8 Holistic Self-Care Ideas for A Healthy Mind and Body
Do you feel like you have been so busy and you haven’t had any spare time for yourself? Maybe you are so stressed and you feel like you are constantly running a full marathon that will never end?
You don’t want to feel fatigued and stressed all the time. So what can you do about it?
What you need is holistic self-care.
What is holistic self-care? How is it different from traditional self-care?
In this blog post, we will explore how you can incorporate holistic self-care into your life so that you will feel less stressed, more relaxed, and more connected with yourself!
That’s the spirit!
Let’s dive right in!
What is holistic self-care?
When you think about self-care, what do you think about it? Maybe going to a massage, taking a bath, doing yoga, and lighting candles?
So what does holistic self-care really mean? How does it compare to traditional self-care?
Traditional self-care means coming home after a long day of work, exhausted, stressed, and frustrated. You might draw a bath, pour a glass of wine, and light your favourite scented candles. Problem solved, right? Well, in holistic self-care, we can work at caring for ourselves throughout the day.
Of course, you can’t make every day perfect, but you want to make small decisions every day that put you in a position where feeling drained and miserable happens less and less frequently.
In holistic self-care, our goal is to treat the problem, not your resulting mental anguish.
I was so busy preparing to move to Vancouver and arranging my life here the past three months that I often felt overwhelmed, panicked, and restless. Feeling restless was the worst part!
I didn’t want to stay stressed, so I needed to find a way to feel relaxed.
This is when holistic self-care came into play!
Why do we need holistic self-care for a healthy mind and body?
Have you ever had an urge to stuff your schedule?
In this modern world, being busy is almost an honorable thing. I used to believe that too.
In the past, I made myself so busy because people around me were busy and I didn’t want to be left alone.
However, I don’t believe “I’m busy” is a proud statement anymore.
Why is that?
It’s because I’m aware of what “feeling busyness” can do to my health.
When your body senses stress, your heart rate goes up, your muscles get tense, and your senses get super sensitive. Which is OK if your busyness lasts for a short time.
So what will happen if you continue to feel busy? Well, your body may react with
- Shouder pain, neck pain, and back pain
- sleep problems
- digestion issues
- heart problems
- anxiety disorder
- feeling constantly overwhlemed
- substance use
Do you find yourself having any symptoms listed above? For me, I went through digestion problems, an anxiety disorder, feeling constantly overwhelmed, lower back and shoulder pain, and sleep problems.
You may not be able to cure all the health problems with holistic self-care, but you can certainly start feeling more relaxed, rested, and energized!
Can’t wait to see the 8 holistic self-care ideas? Let’s do this!
8 Holistic Self-Care Ideas
1. Identify what’s making you busy
When you are on autopilot, you may not notice what’s making you busy. You may actually have lots of stuff to do, but maybe you are doing things that you don’t NEED to do.
Do you know what I mean? This happened to me two weeks ago. I found myself making task after task to make myself busy!
Why does this happen?
Maybe you are numbing your feelings by getting busy. You may be feeling hurt, or lonely, or needing to make important decisions. If you get busy, you don’t have time to think about your pain!
- Write down all the things you got done today
- Identify the things you needed to get done and those you didn’t necessarily need to get done
- See if you can take a nice deep breath or meditate 1 minute next time you come up with a new task to do to check in with yourself
- Be compassionate with yourself while you are practicing to slow down 🙂
2. Learn to slow down
We are all good at making ourselves busy.
However when it comes to slowing down, it can be pretty difficult especially when our everyday life is tumultuous. This is why we sometimes have an urge to keep ourselves busy.
But HOW can we learn to slow down
Do you like meditation or yoga? I’m a big fan of meditation but I never meditated more than 10 minutes before, so I tried 30 minutes meditation as a challenge!
I never thought I could meditate as long as 30 minutes. So what happened to me?
I felt truly rested and peaceful for the first time in three months. I believe doing yoga or meditation for 10 minutes may not be enough to tame your super busy mind.
You may feel like “I don’t have 30 minutes to meditate!”. Really I bet you can make 30 minutes if you reduce spending time on social networks or watching Netflix, because that happened to me!
You don’t need to practice meditation 30 minutes straight everyday. You can do it when your mind feels busy or overwhelmed.
- Download a free meditation app called Insight Timer and select 30-minute meditation
- If you like, you can meditate in your garden or nearest park!
- Try to choose a place where you don’t get distracted. Let your partner know you will be doing yoga or meditation for 30 minutes.
- If you prefer yoga, check out my favorite yoga channel on Youtube!
If you are interested to learn more about meditation, check out my blog with a beginner’s guide to meditation!
3. Prioritize rest
Do you feel like you have too many things to do and you don’t have time to rest? I’ve been there too.
One thing I noticed recently is, there is no perfect time to rest. I repeat, there is no perfect time to rest.
Why is that? – Because we ALWAYS have things to do! Isn’t it true
So what can we do about it?
When things are too much, we NEED to give ourselves permission to rest. It takes some practice to get used to it and I want to share some tips with you 🙂
- Make lists of things you need to do for the day including work tasks and house chores
- Expect unexpexted events. Unexpected things always happen. Try not to stuff your schedule 🙂
- Schedule time to rest and follow it. It’s important NOT to push over your rest time!
- Be aware of your voice when you are telling yourself “I should do XXX” to see if you really need to do it now.
- If you worry about whether you finished all the tasks or not, schedule worry time (10-30 minutes in the evening), and focus on worrying. Try to ONLY worry about what you may still need to do outside of worry time.
- If you come up with more things to do once you finish everything you wanted to finish for the day, write down and see if you can do tomorrow 🙂
- Be flexible and compassionate with yourself 🙂
4. Know your limit
What does knowing your limit mean?
Well, I encourage you to learn your tolerance for busyness. Personally, I think my busyness tolerance is lower than others and I get overwhelmed and anxious really easily.
But it’s OK! Everyone’s limit for busyness is different.
So how can you find out your limit? It’s when you start to feel moderate to extremely overwhelmed or anxious, and I want to share some tips with you.
- Next time you feel moderately or extremely overwhlemed, write down what you were doing prior to that. Maybe you will find out a particular task can trigger anxiety or feeling overwhelmed.
- Once you identify your limit, try to schedule your day based on your limit.
- If you find a particular task makes you feel overwhelmed, you may want to ask for help or spare more time than you think you need.
Believe it or not, things got so much easier once I learned my limit because I could choose to get help, or avoid, or clear out my schedule to feel less overwhelmed!
Also check out my blog post about healthy coping mechanisms when life gets tough!
5. Day-tight compartments
Have you heard of the phrase, “day-tight compartments”?
It’s a principle invented by Dale Carnegie, and what it means is basically focus on today, not yesterday or tomorrow.
I got to know this when I was reading his book “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”, and since then, I keep this principle in mind whenever I start worrying about “what if this happens?”.
When we have so many things to do everyday, you don’t want to overwhelm yourself with what you’ll need to do tomorrow, or what you could have differently yesterday or in the past.
Did you know that staying in the present moment can increase your happiness too?
Harvard researchers described the relationship between mind-wandering and one’s happiness levels as;
“[…] how often our minds leave the present and where they tend to go is a better predictor of our happiness than the activities in which we are engaged.”
What does this mean? It means the more your mind leaves the present moment, the more you are likely to experience unhappy feelings!
So here is the question. How can we learn to stay in the present moment for happiness and less stress?
Well, how about meditating 3-5 minutes a day?
By focusing on your breathing, you will gradually get better at bringing back your wandering mind to the present moment. You can do this because even ex-meditation skeptics like me did it too!
6. Frequent stretches for your mental health
If you have been reading my blog, you know I always talk about stretching your body. I went through knee surgery three years ago and I’m deeply aware of how chronic pain can affect our mind.
On top of that, I often find myself feeling grumpy or easily get upset if I’m experiencing pain in my upper body or lower body.
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of regular stretching because studies show back/neck pain can lead to mental health problems.
According to the World Health Survey 2002-2004, if you are experiencing back pain, you are twice as likely to develop;
- Sleep deprivation
In the past, my chronic pain was so strong that I used to decline hanging out with my friends. Becoming more aware of physical pain is the key for better mental health, concentration, and sleep!
If you want to learn more about how to release neck/shoulder pain naturally, check out my article about natural pain relief!
7. Avoid being hungry for better mood
Do you sometimes skip breakfast because you are too busy to eat? Or maybe you don’t snack at all from lunch until dinner?
Personally, I get so grumpy, cranky, and even angry when I get hungry. I also find it hard to concentrate.
In fact, if you ignore your hunger and stay hungry, your blood sugar levels drop and this can make you feel tired and weak.
So what can you do about it?
Not only does the frequency of meals or snacks matter, the quality of the food matters. And I want to share some tips with you;
- Keep your breakfast simple and easy to prepare. (I always eat oatmeal with cinnamon and raw honey)
- Stock healthy snacks at home (I usually eat soft tofu with a little bit of soy sauce, or almonds with my homemade jam. Or you can simply just bite an apple!)
- Stick to your meal time. I know it can be sometimes difficult to eat at the same time every day but setting meal time can help you not skip a meal.
8. Check in with yourself frequently
It may be easier to take care of others than taking care of yourself sometimes.
How about checking in with yourself a couple of times a day asking yourself “How I am doing? How am I feeling right now?”.
Why is this important?
When your day is finished, and look back, you may think of your day as “bad” or “good”. However, if you pay attention to your mood throughout the day, you find there are little ups and down.
Checking in with yourself is the key to having more “good” days. Here is how you can do it.
- Ask yourself “How are you feeling?” once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
- If you get an answer from yourself “I’m anxious” or “I’m stressed” or “I feel overwhelmed”, how about focusing on your breathing for one minute with this guided meditation.
- If you find things are too much after the meditation, give yourself permission to take a break! Maybe take a sip of your favorite herb tea, go for a 5-minute walk or simply enjoy gazing at birds outside
- You can also try longer meditation to feel grounded and relaxed.
What did you think about the 8 holistic self-care tips I share with you? Pick one idea you like and give it a try this week!
Remember, it’s ok to have a bad day. We all do. When it happens, be compassionate with yourself and say “It’s ok to feel down sometimes”.