40 Self-care strategies

We all get preoccupied with our personal, social and professional life sometimes. In doing so, we often forget that self-care is quite important. After all, ‘mens sana in corpore sano’ or ‘a healthy mind in a healthy body’ is one of the biggest and best gifts you can give yourself. For those less fortunate in the health department – including yours truly – you can adopt a few easy steps to make yourself feel better physically, mentally and emotionally.

You can only move forward in life when you take ownership of everything in it, my mantra is ‘Life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

With that in mind, so, practising below hints makes them a lot more easy to follow.

Morning

  • Wake up early. Carpe diem! You get a lot more done when you wake up early and seize the day.
  • Start your day with five minutes of breathing in deeply through your nose, holding your breath and then breathing out through your mouth. Put your hand on your belly, and feel it rising and falling noticeably while breathing. You can easily do this lying down or sit in a chair.
  • Add a good cleansing ritual by drinking a glass of warm water and lemon before having breakfast.
  • Continue drinking fluids every day, especially when you take a lot of medication.
  • Take as much time for breakfast, lunch and dinner as you need, and let the food settle in your stomach before sitting or lying down again to avoid indigestion.
  • Don’t forget to get the necessary rays of direct sunshine to get some vitamin D. Cloudy days limit your intake and sitting behind glass doesn’t produce vitamin D, so you need to go outside and find some sunshine.
  • Prioritise your daily or weekly tasks to get as much enjoyment and time out of it as possible.

Noon/Afternoon

  • Go to the park for lunch. If it’s raining, find yourself a quiet spot to read and write, and drink some coffee or tea, and just let your mind run free.
  • Learn the power of delegating: any task that drains you, can or should be transferred unless the task can be done by you only.
  • Practice meditation and yoga in bite-size pieces, and really focus on your breathing.
  • Whether it is power-napping or longer naps, if your MS fatigue or normal tiredness kicks in, go for it  if time allows!

Evening

  • Set aside 15 minutes of uninterrupted me-time to wind down after work/being busy all day.
  • If everything in your food cupboard has the colour beige, it’s time to exchange all those carbohydrates for healthier, colourful fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • If you have a pet, go for a walk, play, stroke or cuddle it, it’ll benefit you both. According to WebMD, it can lower your cholesterol, enhances your mood, help with your depression; and it’s good for the heart amongst a myriad of other benefits.
  • Write the old-fashioned way in an old-fashioned diary and share your thoughts and feelings about today. Self-assess your day (but be honest!) and realistically look back at what worked and didn’t work today, and find ways to do things differently tomorrow.

Night

  • After the necessary calls, emails and texts have been answered, plug out. Turn off your laptop, smartphone and other communication devices that otherwise keep you awake at night. Enjoy the company of those living with you without being interrupted every five minutes by a beep, bleep, ping, you-got-mail or other notification sounds.
  • Try to sleep unplugged from the outside world also, or if that is a step too far, mute certain people or apps on your laptop, tablets and mobile phones.
  • If you can, keep a window ajar to let in fresh air. This way you can avoid waking up with a headache from sleeping in a stuffy room.
  • Sleep in a pitch black bedroom.

Week

  • Change the way you go to work, the gym, the library, the shops, or take another route and take in the world with new eyes.
  • Make an appointment at the gym, beautician or physiotherapist once a week or every fourteen days to enjoy a massage or other holistic treatment.
  • Schedule lunch with a friend once a week.
  • Find an exercise that you enjoy and that you can do several times a week.
  • Challenge yourself and do something you always put off, it’ll make you feel better as a person, and your confidence will soar.

Month

  • Book an appointment with the hairdresser or beautician, pamper yourself!
  • Schedule two-week or month-long holidays throughout the year, just because.
  • Plan days in your calendar month to do absolutely nothing.
  • Catch up on things you have put on the back burner. These can include your taxes, going to the dentist, a checkup with the doctor, and so on.
  • Learn to say “no” to more things if you’re not feeling well. Even when you are feeling well!

Mental goals

  • Brain training is not just a buzzword, it is scientifically proven that keeping your mind fit bring all sort of benefits.
  • Love yourself, but be realistic about yourself. A cough doesn’t mean you’re dying. There is no substitute online for an office visit with medical personnel.
  • Think positive! It might take some time to learn, but once it kicks in, it changes your whole outlook on life.
  • Make a list of all the compliments people give or have given you. It’s an excellent pick-me-up when you need it most.
  • If you fear failure before you even started a task, goal or job, you have lost already. Trust yourself. The universe is not out to get you; it has a lot more important things to do.
  • Keep learning new things, like a language, sport, or something you always wanted to learn
  • Make to-do lists. Using lists helps you tackle tasks you otherwise put off constantly.
  • Also, make a list of your long and short-term goals and aspirations.

Practical long term goals

  • If you want to make life easier, remove people who bring you down and add nothing to your life.
  • Declutter your home, too. Get rid of anything that doesn’t make your life easier or more beautiful.
  • Dance to whichever music you like, and for as long as you like and as silly as you like. If you’re immobile, dancing sitting down is possible also, as long as you move your body somewhat and enjoy it.
  • Move the furniture around in your living or bedroom, it introduces “a new way of living” and adds a nice change to what you see day in, day out.

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Note: I use the Body Scan Mindfulness meditation which comes in 20 minutes or 40-minute sessions. You find them on Spotify, YouTube or the internet in general. If you don’t have that much time, you can easily halt the meditation when you need to, which makes the Body Scan the perfect meditation (for me).

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© Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me, 2011-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner are strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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