This summer has felt a little less relaxing than most for me, and I don’t think I’m alone in that feeling. After a few years of a slower pace and minimal crowds because of the pandemic, The Washington Post has called this summer “the busiest travel season in a generation.” It’s been great to see things getting back to normal, with outdoor music festivals and street fairs back in full swing. But with all this excitement, you may find a need for some time to yourself. The final weeks of the summer season are the perfect opportunity to rest and recharge. Flight attendants warn parents on airplanes in the event of an emergency to put on their own oxygen masks first before helping children. Similarly, to be a good friend, you must also be taking good care of yourself.
One of the biggest barriers to self-care, particularly for those of us who routinely care for others, is the myth that self-care is selfish. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In a society that says, ‘Put yourself last,’ self-love and self-acceptance are almost revolutionary.Bréne Brown
Another commonly held self-care myth is that taking time for yourself has to be time-consuming and expensive. While we’d love a trip to the spa as much as anyone else, we have a few ideas for ways you can recharge without taking a vacation day or breaking the bank.
Relax and recharge your mind and body with Meditation or Yoga: Like many, I had long read about the benefits of meditation and yoga but never felt I had time for meditation and lacked the physical flexibility to turn myself into a pretzel in a yoga class. Fortunately, creating a meditation habit is made easy when using an app like Calm or Headspace. Calm’s 10-minute ‘Daily Calm’ meditations are a great way to start the day, and I sometimes just turn on the soundscape feature to help me drown out other distractions. If you’re looking for yoga that fits around your schedule and fitness level, try one of the many downloadable classes sold as a subscription or for a one-time fee (or free on YouTube!). If you’re a beginner, programs like BeachBody on Demand’s ‘Three-week yoga retreat’ is a great place to start and tap into your inner yogi without having to have the flexibility of a rubber band.
Read or listen to something that will inspire your self-care journey. The podcast Hidden Brain recently featured a story on ‘Befriending Your Inner Voice,’ a voice that often can be our own harshest critic. This episode provides tips for creating distance from negative self-talk, and reframing self-critique as challenges or opportunities to learn and grow. Another great guide for self-reflection is Bréne Brown’s Atlas of the Heart, particularly her section on self -compassion and shame resilience. If you are interested in getting lost in other people’s journeys, several books from our LOF Nonfiction 2021 summer reading list are a great place to start. Lori Gottlieb’s Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is a reminder that life isn’t always perfect, even for those who may project otherwise. The stories she shares of self-discovery and compassion are both compelling and inspiring.
Write down your feelings, and consider sharing those with others. Journaling has long been a way for me to unwind after a long day, but chronicling the days events is not for everyone. Keeping a gratitude journal has become a recommended tool to boost one’s mood at home or work, and scientific research published in a 2018 study at UC Berkeley observes: ‘a grateful disposition is associated with better health,’ as well as, ‘life satisfaction, optimism, subjective well-being, positive affect, and happiness.’ Once you’ve noted what you are grateful for in your own life, consider sharing with others what you appreciate about them. In late 2014, my dad took over the role of grandparent gift-giving following my mom’s debilitating stroke. Rather than mail off the educational toys and puzzles they often bestowed as birthday gifts for their many grandchildren, my dad wrote letters to each grandchild sharing words of reflection and encouragement. These unique gifts became even more meaningful when my dad passed away from cancer in early 2016.
Talk a walk outside. The health benefits of walking are innumerable, and it’s is a great opportunity to listen to a favorite podcast or catching up with others by walking with friends. My friend Heather is using her Facebook posts as an accountability partner in her goal to walk 10k steps each day. This way others can cheer on her progress, be inspired to walk themselves, and delight in her amusing photos of what she encounters on her sometimes twice-daily walks.
We hope you find a way to really unwind before fall’s busy schedules kick in. Drop us a comment about your favorite way to find late your late summer zen!
Who you are inside is what helps you make and do everything in life.Mr. Rogers
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