Cliches. We love to call them out on their lack of originality, yet often fail to realize the reason they’re repeated so often is because they’re undeniable truths of life.
“You can’t love others before loving yourself” is a cliché closely associated with the need for self care, as is “you can’t pour into others from an empty cup.” But the need to write off clichés causes us to brush aside their wisdom and we try, anyway.
We continuously try to put work and family ahead of ourselves because more often than not, we feel obligated to. No, more than obligated: We feel pressured to, because if we don’t, someone will drop the hammer on us.
Hindsight is 20/20
Many of us won’t admit the need for self care, a vacation, or just one moment where people will just let us breathe and think straight. It’s inspired memes about how sometimes, people want to lay in bed all day and eat fatty foods and…well, engage in an activity that practically defines the category of “Not Safe For Work”. But self care isn’t just taking breaks, it’s doing the things that make us healthier, more productive, and less stressed…and therein lies the conundrum. If care is so essential to our well-being, why is it so hard?
It’s in part because self-care is a discipline. Eating healthier means setting aside time to prepare several days’ worth of meals, not to mention the energy invested into making said meals. Exercising also requires an investment of time and energy, even if you have the convenience of a home gym setup and can forgo the headaches of a commercial gym. Sticking to a sleep schedule can mean less time to have fun after work (no matter what your idea of “fun” is). Self-care just seems to demand even more of our time and our energy, two things we don’t have enough of in the first place!
Additionally, self-care doesn’t necessarily feel good, at least not at first. Grilled chicken doesn’t taste as good as fried chicken. Most forms of exercise literally hurt, both during and for days afterward.
In that sense, self care seems to be a series of confusing contradictions that are more trouble than they’re worth. But that’s not the case! We all need a bit of guidance, especially when it comes to getting started…so here are 7 self-care tips that will change your life.
De-clutter and become more organized
Ah, organization. Yet another seemingly tedious yet crucial form of self-care that most people dread. But here’s why it’s entirely necessary: think of your living/working quarters as a visual metatphor for your mindset. If your area is messy, you’re most likely feeling overwhelmed and need to jettison some things that aren’t 100% necessary to your success.
Yes, I realize that means you’re going to have to take some time-perhaps even a full day-that you really don’t have in the first place. Trust me: it’ll be worth it in the long run. In fact, de-cluttering your spaces may even turn a profit! Once your stuff is organized, you can sell the things you don’t want using apps and sites like eBay, Facebook Marketplace, ThredUp (clothing only), and DeCluttr (for unwanted tech). Peace of mind at a profit; it doesn’t get much better than that!
Take a long break at least once a year
Taking breaks more often helps you to recharge your batteries and clear your head, allowing you to attack your goals with a new lease on life. Getting away from it all every now and then can do wonders. In fact, traveling overseas and experiencing new cultures can do wonders for broadening perspective and sparking creative ideas!
If you can’t afford to travel far, there’s always the staycation. Do some research on restaurants to dine at, as well as lesser-known attractions in your area worth visiting. For instance, New York City’s transit museum features tours of the city’s discontinued Subway stations, including the astoundingly beautiful Old City Hall station. (For anyone wondering why it’s no longer in use: it’s built on a loop which can’t accommodate modern train cars; in fact, there’s a dangerously wide gap between the cars and the platform.)
Adopt, don’t shop (if your living situation allows it)
More than 50% of the households in European countries and the US own a pet, and for good reason. Who doesn’t love cuddling up to a big loving cuddlebug of a dog or a fluffy cat? They’d certainly be happy to oblige, especially the ones you rescued from a shelter and provided a loving home to.
If you’re looking for a place to start, or are a Special Needs individual who could use the aid of a Service Dog, Golden Retrievers, Labradors, and Spitzes might be a good match.
Plan a fitness program and stick to it
Sooner or later, we all end up at the proverbial “hill” of our late thirties and early forties. From what we hear, that’s the point where one’s metabolism often takes a long walk off a short cliff and they sneezing too hard can strain their fragile. Speaking of injuries, it’s not uncommon to hear about people who are “getting up there in age” requiring surgery to repair or even replace parts of their body which have been worn down beyond use: knees, hips, and yes, the lower back as well. This often dimishes the quality of life, limiting-if not outright eroding-their abilities.
To coin a cliché: “This all could’ve been avoided with a little planning and preparation.” This is where the ‘health and wellness” portion of self-care comes into play.
Let’s take the Barbell Hip Thrust as an example: It’s a movement where one is…well, humping a barbell. Our Editor in Chief admits to feeling like a bit of an idiot every time he does them…but not only have those feelings not stopped them from performing them weekly, he prioritizes building his Barbell Hip Thrust strength. To him, Barbell Hip Thrusts are the new Bench Press! Why? Because he realizes that gluteal strength is vital to long-term health and longevity. If the gluteals significantly weaken (or in extreme cases, shut down completely), the body wll compensate by shifting the stress to the muscles in the hips and lower back. Over time, as the impact of literally moving wrong degrades the body, the knees will be impacted as well…which, as we mentioned earlier, could result in needing to go under the knife and never quite being the same afterward.
All of that can be avoided by pushing aside feelings of awkwardness and reluctance 3 times a week, 15-20 minutes at a time.
Looks like Jocko was right. In life’s crucial moments, discipline does indeed equal freedom.
Create an environment where you have the power to say no
There’s a common misconception that people who have difficulty saying “no” need to “grow a backbone” and learn to enforce boundaries. Here’s where they go wrong: the inability to say no is the result of emotional trauma, often as a byproduct of being born into a toxic family. To make a long story short, there are people out there whose parents viciously punished them for saying no-in the form of sabotaging opportunities for growth and/or dismantling relationships-and can’t help but become conditioned to avoid saying no at all costs…because every time they’ve said no, it’s proven to be costly.
On top of that, there’s professional pressure to be a “yes” person. Our jobs often push us to give more of our time and energy just to break even…or in extreme cases, give more for less just to keep the company afloat. Jobs can often make us feel obligated to take on more responsibility and stretch ourselves thin. In the best case scenario, it’s in the hopes that our hard work will earn a promotion. Unfortunately, a disproportionate number of us are dealing with the worst case scenario: Our employers have made it clear we’re expendable, and
If someone is dealing with one or both of these situations, a lack of boundaries isn’t the problem. It’s having their boundaries trampled so often, they don’t see saying “no” as a viable option. Saying “no” is selfish, and selfishness gets punished.
Here’s what the powers that be fail to realize: saying “no” isn’t selfish. In fact, it’s sometimes necessary. In fact, it’s the heart of a success principle that goes back centuries: Pareto’s Principle, aka the 80/20 rule. In the simplest possible terms, 80% of a business or an individual’s success comes from 20% of their actions, so the surest method of maximizing their success is to spend 80% of their time performing those highly productive 20% actions and minimize the time they spend performing the other 80%. There’s a direct correlation between this principle and those who don’t see the value of boundaries; namely, they can’t see past fulfilling their immediate needs, much less the potential cost of doing so. So, until you can get away from them entirely, use the 80/20 rule as your ‘line in the sand.”
Sure, your boss could make you work extra hours and spread you as thinly across many projects as possible because you’re their most competent/skilled worker. Or you could make it clear that your time and energy are best invested in the project(s) where your particular set of skills are absolutely necessary and suggest someone better suited to the project, or if it’s a role anyone can fill, whoever’s most likely to be free to do it).
Ironically, family is a little harder to utilize this principle with, as they don’t have to abide by any professional rules. When you set boundaries, they’ll often attempt to ignore them. Hold your ground; if they expect you to run errands when you need to be working…don’t make a fuss, just go to work instead.
If you’re having trouble saying “no” because the people around you won’t take “no” for an answer, abide by the 80/20 rule and hold everyone else to that same standard.
“Grant us the serenity of mind to accept that which cannot be changed; courage to change that which can be changed, and wisdom to know the difference.”
When you see it in print, it’s interesting to note that the practice of meditation is a direct answer to the Serenity Prayer, or perhaps an extension of it.
The health benefits of meditation and yoga is now an open secret. Meditation helps to keep your mind calm and cool and gives you the mental strength to grapple with life’s problems. You may find meditating difficult initially but if you cogitate under the supervision of a yoga instructor, you will soon start reaping the benefits of meditation. Although going to regular yoga classes is not necessary to meditate, you can just set aside a few minutes every morning and use one of the meditation apps like simple habit to help you get started.
Eat healthy and nourishing foods
Remember what I said earlier about grilled chicken not tasting as good as fried chicken? I’d like to point out that there are such things as marinades, as well as herbs and spices. (In fact, there are 11 herbs and spices that a certain colonel uses to make his fried chicken taste so good.) The key takeaway here is this: healthy is absolutely necessary, but it doesn’t have to be bland. In fact, get creative and have fun with it! Why not marinade that chicken with a mix of cayenne, honey, and teriyaki for a couple of hours before throwing it on the grill? Your tastebuds will thank you, as will your gut!
Do your best to stay away from processed foods and eat organic as much as possible. Doing this you will avoid ingesting extremely harmufull chemicals that are proven to make you sick in many different ways.
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