – just photographing your kids, your pets, your garden, the sky, anything that gives you joy, will lift your spirits.
You can share your world via Instagram and, if you use the right hashtags, you may find many others who share your particular interests. Did you know, for example, that there is a hashtag called #catsofinstagram?
14. Take a nap. Not exactly rocket science I know but it comes back to taking time out for YOU and not being afraid to assert your needs. The theory goes that anything between 20-45 minutes is a sensible amount of time. Any longer and you’ll probably wake up feeling groggy.
15. Eat something. Seriously. If you have been fuelling yourself on carbs and sugar all day, try a high protein snack – a handful of Almonds or some cubes of Cheddar Cheese and some apple. Try some Green Tea for a slightly healthier caffeine drink or just a long glass of water.
16. Write a gratitude list. I know, I know, it might sound a bit ‘woo-woo’ but you’ll find that there is truly a lot we can all be grateful for, right now.
17. Do something nice for someone else. I read this week about a lady who was buying an In Sympathy card for a relative since there had been a bereavement in her family. She was surprised to find a small plastic envelope in the card she selected.
In the envelope was £10 and a note from a stranger saying “I am sorry that you are having to buy this card. Please take this £10 and do something nice for yourself”. I image that stranger felt as good making that gesture as the lady who received the envelope did.
18. Do some baking. In her book “Saved By Cake“, the writer Marian Keyes describes how baking helped her to deal with her depression. You may find it helps you – in which case, worry about the calories later and get creative with the butter icing.
19. Pray. Although many of us no longer adhere to a formal, organised religion, there is a lot to be said about asking for what we want and putting the future in the hands of a higher power – whether that be God or the Universe.
Just ask, let go and then go about your day. Even better if you can sit in a sacred space, whether that be a church, a garden or a quiet place you’ve made your own. Why not light a candle and spend some time thinking about what it is that you really want and need.
20. Declutter. There’s a wonderful book about domestic cleaning called Sink Reflections by Marla Cilley (Flylady) She recommends doing something called the “27 Fling Boogie”. Get a black bag and run around your home selecting 27 things to go in the bin.
Or you might prefer the more philosophical approach of Marie Kondo in her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying“. Either way, a good sort out tends to clear the mind and give you something else to focus on. Just remember not to go too mad and chuck out stuff that brings up positive emotions for you.
So there you have it. 20 simple self-care hacks to recharge your batteries. What do you do to make yourself feel better?