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  • Julie Kosteas Baker

Swapping out selfies for self-care

2020 was the year of many things. And to get through those many things, we heard a lot of talk about "self-care". Some actually, (successfully), put that talk into action, and others still continue to grapple with it... because let's be honest: when the clock struck midnight on January 1, we didn't get to hit the reset button. Most of us continue to juggle lots of balls, on a unicycle, starring in our very own circus. We're chaperoning our children's education, while working from home, while not getting to see our loved ones, while trying to help our neighbors and communities, while watching the news with despair.


We're tired and run down... and can't possibly find time, or dare to find time for ourselves. But somehow we find time to scroll aimlessly through social media and/or watch every show that Netflix has to offer. (Even my 4 year old daughter proclaimed she got to the "end" of YouTube last month.) So, perhaps there is time for this coveted thing called self-care. But what is self-care; and what is it not?


According to the World Health Organization, self-care is: "the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote and maintain health, prevent disease, and to cope with illness or disability, WITHOUT the support of a healthcare provider." More simply put, self-care is: any action or behavior that helps one avoid health problems. In pre-pandemic times, we may have turned to spa days and mimosa brunches with girlfriends as our form of self-care. And while these respite activities do help us reset and reenergize, there are many more effective self-care activities and behaviors we can partake in; and do so more consistently, more frequently, and in a pandemic-safe way.


I've compiled a list of self-care practices and organized them across four domains. The beauty of each of these is that 1) they can be practiced daily and 2) only require 10-30 minutes a day to achieve health benefits. When reading through these, think of which ones will bring you JOY, as that will help determine which practices you're most likely to stick with.


cognitive

crafting. By all means, use your children as an excuse to start crafting!

puzzling. I particularly love this one because you can do it in 10-15 minute segments a couple times a day

reading. If you're reading close to bedtime, it's ideal to read a physical book over an e-book so to avoid messing up your circadian rhythms


interpersonal

cuddling. Big spoon or little spoon; humans or pets: it doesn't matter. Snuggling is so good for your soul.

meaningful relationships. Like, actually talking to friends about stuff that matters. Whoa. Deep.

volunteering. Boost your serotonin levels while helping someone/s out.


physical

dancing. The benefits here are underrated. Dancing improves your balance, coordination and strength, and immediately puts you in a good mood.

walking/jogging. It's preferable to do this outdoors so you can breathe in fresh air and gain the calming benefits of nature.

yoga and stretching. There are plenty of free, live or recorded classes you can follow on YouTube. Here's one: yogawithadriene.com/free-yoga-videos/


psychological

affirmations. These positive reminders or statements can do wonders for your psyche. Check these out: theblissfulmind.com/positive-affirmations-list/

meditation. There are many types of meditation. Healthline has a great overview:

healthline.com/health/mental-health/types-of-meditation#overview

prayer. This can be done aloud or silently. Here's a list of 25 short and sweet ones:

insider.pureflix.com/prayer-faith/25-encouraging-morning-prayers-to-begin-your-day


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Lastly, we (read: women) tend to confuse self-care with being selfish, when actually, practicing and maintaining self-care habits allows us to give more of ourselves to others. So don't think of self-care as on the continuum of selfless to selfish, but rather, a necessity for yourself and those you love and care for.


In good health,




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