Active self-care Part 1: Physical

Taking active care of our minds and bodies is so vital to maintaining a healthy outlook on life. This post is the first part of two thoughts on active self-care. This one will focus on physical acts that we can do to take care of ourselves.

  • Sleep at a regular time every night

Set yourself a bedtime where possible, and try and correspond it to the time you have to wake up, so you’re getting a solid shut-eye every night. Turn off screens and read or listen to a podcast if you can’t sleep straight away. Sleeping enough is the simplest way to show some physical self-love.

  • Stretch out your back before bed

Without even realising, you probably carry a lot of tension in your back and shoulders. A few basic stretches to lengthen your back and release your shoulders will go a long way; helping you to relax, sleep better, and feel less tense the next morning. Use YouTube to get some ideas for stretches, but only go as far as feels good for you.

  • Take a 5-minute walk on your lunch break

Fresh air works wonders! It doesn’t matter what you’re working on, get out of there when you can – even if you can only spare 5 minutes. Close your eyes, breathe in the outdoor air, and stretch and work those legs to keep your body alert and revitalise your mind.

  • Give yourself a foot rub

Your feet deserve a break – those two things carry you around the whole day. If you don’t have a doting partner willing to massage your feet every evening, who cares? Do it yourself. When you take your shoes off take a few minutes to press your fingers into the balls of your feet and your heels, and rub your soles back to serenity. Use some moisturiser or Vaseline for extra care.

  • Use toe separators

Still on that point about your feet needing some love – toe separators are a great (if jot slightly weird) way to excite tired feet. You can pick these up cheapest at a drugstore in the nail polish/pedicure section. They feel weird at first, but pop them in between your toes for as long as is comfortable every evening (maybe while you’re watching TV or eating), and your toes will thank you for the stretch. How your feet feel can affect how YOUR WHOLE BODY feels, so show them some care.

  • Take a hot bath

If you’re lucky enough to have a bath in your home that is. Fill it with oils and use a bath wash in your favourite scent. If you don’t have a bathtub, a hot shower with some good music playing in the background, and some special shower gels/conditioners can have exactly the same effect. Focus your mind only on the pleasure of water on your skin, and the feeling of being cleansed.

  • Pamper your hair

A little conditioner goes a long way. I have semi-afro hair which needs a lot of oils to retain moisture, so a hot oil hair mask using castor, coconut and olive oils is my ultimate comfort care technique, at least once every couple of weeks! If you have the opposite, greasy hair, then try a hair mask that stops build up of oils. Either way, be mindful with the hair products you buy so that washing and styling your hair is not a chore but an active technique of self-care.

  • Sit up straight

Your posture is important. Not only does sitting up straight stop back pain and stiff shoulders, it also gives your body a confidence boost. Everyone looks better sitting tall, and it makes you feel more empowered and self-assured when you straighten your back, and lift your head high. Make sure your chairs are straightened so you sit upright, and be mindful of how you position your body when you watch movies, or are relaxing, particularly in bed.

  • Laugh, a lot

Laughing is the easiest, most effective way of emotional release and it is a physical act that has a mental effect. How you get your laughs is up to you; maybe you’ve got great banter with certain friends, or you watch your favourite comedian’s stand-up, or you try a laughter yoga class (highly recommended if you don’t mind feeling ridiculous with a bunch of strangers!) Laugh at yourself, too, when you do something silly. You’ll feel lighter inside, and the act of laughter will make your body feel less tense.

You only have one body, why not take the time to show it some active love?

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