(Not just for counsellors – for you too!)
Okay, last week you heard me tell my story of a really fun self-care moment, and I asked you to send me your ideas for this week’s follow-up post. The most creative ideas came from Stella M. who will very shortly be enjoying some of my world-class cookies, which I hope will give her a very satisfying self-care moment. Her amazing self-care ideas were dancing in the living room, swimming in a river, hiking in the woods, reading, creative writing, cooking and eating (sometimes all in one day!)
As promised, here are a few other ideas to get you started on what I hope is your mission to commit to 20 minutes of self-care activity, every day. Simple, easy, some even free. Enjoy!
1. Doing nothing! Sound boring? Okay, add to that: staring at a lake, the ocean, a nature scene, the face of your beautiful animal (more on that later), or how about just the TV? A few minutes of this and your mind starts to slow down, so does your pulse. Maybe you’ll drift off into a wonderful snooze, who knows.
2. Reading a magazine. Get lost in a fantasy of owning those fabulous outfits, tear out recipes you’ll never end up making, read about someone else’s struggles you can empathize with. I bet you’ll feel better afterwards.
3. Soak in the tub for an hour. Add a dash of lavender oil, bring a glass of wine, a trashy novel, play some relaxing music… That’s the idea. Ahhhh.
4. Bake. Okay, this might sound like work, and it may not be for everyone, but I find it meditative and relaxing. And look at the rewards! (We won’t talk about when the baking doesn’t turn out. This might cause the opposite effect – swearing, foot stomping, etc. – as my partner, Richard, can attest to.)
5. Meditate. Sounds simple? I always admire those people who can sit very still and clear the contents of their mind. It’s never worked for me. But after 20 years of trying, I learned a new technique: Mindfulness. Adding a physical activity to meditation can make a big difference, and cause a distraction from those racing thoughts. (Mindfulness will be a topic covered in a future article).
6. Coffee with a friend. The act of talking, sharing, offloading (hmm, sounds like therapy!) can be equally as relaxing as spending quiet time alone with a coffee.Or maybe a tea, if you’re trying to skip the caffeine buzz.
7. Listening to music. Enya, Radiohead, Metallica, whatever works for you. If it relaxes you, or releases the demons, it’s all good.
8. Walking/hiking. I’ve always found an hour-long walk is deeply relaxing, rain or shine. You might want to step it up a notch by a taking to the mountain trails, or worse yet, the Grouse Grind. Whatever pace appeals to you, go for it. Enjoy the beautiful scenery while you’re at it, and don’t forget your bear spray!
9. The mini-break. (Made fashionable during the Bridget Jones era) if you live in Vancouver, there’s a plethora of stunning islands you can escape to. If you’re balking at the ludicrous BC Ferries fees, there’s always Bowen Island, which is nary a $10 and 20 minute boat ride away from Horseshoe Bay. If camping is your cup of tea, there’s no shortage of places in BC.
10. Mani, Pedi… Botox? I’ve never tried it myself, but according to Samantha from SATC, they’re fabulous! I’d skip the Botox, of course. Don’t forget, Groupon always has great deals. Speaking of which…
I can’t believe some of the amazing deals you can get here. Of course, some of them require a little pre-planning and more cash. Like, a 5-day trip to Reykjavík watching the aurora borealis and staying at the Bjork Hotel (I’m not making this up). But there are also some great deals on restaurants, outdoor activities, and spa-like treatments, as mentioned above.
12. Animal love. I’m lucky enough to have a friend who works as an animal sitter, so I get my dog hugging fix on a regular basis. If you can borrow a friend’s pet for the afternoon (walking their dog as a favour) I’d highly recommend it. Or spend an hour cuddling your own moggie. In most cases, this is relaxing. (I say most, because my cat, Rusty, is insane, and expresses every emotion through biting and scratching. She’s the exception. Don’t ask me why we still love her.)
13. Binge-watching. This is a relatively new term, coined in our current era of Netflix. It’s one of Richard’s favourite self-care activities. (He’s moved on from House of Cards to a new Spanish series called Grand Hotel. He tries to keep me updated, but I lose track of the complex plots and multiple characters. I know it’s full of face-slapping, murder, and loves that “can’t be”. Not your typical guy show, but he’s hooked.) Anyway, in small doses, I think binge watching is just what the doctor ordered. A big self-care indulgence.
14. Movies. Read my introduction paragraph (Part 1 of this post, last week). It works. But be wary of the time of day. If you can, pick the least likely time it will be busy (midweek matinee). If you’re trying to get a break from the kids, a Sunday matinee of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs II might have the opposite effect you’re looking for.
This fun little pack of cards was given to me years ago by a therapist,and it is packed with really fun, whimsical ideas that will spark your creativity and take you out of yourself for a bit. Give yourself permission to while away an hour or two, I bet you’ll find it relaxing.
Okay, I actually have a bunch of other ideas for self-care, but it’s now cutting into my own self-care time. Ihope you find these ideas useful, and remember, these aren’t just things to do when you can fit them in. The key is to make time for them on a regular basis. Whether you’re therapist or not, we all need to indulge ourselves regularly to prevent burnout. Now I’m going to go and watch the original How to Train Your Dragon, enjoy some of my world-renowned baking (that worked out) and not pet my cat, Rusty.
What do you think? Sound doable? Send me your feedback if you try at least one. Did it work?
Jenny Brown is a Vancouver based Registered Therapeutic Counsellor. She is passionate about helping people overcome obstacles to achieving happiness, and takes a gentle collaborative approach to healing. She helps clients with issues such as chronic conditions (physical and mental), life transitions, anxiety, depression, and grief and loss (including pet loss). Contact Jenny today for a free 20 minute consultation. www.jennybrown.ca