Even the smallest acts of self-care can have big effects.
By the time we have reached midlife, as women, we have become natural caretakers. We wear the hat of mom, wife, teacher, nurse, etc., as we are always providing for those around us. It’s normal that we tend to put us last and don’t think it’s important to take care of ourselves, too. Some even think it’s selfish. Quite the opposite – it’s selfish to not take care of ourselves!
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Think about it, how can you be expected to care for those around you if you’re tired, feeling stressed, and that you just wish you could have five minutes to yourself? There’s nothing left for you to give if you’re constantly stressed, overwhelmed, and depressed. It’s important to take care of yourself – physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
Below you will find several ideas for things you can do to put yourself first occasionally so you can take care of YOU!
Get a Massage
A massage is an excellent way to have some time to relax, not just physically, but emotionally as well. There are probably several spas around you that offer massage services. Ask around for referrals or see if they have a website with testimonials. Spend some time researching before making up your mind. Something to keep in mind is that you’ll find different price points to choose from – most places have a few different time options for a massage (i.e. 30 minutes or 60 minutes). Obviously, the less the time the less the cost.
There are lots of different massage types you can choose from, but here are three of the most popular ones:
- Swedish Massage is popular and is the perfect starting point for someone who has never had a massage or someone looking for a very relaxing type of massage. In this type of massage, the therapist will use an oil or lotion as they massage and knead in long strokes as well as use circular motions too.
- Aromatherapy Massage is for the person that is under a lot of stress and has stress related ‘injuries’, such as sore neck, tension in the neck, back, etc. The therapist can choose oils that are specific for your issues, but a very popular one that is often used is lavender. If you don’t tolerate strong smells well, this probably isn’t the right choice for you.
- Hot Stone Massage is another popular massage. Perfect for tight and tense muscles, the therapist will use warm, smooth stones to gently massage your tension areas.
What to expect when getting a professional massage:
Licensed massage therapist – you can rest assured knowing that your therapist has been through school and training to develop their skills and ensure they know what they’re doing.
Health history – if this is your first-time meeting with your massage therapist, they should go over any health issues you have and talk about the areas of your concern (the areas you need massaged – back, neck, etc.) This process allows the massage therapist to create a massage that will be the most beneficial to you and your needs.
Remove clothing/drape yourself with a blanket – it’s up to you how comfortable you are. Some people will get fully naked while others will strip down to just their underclothing. It’s totally up to you.
Music – most massage therapists will play soft music in the background during your appointment. If you don’t like the music they’re playing, be sure to tell them. Or if you would prefer there be no music at all, let them know that as well. Remember, it’s up to you and what makes you feel the most comfortable and relaxed!
Technique – once your therapist gets started, depending on your needs and the type of massage there are many different techniques they may use. Techniques known as skin rolling, direct pressure, kneading, and gliding are some of the most popular.
Get a Mani/Pedi
What better way to relax than sit back and let someone pamper you? Heading to a local nail salon for a manicure and pedicure can be the perfect way to relax for a few hours. If you really want to maximize the relaxation benefits, leave your cell phone at home (or the very least, in your car) and instead bring a book or magazine and dive into that.
What to expect from a professional mani and pedi:
- Trained individuals – they went through schooling to learn how to properly provide manicure and pedicure services.
- Licensed – just as the manicurist & pedicurist are trained, the salon must be licensed. This ensures they are following proper procedures to keep their tools clean and disinfected/sterilized.
- Nail trimming – a good manicurist or pedicurist will ask if you would like to have your fingernails/toenails trimmed. It’s up to you whether you want this service done or not.
- Gentle massage – for a manicure, most manicurists will provide a light hand massage; for a pedicure, you’ll get a light massage on your feet and up your calves.
- Polish – and of course there’s the polish application. You’ll have lots of color variety to choose from at a salon.
As a side note, some salons will have different pedicure options to choose from. Aside from the basic, they may offer a spa pedicure, stone pedicure, or other specialty ones. Depending on what each one offers, the price will vary depending on the extra pampering you’ll receive.
Try a New Style
Do you rummage through a closet full of clothes and find things that don’t fit because they’re too small? Too big? Are you still holding onto your 90’s wardrobe? Do you live in yoga pants and baggy t-shirts?
If you answered yes to any or all those questions, it’s time to head out and try some new clothes and update your style. You deserve to look and feel great and a new outfit that fits properly and, in a style perfect for your body type is the perfect solution.
- Find a local department store where their sales associates will spend time chatting with you getting to know about your likes and dislikes. Let them measure you, if needed, to find what size you are. Let them make suggestions and pick clothes they think would be a good fit for you. I encourage you to keep an open mind – just because you used to hate dresses or skirts or anything dressy, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give them a try. You might be surprised to find that you like them.
- Try out Stitchfix, and online store that matches you to a style that’s perfect for you. The clothes are hand-selected by expert stylists and sent to you to try out. Keep what you like and sent back anything that you don’t. There’s no subscription needed, so it’s a perfect way to update your style.
You’ll know the exact moment you find the perfect outfit. You’ll just ‘feel’ it. Your eyes will light up, you’ll get a big smile, and you’ll feel great. It’s that one you should be sure to keep! You’ll be amazed at how something as simple as a proper fitting outfit can make you feel.
Take Yourself on a Date
For many women, fear of judgement holds us back from enjoying some experiences on our own. Things like going to a movie and enjoying a dinner at a sit-down restaurant are just a few activities we’re afraid to do solo.
As women, we spend too much time and energy worrying about what people around us will think if they see us going solo. We think people will look at us and feel sad or see it as pathetic (‘oh, she couldn’t find a date or friend to come with her, that’s so sad’). But guess what? In reality, most people won’t even be paying attention to you and won’t take notice.
Reasons you need to take yourself on a date:
- It’s empowering!
- It’s all about you – no need to worry about someone else’s time frame or what someone else wants to do. You get to make all the decisions.
- You learn how to enjoy your own company. But even more important, it will give you the time to learn how to be okay and be comfortable being alone with yourself.
Experiment with Meditation
There are so many reasons practicing meditation can help you take better care of yourself. It’s an all-in-one health benefit, meaning it’s great for you physically, spiritually and emotionally.
The more you begin experimenting with it and getting better at it, you will start to notice some of the health benefits – stress reduction, being more focused, having less anxiety or depression, better breathing, reduction in inflammation, and more.
Keep in mind, meditation takes practice. If you’re a beginner, don’t get frustrated if you find your mind wandering and you can’t concentrate for more than a few minutes (if even that long) at a time. It’s all about practice and teaching yourself how to do it.
If you’re looking for a resource to help get started, be sure to check out these:
- Ten Percent Happier – a book by Dan Morris, Nightline news anchor, about his journey from skepticism into mindfulness and meditation.
- Headspace – an app you can download dedicated to meditation.
- Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation: A 28-Day Program – this book will walk you through a four week program of learning different meditation techniques.
Treat yourself to a Retreat
This can be something personal, spiritual, or even professional in nature. Consider how much time you could take out to soak in an immersive event experience. There are one day events you can find locally on everything from eating right to learning to meditate and there are amazing multi-day events hosted all over the world for a deeper dive into subjects and activities.
Some retreat focus possibilities include: Writing, Yoga, Recovery, Healing, Mindset, Walking/Hiking/Running, Marriage & Relationships, Creativity & Leadership. Name your interest and you can find a retreat coming up in the next season.
- Retreat Finder – a world directory locator searchable by region or category.
Work with a Life Coach
It’s ok to admit that you have some things in your life you’re not happy with, that is perfectly normal. And it’s even ok to admit you could use someone on your side to help you work through those things. Admitting you need help does not make you weak.
Whether it be some extra weight you want to lose, self-esteem issues, or negative thinking (just to name a few) a life coach can help. A good coach will call you out on your bull crap, help you set goals and hold you accountable. And thanks to technology, you can do this online if there isn’t a coach local to you or you just don’t want to meet someone in person.
If you need a few more reasons why hiring a life coach is a great way to take care of you, here are some:
- Clarity – if you are struggling with what you want out of life or wondering what your purpose/passion is, a life coach can oftentimes help you get clear about these things.
- Unbiased opinion – having someone to talk to and bounce ideas of that isn’t family or friends is a great opportunity to get some unbiased input. We are almost always more open to hearing things from an outsider versus those we are closet to. A life coach can do that for you and give you a new perspective to think about.
- You want more – more balance, more happiness, more satisfaction. A coach can help you work on any mental roadblocks that are preventing you from moving forward and working towards those things you want more of. They can also help hold you accountable to working on doing things to help you achieve more of what you want.
Try Something Creative
What do you think of when you hear the word creativity? Does writing a novel or painting a masterpiece pop into your mind? Sure, those are creative outlets, but it can be something as simple as trying a new recipe, coloring, and more.
Don’t let yourself get hung up on overthinking and making creativity out to be something complicated, because it’s not. And it’s something that you should give yourself permission to do occasionally. Allowing yourself the freedom (and time) to be creative is a great stress reliever, relaxation technique, and an opportunity to have fun which in turn helps you live a happier and healthier life.
Not sure where to start? Here are some suggestions:
- Painting with a twist –It’s just like it sounds, painting with a twist. The twist? You are served alcohol and get to drink as you paint. How can you not have fun with a night of wine and painting? A quick Google search for ‘local painting with a twist’ should easily give you several options to choose from. Gather a gang of your closest gal pals and head on out for a night of relaxation and fun.
- CreativeLive – if you want to get your creative juices flowing but don’t feel like heading out into the world, why not give it a try from the comfort of your own home? From oil painting to photography to calligraphy (just to name a few), you’ll find endless free on-air classes.
Everyone has creativity within, it’s just a matter of giving yourself permission to let it out and try new things.
Remember, it’s not selfish to utilize some or all these self-care ideas on yourself. You deserve it.