There's something about turning 35 that has changed me. I mean, it's only been 2 months, but I am mentally in such a different and better place than I've ever been. I can't put my finger on why, though I suspect my latest life change has something to do with it, but my attitude shifted in such a way that I feel a profound need to take care of myself and really live my best and most authentic life.
A big part of my internal change is my determination and need to put self-care at the top of my to-do list. I want to take care of myself and do things that make my soul happy. Changing my Sunday habits to be productive has been a great change that I've been incorporating into my life, and now I'm working on the self-care part.
With that, I'm debuting a 3-part series on the different types of self-care you can practice, and what specifically you can do to practice some mental self-care in 2018.
If you read my first book review you know that I'm a big big reader. But reading isn't just a personal hobby of mine that I'm trying to push onto you, it's also good for your brain. It challenges you and exercises your muscle memory, and I think it's good for the soul to get lost in a really good book.
Whatever you do it's important to not feel any pressure to read a certain book. If you wanna read 50 Shades of Grey than do it. Love a good biography? Awesome. Need an easy suspense novel to breeze through? Great! Reading is supposed to make you happy, so forget the pressures of reading what you think you should read, and go ahead and read whatever you want.
I'm going to be really up front and confess that I don't meditate. But I'm putting this on the list because it's something that I want to do. It probably has something to do with my mission to find inner peace and put myself first, but the reality is that most of us don't get to have these amazingly relaxing days where we float through life feeling calm and collected 24/7. We get busy, we have deadlines, we have families, we have commitments - that's life. Finding a way to center yourself and find inner peace will help you take care of yourself mentally and I have a suspicion it's something we all need to work to find.
In other words, be thankful and appreciative. To the stranger who holds the door for you, to your children for being these amazing little people that will bring love into the world, to your partner for doing small like making dinner or doing laundry. There is a reason that people talk about small acts of kindness the power of saying "thank you" to people, and you will likely find yourself on the receiving end of gratitude when you chose to show it to others.
As a bonus, I've created five 'Thank You' card templates that you can download for free. You'll see all the templates below and can sign up to get them delivered straight to your inbox!
Learn a new language.
I know that this isn't for everyone, but it's a long term goal and challenge that you can set for yourself, plus, you can reward yourself with a trip to a country that speaks the language you're learning afterwards so that you can practice your new skills!
There is no doubt that it will be challenging and will require work. Most things that are "worth it" are tough. But how fulfilled you are when you've put in the time and energy and reach a goal is what makes it worth it, so if you've always dreamed of traveling to another country (but want to know how to order food, talk to the hotel desk clerk, or find the bathroom), then challenge yourself to learning a new language!
Yes, I know that this is in many ways a physical thing you can do, but traveling isn't just about going to a physical location, it's also good for your soul. Learning and appreciating other people's cultures and ways of life is a good way to help put your life into perspective. Maybe it teaches you to slow down and appreciate life, maybe it helps put your bad days into perspective, or perhaps it opens your mind to the fact that we're one big global community and fundamentally changes the way you view what goes on in the world. Whatever impact travel has on you, it will open your mind and your soul and make you a much more well-rounded person.
Learn to say 'no'.
Saying 'no' can be tough on different levels. I get it. I've made the adult decision to say 'no' to something because I have to be up the next morning for whatever reason, and I've jealously scrolled through Facebook and Snapchat watching my friends have fun from afar. I've also said 'yes', attended something, and the entire time thought "oh my word, I want nothing more than to NOT be here." Thankfully I've gotten to a point in my life where I don't have FOMO any longer and I have no problem saying 'no' to the things that I truly don't want to do. I reserve my time for the people and activities that truly make me happy and have quit doing things simply to appease other people. So yeah, you're probably going to have to be an adult sometimes and say 'no' to things that you really do wish you could do, but your life will be so much fuller if you learn to say 'no' and give your time to the things that matter.
About 6-8 months ago I made a pact with myself to not look at my phone in bed. The exception would be if I got a text from a friend or if I was setting my alarm clock, but other than that no social media scrolling, no reading articles on the Internet, no looking at my calendar. And to be honest, it wasn't hard at all. I flip my phone on silent, plug it in, set my alarm clock and set it face down so I won't be tempted by the screen lighting up or the various sounds of getting incoming messages. It was perhaps easy for me because I love to read, an activity which I wish I had more time for, so it was the perfect excuse to bring a book to bed with me and dive into my favorite past time on a regular basis.
You're probably going to feel silly at first, but stay with me here: talk positively to yourself. Out loud. Tell yourself that you're good enough, tell yourself that you're strong enough, tell yourself that it's going to be okay - just tell yourself all of the positive things that you need and want to hear, regardless of that little voice of self doubt that may be chipping away at you.
I've literally stood in the grocery store looking to buy lunch and wrestled with buying the calorie and carb ridden bad food that I think I'm craving or the healthy and wholesome food that my body needs, and said out loud to myself "you're in control of this choice and you will make the good lunch decision and your body and mind will be so happy." I mean, I said it under my breath so no one would hear me, but it's a pretty empowering thing, and the truth is that we all need to give ourselves a break. We would never let a friend talk to us the way we talk to ourselves, so why we think that we're not deserving of the same self-respect that we expect from other people is disheartening.
Start simple. Start with one positive affirmation a day. Do it in the car, in the shower, in the mirror when you're getting ready - wherever you prefer. It will seem strange at first, but soon the feeling of positivity and overtake the feeling of silliness. I promise!
Once you get started implementing these self-care methods you'll find more inner peace with yourself mentally, and can start working on how to implement self-care physically and with organization.
Tell me - what are your favorite mental self-care methods?