9 UNIQUE WAYS TO PRACTICE RADICAL SELF CARE
This ain’t yo normal self help list on how to practice radical self care. I’m not going to talk about bubble baths, weekends upstate or massages for days.
Nope, I’m going to share with you practical and mostly free ideas to help you when thinking about how to take care of your fine self.
1. LEARN SOMETHING
Your brain loves to learn, in fact it craves it. The problem is that the majority of us stop actively learning by the time we're 25. Sure, we cant help but keep up with the latest murder mystery podcast or pay attention to the news - but this is more for entertainment than for learning.
By challenging yourself to learn something new, not only are you promoting good physical and mental health, you’re also rewiring the brain. That means your intelligence is infinite with what your brain learns each and every day. Learning something new is also tied to preventing and/or prolonging the onset of Alzheimer's disease. Win win win!
2. DO SOMETHING WITH YOUR HANDS FOR RADICAL SELF CARE
Believe me. This is NOT what you think.
By taking on a hobby such as coloring or woodworking, you are promoting yourself to focus and to be mindful, both of which are important factors in cultivating a calm mind. Bonus points if you pair it with something new. Killing two birds with one stone as they say.
3. DO A LOAD OF LAUNDRY
It’s the small things that add up to be BIG things. I knew this guy who was severely depressed, addicted to food and video games, and refused to clean his house. Meanwhile, his bathtub was black from dirt, he kept every dish in his house dirty, and I’m not sure if he did laundry more than once every six months. I kid you not.
But that’s not where it started. It started with not doing the dishes one load at a time and having them pile up and become impossible to tackle. Then the shame hit when he realized that he couldn’t take care of himself properly. He then turns to food and video games to escape the emotion. The cycle repeated.
If you’re not worried about that happening to you (it can happen to anyone), think of it this way. If you keep putting off laundry, but it doesn’t leave your brain, it ends up taking valuable real estate in your worry bank and I bet you have enough to deal with. As Nike says - Just do it.
4. GET ENOUGH SLEEP FOR RADICAL SELF CARE
Granted, this is not a unique self care practice, but there is a reason getting adequate sleep is the center piece to any self help article. There are a number of negative side effects from not getting enough sleep, ranging from chronic fatigue, inability to integrate new information, lack of motivation, clumsiness, irritability and depression. Obviously we want to avoid that
How much is enough sleep though? Again, this depends on you - pay attention to how you get up out of bed each morning and go from there. You’re going to have to play around with the amount of sleep that is right for you.
Personally I feel most energized throughout the day if I get between 7.5-8 hours of sleep. No more or no less. However, science shows that 6-10 hours is adequate, but if you’ve been in the business of NOT taking care of yourself, I would suggest aiming for the higher numbers than the lower.
5. CULTIVATE SELF-AWARENESS
Cultivating self-awareness should be your first step in managing your mental health. Self-awareness allows you to process your actions in everyday life. Most people move through life simply reacting to situations from a place of pain and hurt. By being able to witness your reactions to hard experiences, it also allows you to recognize what emotions you are feeling. It also allows you to ask yourself why you are feeling them. Lastly, with proper cultivation, your self-awareness will allow you to choose the proper coping mechanism (part of your self care plan) to help you through whichever experience you’re dealing with.
6. SCREAM! YES - FOR RADICAL SELF CARE
As humans, we tend to mute a lot of our emotions, which can be very handy in the moment but extremely detrimental in the long term.
Let me lead you through a scenario.
Scenario a) A jerk cuts you off and steals your parking spot (even the best of us couldn’t stay zen in this moment). You scream bloody murder at him, give him the finger, drop the f bomb a few times, 15 minutes pass and you’re off on your day like nothing happened.
Scenario b) The exact same thing happens from jerky mc jerkison but this time you react differently. You get SUPER angry but choose not to scream because your mother is in the car. Nobody likes a tardy mouth she would say, so you bite your tongue. You try to brush it off and go about your day like nothing happened, but you’re picking a fight with everyone who crosses your path. You go home and you can’t sleep, thinking of that JERK.
WHICH SCENARIO DO YOU THINK IS BETTER?
If you answered scenario a) you would be correct. This allows you to feel your “negative” emotions, express them in a harmless way and move about in your day. Scenario b) results in you carrying around your emotions, ignoring your body's natural detoxifying systems (yes we detoxify from emotions too) and embeds that emotion into your physical body.
In conclusion, screaming is also a great practice for anyone who has trauma in their life, from childhood up until present day. Most of us experience that trauma in a fragile state, and our bodies natural defense mechanism is to pretend like the strong emotions we felt of fear or shame or guilt or terror or something else, settles into our physical bodies. Click here to read this article explaining more about this form of radical self care..
This one is my favorite. I personally do this while driving my car on empty streets, when I know for sure I’m 100% alone.
7. TRY THIS 90 SECOND BREATHING TECHNIQUE
Always wanted to meditate but could never make it work? Or maybe it just feels too dang spiritual. Whatever it is, I’ve got a great alternative for you, and it’s called breathing.
Breathing and meditation are core tenets of nearly every scientific, self help and psychological advice givers list when it comes to beating anxiety. That’s because by breathing deeply you are slowing down your brain and nervous system, resulting in feelings of calmness, a slower heart rate and sense of peace.
For this exercise, you’ll set a timer for 90 seconds and press start. Next you’ll close your eyes and inhale for 4 full Mississippis, and exhale for 4 full Mississippis. Repeat roughly 10 times, or until the timer goes off. Open your eyes and see what difference this short and simple exercise makes.
Two things to note.
1) If you find that your brain is having a hard time focusing on breathing, open your eyes for one breath and then close them - this usually helps me recenter
2) If you’re new to meditation, it’s normal to experience a little dizziness after this exercise. Make sure you’re sitting or laying down while trying this.
8. COOK A MEAL FOR YOUR FAMILY
The coolest thing about the unique practice for radical self care is that you can do this with or without your family. Just make sure you ask them, and not tell them to participate. If you think it would be better for you to do this alone, then do it alone. It’s your needs we’re encouraging you to focus on.
Regardless of if you cook with them or not, you’re also leading by example when it comes to self (and family) care. Bonus points if you can incorporate some form of healthy food into this activity - and if you can’t, that’s OK too.
As parents you're constantly teaching your children how to treat themselves and others. If you do not take care of yourself, they will 99% of the time not care of themselves by default.
Don’t have anyone to share this activity with? That’s OK! Light some candles and put on some music, or Facetime a friend.
Affirmations are simple sentences that enforce a certain characteristic you wish exhibit, in first person. Not buying this? Let me tell you a story.
Throughout school, I was above average intelligence. Yet, somehow I picked up the belief that boys only like dumb girls. I started making jokes about how I wasn’t that smart with hopes that the boy listening would find me attractive. I continued this habit of making self deprecating jokes for quite some time, continuing post graduation. Guess what happened? I found myself, not knowing simple, common sense things. I had accidentally made myself dumb by telling myself, I was dumb. It only made sense that I could use it to my advantage
There is great contention about affirmations in the science/psychology/self help industry. Some believe that it creates a level of inadequacy within ourselves if we say these sentences, and do not truly believe them. While others believe that in order to become strong, and truly believe it, we need to repeat it to ourselves. A catch 22. I’ll leave it up to you to test the theories out.
Here are my favorite affirmations are:
- I am brave
- We are patient
- I am resilient
Helpful hint: In order for this to work, it needs to be in present tense and like it is happening in the NOW.
NOT THIS: I WILL BECOME STRONG
THIS: I AM STRONG
NOT: I AM SOMETIMES FEARLESS
THIS: I AM BRAVE