We need to re-think self-care. It is much bigger than massages and pedicures – although that can be part of your self-care! It is about taking care of our whole self, so we can show up as the best version of ourselves.
We also need to think more broadly about how it can be practiced. First, there are a multitude of ways, so it will be as individual as the person practicing it. And, secondly, self-care can be practiced in micro-bursts – as small acts that can be performed throughout the day that work to enhance our well-being.
Here are 30 practices for your personal, physical and professional self that can be done in very little time, for you to adopt, adapt, and make your own, wherever you are….
1. Craft a daily mantra and say it out loud: e.g. ‘Today is a new start’ or ‘My good enough is great’. This brings positive intention to you and your day.
2. Identify your superpower. What are you great at? Remind yourself routinely throughout the day. This brings focus and reinforces your strengths.
3. Take 10 minutes to listen to your favourite podcast. If you can, repeat throughout the day. This gives you a mental break that is fun and nourishes your mind.
4. Practice appreciation. Send a message to someone: e.g. ‘I was just thinking of you’ or ‘I really enjoyed your Zoom presentation.’ Positivity and kindness are contagious and bring joy to you and the recipient.
5. Exercise your gratitude muscles: bring to mind three things you are grateful for today – savor the moment and/or note them down – this is a great way to build resilience.
6. Journal. Allocate 10 minutes to write about whatever you want. This can be anything from creative free-flow writing to venting. This is a great way to boundary your worry-time, or simply serve as a creative outlet.
7. Listen/watch your favourite 5-minute loving kindness meditation. This is a wonderful way to set positive intention for you and the universe while you quieten your mind.
8. Colour. Set your timer for 5 minutes and colour: it’s play time which is not only fun, but a great way to clear your mind.
9. Practice admiration: give yourself the task of identifying 3 things you admire or had not noticed before, either in a person or in your surroundings. It’s amazing what we take for granted and/or do not notice.
10. Let go of expectations. Identify one expectation you have of yourself/another – and intentionally let go of it for the day. You do not have to hold on to everything.
11. Read. Give yourself 10 minutes through the day to read from your favourite novel or magazine (lock yourself in the bathroom if you have to!).
12. Cultivate humour. Share your favourite joke or funniest video with a friend or loved one. Humour increases our well-being.
13. Set your alarm for the top (or bottom) of the hour, get up and grab a glass of your favourite flavoured water. Water nourishes your mind and body.
14. Set your timer to alert you every 45 minutes to stand up and do 60 seconds of movement – e.g. a walk around your apartment, do 60 jumping jacks or push-ups.
15. Take a 10-minute walk around the block and increase your vitamin D while doing so.
16. Change positions. Move to another chair or take your work to your favourite café. Changing places can change your perspective.
17. Prepare your sleep routine. Make sure you prioritize sleep and anything you need to do to make it happen, as part of your regular self-care.
18. Take 10 minutes in the day to plan your meals and snacks. Preparation helps you to avoid unhealthy choices later on.
19. Allocate 10 minutes to prepare a healthy snack for when you need it during the day (ie trail mix, carrot sticks and houmous).
20. Have a cry if you want/need to. This can be cathartic.
21. Don’t forget to breathe. There are so many breathing techniques to choose from. Choose your favourite and give it a go.
Caring for Yourself at Work
22. Allocate 10 minutes at the beginning of the day to review your priorities for that day and where you want to invest energy.
23. Ask for help if you want/need it. It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help.
24. Remind yourself of your accomplishments – reread your CV/LinkedIn profile.
25. Make a ‘not to do’ list. What won’t you do today? Identify what this is and don’t do it! This is great for managing your time and energy.
26. Reach out to someone you enjoy speaking with and plan a 10-minute chat or coffee. This builds connection and your network.
27. Let an irritator or irritation go: consciously choose to not react to something that may be irritating you. We are all blessed with battles in life, so pick yours, with intention.
28. Create a ritual to help you with a challenge: e.g. as you start a difficult call, prepare a cappuccino; or programme your alarm each hour, so you get up and stretch/do a sun salutation/cite your mantra.
29. Allocate 10 minutes at the end of the day to journal: highlight what you accomplished, your biggest learnings, exemplary acts of leadership…
30. Take 1 minute to identify your work superpower – e.g. calm under pressure, organization, strategic thinking, agility, vulnerability…
Self-care begins with you and is a powerful practice for your overall well-being. Here, you have 30 quick and simple micro self-care practices to get you started wherever you are. Each is meant to bring you moments of pleasure, nourishment and relaxation, and/or release you from whatever stresses you may be facing. What else can you add to this list?
Remember, self-care comes in many shapes and sizes. It can be big or small, practiced in hours or minutes, giving you long-lasting effects that impact on your whole life – both personal and professional. We are all busy and have many competing agendas; but if you want to continue to contribute – let alone, thrive – looking after yourself is a powerful tool, as you look after others.
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