Updated: Sep 27
Self-care is not a luxury.
But it often is an item on our long to-do list.
And I don’t know about you, but if I am tired, or I didn’t have a good night’s sleep, I resent my to-do list. I want to throw it out of the window while shouting: “Go away and stop judging me!”
So self-care ideas that are simple and don’t feel like "yet another chore I must complete" are very popular with me.
Below you will find 5 simple self-care ideas you can do every day. I’ve collected them over the years and each and every one has been tried and tested. You can do them all in one go. Or you could choose which one to practice daily. Hope you find them useful and not as intimidating as other items on your never-ending to-do list.
1. Relax your shoulders
Every time a stressor comes into our lives, we tense our body as if to protect ourselves or be ready to run or jump away. It's our flight response kicks in. Hence, our body is the first thing that we should take care of when we finally prioritise self-care. And consciously relaxing your shoulders makes such a big difference to your wellbeing, posture and the mood. A more detailed description of the exercise could be found here.
How to do it
Sit or stand up straight.
Draw your full attention to your shoulders.
Repeat a few times.
You’d be surprised how quickly your shoulders go back to being tense. I recommend doing this exercise as often as you remember. Your body will thank you.
2. Find something to smile about
Our faces do seem to communicate our states of mind not only to others but also to ourselves. “I smile, so I must be happy." - Judith Grob
Smile releases a feel good hormone and floods our body with positivity. By choosing to put a smile on our faces, we help our brain to have a break from all those complicated thoughts. We also give our body a quick injection of happiness.
How to do it
Look around your room. Can you see your old family photos? Do they bring up wonderful memories? I am sure they do, otherwise you would not have them on display. See what else in your house could remind you to smile. Is there a plant that you saved and now it is blossoming? Isn’t it a good reason to smile?
3. Daydream about your ideal holiday
Daydreaming has real health benefits. It helps us to switch off our thinking brain and allows our tired mind to wander a little. When our mind wanders, it gathers thoughts and insights that are part of our subconscious. Those thoughts might be as useful as conscious thoughts, but we don’t allow them to come out because of our busy lifestyles. So daydreaming about something pleasant will yet again release feel good hormones, which are pleasant on their own. But it will also help us get unstuck.
How to do it
You don’t need any preparation, or special time dedicated to daydreaming.
When washing dishes or vacuum cleaning, instead of going through your to-do list, take yourself on your ideal holiday. Imagine where you’d love to go. Go crazy, dream big. Imagine the landscape, the temperature, the clothes you are wearing. Imagine the food and drinks. Imagine how you feel.
4. Things I did well
Remembering your achievements and being grateful is a wonderful and a beneficial exercise. It helps us to concentrate on good things and not dwell on bad ones. When we feel very negative about ourselves, it’s a good idea to create a list of things we are grateful for. If it does not help to solve your current challenges, then at least in might help with lifting your mood.
In one study, mentioned on Harvard Health website, a group had to write what they were grateful for for a week. 10 weeks later they appeared more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Isn't that encouraging?
My exercise is similar to gratitude journal. But you need to capture things you did well. And it does not matter how tiny those things were.
How to do it
Did you make a nice cuppa? Write it on your “I did well list”.
Have you done an excellent job brushing your teeth? Well done you!
Have you turned off your phone instead of partaking in the doom scrolling? Super well done you!
Take a sticky note, use your journal or diary and just jot down those things you did well. As many as you want. As trivial as they seem today.
Remember that tomorrow you might feel genuinely proud of yourself for doing something as simple as not staying on the sofa all day.
5. Stand on one leg
Every time you practise the one leg stance, it is an opportunity to recalibrate your brain, forming new connections and strengthening the coordination between your ears, eyes, joints and muscles. - Dr Michael Mosley
Now, let’s get physical, shall we?
We took a good care of our mood. We feel much better about our day. Let’s give our body a bit of self-care by standing on one leg. It provides tangible benefits to our health and wellbeing.
We improve our coordination, tone our legs, become stronger and more stable. In fact, this exercise is recommended for people in older age group as an easy but helpful exercise to keep their bodies fit. We don’t need to wait till we are older. We can improve our fitness in no time just by standing on one leg. Love the sound of it, don't you?
How to do it
When brushing your teeth, stand on one leg for a minute, then on another. When cooking dinner, try lifting one leg and balancing on another. Instead of sitting down on the sofa to watch TV, stand up and stand on one leg for up to a minute, switch the leg. Repeat as often as you like.
How I practice 5 Simple Self-Care Ideas You Can Do Every Day
When I forget to prioritise my self-care, my morning might look like this:
I work from home, so I’d make myself a cup of coffee and walk up the stairs to my “office”. On the way up I’ll be remembering all the things I need to do. Then realising the things I didn’t do. Then going deeper and deeper into my thoughts about should have, would have, could have.
My body would be tensing by a second, my mood getting worse.
In a few second’s walk up the stairs I would work myself up.
My day would start on a negative and stressful note.
When I remember to prioritise my self-care and use my 5 simple exercises for a daily practice:
I make myself a cup of coffee while standing on one leg and daydreaming about something pleasant.
Then I make my way up the stairs remembering to look at the photos that decorate the landing. It sure thing brings a smile to my face as the photos are of my children, my family and my loved ones. Oh, so many splendid memories.
I relax my shoulders and continue going up while reciting things I did well.
My coffee tastes like it was made at the best coffee shop. I start humming silly songs I usually sing to my children.
What a good start to my morning.
And there you have it! Self-care does not need to be a chore. It also does not need to be a boring item on your to-do list. My simple yet beneficial ideas will help you prioritise self-care and be a better version of yourself. Try it and let me know how it goes!