Do you ever forget to prioritize your self-care? I definitely do.
There are times when I’ll be in the middle of a big, exciting work push and I’ll forget to have any proper fun, downtime, or self-care for weeks on end.
And then it catches up to me.
My shoulders are hunched… my left eye is twitching… and I’m forgetting how to do basic things like walk down stairs without tripping over my feet.
And in those moments, the only thing that can save me from myself is a full-on self-care overhaul.
In order to avoid getting to a place of burnout, I have found that incorporating these following twelve things into my life helps me to steer clear of ever feeling too run down.
So whether you’re long overdue for some rest or you’re just looking to be proactive, here are twelve self-care tips you can use to relax and have more fun.
Try out a handful of these things and you’ll be surprised how much more happy, balanced, free, and, ultimately, productive you’ll be.
1. Stop being productive
One of the hardest things for a lot of people to do is to get off of the treadmill of being constantly productive.
The majority of my clients see every element of their life as something to squeeze another sliver of productivity out of. If they’re on an airplane, they’re getting work done on the plane’s wifi. If they’re driving, they’re listening to podcasts. I even had one client who timed himself as he styled his hair in the morning in order to syphon a few extra minutes of productivity into his weekly work schedule. And while living with a high degree of intentionality is a great aim to have, if it’s a 24/7 endeavour with no breaks, the law of diminishing returns will take over and you’ll feel absolutely exhausted while getting less and less done.
When everything in your life gets measured, you start to feel like a lab rat. It’s imperative that you allow for the time and space to let go of being productive.
If this sounds like you, make it a goal to be completely unproductive for ten minutes a day. That might mean laying on your bed in the middle of the day (without any self-development program playing in the background), playing/laughing with friends, or sitting in a bubble bath for a part of your evening.
If your day is jam packed with productivity, then it’s likely that by the time you get to bed your mind is racing with all of the things that you still want to get done.
Counteract this phenomenon by prioritizing short periods of quiet throughout your day. And I mean that in every sense of the word. Environmental quiet and internal quiet. Maybe you live in a noisy big city and have to put in ear plugs to get some peace of mind. Or maybe you do a session in a sensory deprivation tank. Or you meditate in a quit, dark room for ten minutes. Do whatever works best for you.
One of my favourite self-care practices is the practice of self-beautification. Aka grooming.
Any activity that takes our focused attention that isn’t tied to our work (or whatever the thing is that we obsess over throughout the majority of our days) can be very calming and meditative.
Shaving, exfoliating, washing, showering, tweezing, oil pulling, brushing, flossing… whatever registers as grooming that you get some degree of enjoyment out of… do that.
Physical touch is very grounding and nurturing.
Cuddling with your partner (or a friend, or a pet, or a pillow), getting a massage, or getting a manicure and/or pedicure are easy ways to get your touch on.
Other things that involve dropping you into your physical body that don’t involve another person, like sitting in a steam sauna or wading around in a pool or hot tub, can also be highly beneficial and calming.
5. Spend time with food
Fill up a full sized swimming pool with chocolate pudding and go for a swim.
What? But seriously. If you have the desire and the budget to do that, please send me a photo.
Cooking can be very meditative. Whether you particularly enjoy cooking or not, set aside some time and cook yourself a slow and nutritious meal.
The creation of it will be calming, and the consumption of it will be restorative on a cellular level. Bon appetit.
6. Prioritize playfulness
Sometimes laughter feels like shaking tension out of your body.
Hang out with a funny friend and bullshit with them for a while, go to a live comedy night, or watch a funny movie that you adore.
7. Invest in the beautification of your environment
Just as you beautified yourself in step #3, now you get to do the same for the environments that you spend most of your time in.
If you’re reading this, I’m guessing that you live somewhere. And maybe you also work somewhere. And those places might be the same place. That’s cool too.
Invest in making your environments awesome. Add photos, decorations, soft things, nice smelling things… anything that makes your stomach relax and soften whenever you’re around it.
If you’re feeling stressed because you spend so much time in your head, then getting into your body could be one of the highest leverage things that you do for your overall self-care routine.
Dance around your house to your favourite music. Go for a walk. Go to the gym. Do jazzercise. Do whatever form of exercise feels fun (like it isn’t exercise, but just that fun thing that you do that happens to get your heart rate up for a while). And do it several times per week.
9. Five minutes of slow
Want to get off the metaphorical treadmill of productivity, stress, or anxiety? Do the following.
No matter what you’re doing or where you are, slow everything you’re doing down.
One of the best things you do in this realm is to go to your bedroom (any time of day), lie down, and slow every movement down so that you’re stuck in a slow motion realm for a minimum of five minutes. If you have to scratch your face, it should take at least ten seconds for your hand to get to your face. If you want to roll over, take your sweet time. Sloooowwwww down. And if you happen to fall asleep for a mid-day nap, that’s great too.
But one of the most practical applications of this exercise is to simply slow down whatever you’re actually doing by a huge margin. If you’re cooking, cook slower. Stir slower. Taste slower. Sip slower. If you’re working at your computer, type slower. Think slower. Respond to everything slower. Take your time.
Create things that can’t be considered as clearly benefitting your work.
Play make believe with your nieces or nephews. Play on a musical instrument. Write some bad poetry that no one will ever see. Start a blog. Try out a new recipe that excites you. Just create something.
11. Set boundaries
Sometimes we feel run down or burnt out because our energy is being leaked all over to things that we’d rather not be investing our energy in.
If that’s the case for you, then it’s boundary setting time.
Simply put… I define boundaries as our individual ability to say “No” to things that we don’t want (and yes to things that we do want). If there’s a difficult conversation that you’re overdue to have (for example, firing a client/customer/friend from your life) then setting a boundary might be one of the most self-loving things that you can do for yourself.
Once you aren’t leaking energy to a place you don’t want to be, it’ll be that much easier to keep the energy that you do create for yourself using all of the other action items in this list.
12. Have sex
Did you really think I’d be able to get through a list of self-care items without talking about sex? Not a chance.
Whether it’s with yourself or with a partner, sex is great.
Set aside some dedicated, uninterrupted time and nourish your body, mind, and soul by filling yourself up with sexual pleasure.
There’s no one size fits all advice for this situation, so do whatever you want to with someone who is equally as excited to play as you are.
Dim the lights, or don’t. Use lube, or don’t. Have sex or masturbate for three minutes, or three hours. If you have a partner, see if they’re up to do a spoiling session with you (either giving or receiving).
There are few things that capture your attention more than a good session of sexual play. So enjoy yourself. Let yourself sink into it and allow the world to fall away for a while.
Whatever your self-care regime looks like, you’ll have to try things out and find a consistent short list of things that work well for you.
Dedicated to your success,
Ps. You know what else is truly fantastic for de-stressing? Telling all of your problems to someone and having them tell you that you’re doing fine, and that you’re not crazy. If you want to do that, drop me a line. It can be very therapeutic to get the swirling mass of thoughts that are in your head, out.