How many times a day do you end up not doing something for yourself because you are too tired or don't have time? Every time you choose (consciously or unconsciously) not to promote self-care in your daily life, you are failing to prioritize. We all do this at some point in life, the problem is when it becomes a routine.
First of all, let's understand what self-care is. Basically, self-care is any action that aims to maintain your health and well-being. It is a care that you have with yourself, attention to your needs. Everything we do to increase our quality of life and take care of mind and body is linked to self-care.
Before starting working as a freelancer, I worked in a job that drained my energy and undermined the possibility of having some self-care moments throughout my day. After being stuck in the office all day, I'd get home totally discouraged and tired and with zero energy to do anything.
Still, on my daily routine, I sought small doses of inspiration and happiness. At lunchtime, I'd read or do something else that gave me pleasure. At night, twice a week, I did yoga. But my deepest desire was to have the flexibility of doing these more often, and consistently. Today, I’m glad that my freelance routine allows me to fit some precious moments of self-care throughout my day because they certainly make all the difference.
Now, I certainly value self-care more than I ever did. And although there are no rules for self-care and each one can and must find their own daily rituals, I’ll share a little bit of what makes my days lighter and, paradoxically, more productive, to hopefully inspire you to give yourself the love and attention you deserve.
1. Create a nice environment
Being a freelancer means being able to work from your bed. While there’s no problem in doing that every now and then, working as if you were watching Netflix will likely decrease your energy and the flow of ideas. Therefore, make sure you separate your leisure space from your workspace so you can set your mind and body into the work mode,
Personally, I like working on a proper desk, sitting on a very comfortable chair (trust me, the right chair can change your work life). And since the home office is my reality, I intentionally set my little “office space” separated from my cozy bedroom, where I go when I wanna have a break.
There, I really created my own sanctuary. I love candles, blankets, low light ... All of these gives me a very good feeling, so I try to rest in an environment like this during my breaks. This may seem little, but in addition to helping considerably in your concentration and productivity, the benefits of this organization will positively affect your emotional state as well. Especially because this separation will help you to know when to stop working. This brings us to my next tip...
2. Take restorative breaks
There are days when I organize myself to work fewer hours and do something I like in the middle of the day. An example that I put into practice the other day: I stopped working around 4 pm and decided to set up a cute “afternoon snack” table. I prepared some tea, got some cookies, and set up the table in a nice way.
It may seem silly or simple but brought me such peace. On my balcony, admiring the sky and enjoying my afternoon snack, I felt really good. In this opportunity, I've also read a few pages of a book and then went back to my activities. It was simple and quick, but really restorative.
3. Get in touch with nature
Another tip to promote self-care in your daily life (that works for me) is to connect more with nature. I have taken advantage of the sunny days here in Australia to practice yoga in the garden, even if only for fifteen minutes. The simple contact of the feet with the grass leaves me feeling grounded and calm.
After incorporating this into my routine, I started to think - how can we forget the power of nature? I got used to always being inside, whether to practice yoga or another activity. But I guess that in the midst of all the things quarantine has taught us, a big one was not to this time in nature for granted.
So whatever you like to do in your free time, if you have a backyard, or live close to a beach or park, why not go there? Trust me, a fresh breeze will give a sense of well-being like nothing else.
4. Have your own rituals
I'm not a big fan of routine (that's why I didn't fit into the corporate world), but I like to create some rituals. An example is that almost every day before bed I read and drink tea (yes, I’m addicted to tea as you can tell). I like to have this moment of my own at the end of the day and to look forward to it. It is like a big warm hug after a day full of work and obligations.
5. Write on a Journal
Not long ago, I started journaling. Although I used to write many diaries as a teenager, that was something I had abandoned. Now, at every end of the day, I take the time to write my thoughts, reflections, and dreams. It has been a wonderful self-care experience that I'd recommend for everyone. And after all, as a freelance writer, you know how therapeutic writing can be.
Although I have been practicing meditation for a few years, I used to beat up on myself for not practicing in a certain way. I used to think “I have to meditate every morning”. And then, when I missed my morning practice for any reason, I wouldn’t meditate at all. It was all or nothing. Now I see that this mindset makes no sense. I usually meditate in the mornings right after my yoga practice, but if I don’t, that’s not the end of the world.
Because I no longer want to live without the benefits of my meditation throughout my day, I committed to fitting meditation some moment of my day, every day. So no matter how busy I am, I always find fifteen, twenty (sometimes more) minutes to practice.
The more I practice, the greater I feel, and that’s my reason for practicing every single day. But if you’re new to it, start on your pace and don’t make it an obligation, because doing so might end up being more bothering than helpful.
If you’re interested in this topic and curious about the other positive effects of meditation (cause there really are endless) you may want to check out these artiles: How Can Mindfulness Improve Your Productivity and 5 Health Benefits of Daily Meditation According to Science.
7. Say “no'”
Another important point when we are talking about self-care is learning to say "no", either to yourself or to others. Self-judgement and other people's demands can be very harmful. It is necessary to know how to dose and say "no" when necessary. Balance is essential.
8. Be alone and silent
Recently, I reflected n on the importance and the need for silence in my life. More and more I realize how taking a few minutes out of your day to empty my mind is important (and with this meditation can help a lot).
Staying only in my own company has also always been a great need of mine, which is why I insist on having this moment in my routine. Instead of jumping to social media and end up scrolling throughout your whole free time, choose to truly rest or to do an activity that will require your presence. I guarantee you - such simple yet powerful decisions always pay off.