January can be a tough month when maybe we aren’t feeling our best yet we are expecting a lot from ourselves. We are on a downer from Christmas, the days seem gloomy and long and it might seem a long time until we see the sun or get away. It can be hard to get back into our normal routine and on top of this, many of us make New Year's resolutions which add extra pressure to an already difficult month.
So if you have already broken your New Year's resolutions and are feeling bad about it, or struggling to get going this year, throw away that negative energy and focus on what you can do to feel good instead. The next 7 days are all about feeling good in our bodies, in ourselves.
Let’s reframe self care
Self care is essential. As women we tend to always come right at the end of the to-do list and I am sure you have heard the common phrase “you can’t pour from an empty cup”. Self care shouldn’t be seen as a luxury or a once in a blue moon treat, we should endeavour to look after ourselves daily for ourselves and others around us.
We live in a busy fast paced society where often our brain is already on to the next task without completing the one we are currently doing. Any moment of space is filled with replying to messages, thinking about what to cook for dinner and a million other things on the to-do list. Any tiny moment, our brain springs up with something else that needs to be done.
Being busy or stressed (or both!) triggers the release of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol can contribute to feeling tired and wired, anxious, depressed, irritable, foggy and cause sleepless nights, all at the same time. Cortisol will also impact our other hormones which may exacerbate hormonal problems and make it very difficult to lose weight. So if weight loss was on the to-do list this year or to finally get to the bottom of what is going on with your hormones, rest assured this feel good week is still working towards those goals….we are just taking a different approach.
A block I hear quite often in clinic around self care is that it is expensive or it takes up too much time. If you are thinking right now you don’t have the spare cash or time to spurge on a weekly massage, don’t worry, I’ve got you. Self care does not have to come with an expensive price tag and it doesn’t have to take up a lot of time either. Of course if you want to indulge in a spa day or take a long hot soak in the bath on a daily basis, then be my guest!
We need to reframe self care into something that we do every single day. Just like we brush our teeth every day, self care needs to become non-negotiable. It is just something that we do to look after our human. And my hope for you is that the next 7 days show you how easy it is to incorporate.
None of my recommendations are expensive or take up much time, so I am hoping they should be doable for everyone. Yes they do require some headspace and if you are already thinking you don’t think you have time for this, then being blunt, you need to look at your priorities. I strongly believe EVERYONE can find 5 minutes in their day to practice self care. It might mean getting out of bed 5 minutes earlier, or 5 minutes less scrolling. We ALL have 5 minutes we can give to support our health and happiness.
So here are my top 7 tips for self care and to get you feeling good. My advice is take one each day of the week and by Sunday you will be full of all the good feels.
7 days of feeling good
DAY ONE - Grab your journal or a piece of paper and answer these two questions.
Write down one thing you love about yourself
Now this needs to be something you actually love about yourself, like really truly believe it. You can’t force yourself to love a part of you that you aren’t comfortable with, your subconscious brain will never get on board with that. Yes, in time you can absolutely change the way you feel about a part of you, but this week I want you to focus on what you already love.
I do this exercise with most of my clients and it is heart-breaking how many struggle to find even one thing they love about themselves. If you are struggling, maybe look in the mirror, is there a particular part of your body that you really love? It could be the colour of your eyes, the curve of your hips or how shiny your hair is.
If finding something you love about your body seems too difficult at this stage, reflect on the past few days, was there part of your personality that really shone or a particular way that you reacted to a situation that you loved?
Whatever it is, write it down. The only rule, you must wholeheartedly believe it.
What are you grateful to you for?
Our brain is hardwired to focus on the negative. They’ve done studies. Practicing gratitude generally is great for our mood but I specifically want you to focus on what you are grateful to you for this week. We never give ourselves enough credit. It could be as simple as you are grateful to yourself for taking the time to read this post to support you and your health.
DAY TWO - Drink more water
This is really quite a basic one, but we often forget to keep hydrated. We are about 60% H2O and dehydration can contribute to us feeling tired, fuzzy and just a bit off. Dehydration also kicks off cortisol as dehydration is perceived by the body as a danger. This tells the body to conserve energy and to drop our metabolic rate so it can hinder weight loss.
The colour of your urine is a good gauge…aiming for the colour of Pinot Grigio and as a general rule aim for around 35ml of water per kilo of body weight.
DAY THREE - Get clear on your boundaries
Boundaries are quite simply what you consider to be ok and what you consider not to be ok. And these should be personal to you, not other people's expectations. As women we tend to want to please anyone and everyone. It just isn’t possible to be everything to everyone and to keep on giving, although we give it a good go!
Set your boundaries. What is ok and what is not ok for you.
Be really clear with these and let other people know what your boundaries are. For example, I meditate and journal every morning and I have let my husband know that I would like those 15 minutes to be just for me and not to be disturbed. I used to get really annoyed if he would pop in to ask me a question but after explaining I need some “me time” first thing in the morning, I get that time and he respects my boundary around that habit.
It can also be really useful to consider who and what your priorities are in life. Who do you want to give your time to? This is often your inner family or close friends. And what other aspects of life are really important to you that you want to prioritise giving your time to?
You will probably have to get used to saying no which can feel quite alien to begin with. But just know that it is ok to say no. Once you know what your boundaries and prioritises are, it becomes a lot easier to see what to say no to.
DAY FOUR - Move your body for 5 minutes
5 minutes, that is all it takes to feel great. We can often see exercise as something overwhelming or too time consuming. We don’t know where to start, what to do and we really don’t have 45 minutes to give away.
I promise you, after just 5 minutes, you’ll notice a difference. However you like to move your body, do that. Whether it is walking, running, dancing, stretching, jumping around your living room like a lunatic or swimming - do that!
And if you don’t know where to start, start with a 5 minute walk outside in the fresh air.
DAY FIVE - Be more mindful
I can’t express how different my brain feels when I practice mindfulness or meditation consistently. I feel calmer and it feels like I have much more space and capacity for the important things.
If you have a regular meditation practice or previous meditation practice I encourage you to get that in today (and hopefully the next day and the next day). If you are new to meditation and want to give it a go, there are plenty of YouTube videos to get you started and I can recommend the app Calm (who also have a few free YouTube videos online).
If the thought of sitting still for 5-10 minutes fills you with dread, then don’t worry, you don’t have to miss out on today’s task. When doing tasks that our brain feels comfortable with e.g. brushing our teeth, washing the dishes or even driving to work we go on autopilot mode, which allows the brain to wander down other thought processes. Becoming more mindful and more present to what we do each day can make us more focused and feel calmer.
So I challenge you to think about where you can become more present each day? It might be one or all of the examples above, or it might be when eating your breakfast as another example. What does the food look like, smell like, taste like? What are the textures you experience as you chew? Really immerse yourself in this experience and take note of everything happening in the present.
DAY SIX - Get your diary out…
…and get things in your diary that you enjoy.
Book in time with friends and family that make you feel good. You know the people that you feel really great after seeing.
Book some holiday into your diary now. You might not be planning on getting away this year, but it is important we plan to take a break from work and our usual day-to-day life anyway.
Book in activities that you love. It might be as simple as blocking out a Sunday morning walk or blocking out an evening each week to read a book.
It is important that we take time to do things that bring us joy and if they aren’t scheduled, it is easy to become too busy or to forget.
DAY SEVEN - Prioritise sleep
So we all know we feel better after a good night's sleep but how many of us actually prioritise it? Sleep has so many benefits for our health and how we function each day. Everything seems that bit easier, we are that bit nicer and that bit more productive when we have had a good night's sleep. If sleep has fallen off your rader, take advantage of today to make sure you get your zzz’s so you can start tomorrow feeling fresh.