I used to think about self care as massages, getting my nails done or checking into a hotel for a weekend away with hubby.
Having kids has changed that – in a good way.
Now, I don’t see self care as “fancy extras” that are a nice treat from time to time. It’s little things you do daily to take care of yourself. Itty bitty repeatable habits that, over time, mean you’re calmer, happier and healthier.
Nothing elaborate, nothing you have to schedule in your calendar, nothing you enjoy at the time then forget about a day later.
Below I’ve listed my faves, but to be clear, I don’t do all of them every day. I mix and match depending on how I feel. So no pressure – pick any that resonate, or use them as inspo to create your own list.
These self care tips below take less than a minute each, so even the busiest person can find time for them, yeah?
- Think of what you’re grateful for. Instead of hitting soon or jumping immediately to get your kids, in those precious few moment of waking up, make a list of 3 things in your head of things you’re grateful for.
- Drink a large glass of water as soon as you get out of bed. If it helps, leave a glass overnight next to your bed so it’s easy to grab and gulp first thing.
- Set an intention for the day. This could be a goal you want to achieve, how you want to feel or the mood you want to be in. Say it out loud for extra potetency: “Today I will be/feel/achieve ___.”
- Write yourself love notes. Post-its, your phone wallpaper, notes in your diary… whenever you’d see them regularly, be your own cheerleader by writing lovely things to yourself that make you smile and feel good. These could be affirmations, words that resonate or simply reminders of how you want to feel: “You’re doing a great job!”, “Today I’m patient and loving”, “I’m doing the best I can”, “I’m loved and loveable”, etc.
- Smile. Moving the muscles in our face into a smile actually produces feel-good chemicals like dopamine, instantly making us feel better. #science!
- Eat some chocolate. Seriously. You have permission. Choose a beautiful quality dark chocolate (my favourites are 85% Lindt or Pana) and enjoy it regularly. I literally had a few squares after breakfast this morning #sorrynotsorry
- Make a list of things you want. This could be little things like a new pair of shoes or something massive like a new house. Pin up the list somewhere you can see it and think of it regularly. Then watch the universe work its magic to help you out! Seriously, this sounds very woo, but give it a try. I do it all the time with fun, totally frivolous things. (The first time I tried this was with lipstick. Literally the next day someone in my mother’s group that had her own health store brought us three lipsticks she couldn’t sell because the packaging was damaged, but the product was perfectly fine. I scored two of them!)
- Take quality supplements. An easy win to help you bridge the gap between what you’re eating and what your body needs. But store-bought vitamins are often full of synthetic crap that our bodies can’t absorb or process. Instead, choose quality wholefood supplements. (If you’re interested in finding out more, send me a DM on Instagram (@jenna.westphal)!)
- Do something small you’ve been putting off. Making a phone call, sending a text or email, putting something away in a spare cupboard… if there’s a small niggly job you’ve been meaning to do but keeeeep procrastinating it, get it done! It’s a concept called ‘Eat That Frog’, where doing something gross (i.e. eating a frog, ha) early in the day means everything else after it will seem easy, plus you’ll have the satisfaction instead of the guilts about it finally being done.
- Diffuse essential oils. Yeah, they smell good, but they’re also proven physiological mood-boosters by how they impact our olfactory system (a fancy name for our sense of smell). Here’s how I use them every day. (And nope I don’t sell them, this isn’t a catch to get you to buy anything! 😉)
- Reduce blue light after 5pm. Screens like TVs and phone emit a blue light that messes with our melatonin, a hormone that regulates our sleep. If your sleep could be better, block blue light by a) scheduling ‘Night Time Mode’ on your phone, downloading a program like Flux onto your laptop, and wearing blue light blocking glasses. (I love neutral unisex clear frames like these babies.)
- Floss. Sorry to sound like your mum – but she was right. Put on your #adulting pants and floss nightly for good dental health!
- Set your clothes out for the next day. Reduce decision-making when it’s chaotic by already knowing what to wear.
- Charge your phone in another room overnight. Get yourself an old school alarm clock and put that phone away, sista. It’ll stop the mindless scrolling first and last thing, and gives you an incentive to do something more relaxing before bed like reading.
- Prime yourself for a great sleep. If your last thought of the day is, “Ugh, I can’t believe I’m only going to get X hours of sleep, I’m going to be so tired tomorrow, I need to get more sleep,” then guess how you’re going to feel when you wake up? Pretty darn average. Instead, prime yourself for sleep by creating a bedtime affirmation that you say it out loud last thing. Mine is along the lines of: “I can’t wake to go to bed and sleep soundly. I’m going to get the exact amount of sleep I need to feel great tomorrow morning. In the morning I’ll wake up feel refreshed and excited to start the day.” Try it yourself and literally feel the difference!
These take a bit more time investment, but they’re so effective they’re worth including!
- Make a smoothie to get in greens + good fats (5 mins). Veggies for breakfast? Sounds weird but totally do-able when you pack them into a green smoothie. My favourite recipe is: ½ small avocado, a handful of spinach, a small piece of zucchini (completely tasteless!), a frozen banana, a cup of liquid (I like coconut water or almond milk), and 1T chia seeds. Blend and enjoy.
- Spend some time soaking up the sun (5-10 mins). Did you know getting sun on your skin is proven to make us feel better?And doing it first thing in the morning has added benefits, because sunlight regulates our cortisol production (which effects our energy).Bonus points if it’s in nature or somewhere green – even if that’s only your garden or a nearby park.
- Do an oil pull (10 mins). Oil pulling is when you swirl around a dollop of oil in your mouth. It’s said to draw out impurities and give your gums and teeth a tip-top cleaning. Instead of just brushing, it’s the equivalent of taking your car to a war wash instead of just hosing it down in your garage. I use about a tablespoon of coconut oil and do 10 minutes a few times a week. You spit the oil out afterwards (into the bin, not the sink) and clean your teeth as normal, then your mouth is left feeling sooo good. I sometimes add a drop of essential oils for a lovely taste too.
- Do something creative (10 mins). Free drawing (I’m obsessed with drawing mandalas at the moment), adult colouring in books (I should clarify – colouring books for adults, not adult-themed books, ha! Although that would be interesting… 😉), painting (have you seen paint-by-number sets are becoming popular?!)
- Move your body gentle (10 mins). Light yoga or even just stretching is sooo good for our body. My fave 10-minute sequence by the legendary Yoga With Adrience is on YouTube here, which is perfect for beginners.
The thread that ties these all together is consciously creating moments to prioritise yourself.
And as a reminder: putting yourself first isn’t selfish. In fact, it’s crucial to being the best person, wife, mama and friend you can be. When you’re happy and healthy, that flows on to everything and everyone around you.
It’s easy to get trapped in the mode of “putting everyone else first is just what you do”. I can’t tell you how many clients and friends who’ve said “Jenna, I’m just in survival mode at the moment. I just have to get through what I can, and one day I’ll have time for myself.” If that’s you, lovely friend, I’m sorry but I gotta call BS.
No-one “has” time for themselves – we all have to make time. Because we’re worth making time for. We are just as important as our kids, our husband, our jobs, the laundry. So if you find yourself getting stuck in thoughts like that, repeat the below to yourself:
- Self care isn’t saying “me first”, it’s saying “me too”.
- I’m a better wife and mum when I take care of myself.
- When I’m happy and healthy, that flows to everyone around me.
- I can’t pour from an empty cup: I need to fill up my own cup first.
- No-one has time for themselves; I have to make the time because I’m worth taking care of.
That’s the best place to end this on – you are so worthy, lovely!
P.S. If you have your own self care tips, other women may love them too! Let me know what they are in the comments below.