You know the feeling of the rat race going on and on and on…
And, somewhere along the line you find yourself feeling agitated, tired, and disappointed with yourself because you didn’t achieve the things you wanted to, and you couldn’t live up to all the expectations you’d set for yourself.
This is the time for you to take a deep breath, take a look around, and return to the present moment.
Here are seven mindful and self-loving acts we can start doing today, to bring more mindfulness and self-care into our lives:
1. Shower or have a bath.
I know, it sounds like a cliché, but hear me out.
When we are too caught up in our own minds, in our busy schedules, in the expectations we have set for ourselves and so forth, we often forget to take care of the most important person in our life: us.
Having a bath, burning essential oils and incense, massaging ourselves, putting on our favourite body lotion and pajamas, these are such small things, but they let us know that we are worthy of being taken care of, that we are worthy of investing time in.
2. When a “negative” feeling arises, learn to sit with it.
Escapism is not only doing drugs, drinking alcohol, and having anonymous sex; it is also overscheduling our week, working out when we really should be resting—it’s every action that prevents us from having one single moment to do absolutely nothing.
Does this sound scary to you? Doing nothing?
Then, you might be trying to run from something.
But what were to happen if you sat down with yourself, especially when you felt something uneasy, and made room for it?
Feelings cannot hurt us, for they are just feelings, but they are often our soul’s and mind’s compass; it can be fatal to ignore it.
Would you keep heading south, even if your compass showed you that the way home was north?
A way to become more mindful and to be a better friend toward ourselves is by learning to sit with ourselves: negative feelings, trauma, triggers, and things that need to be seen, felt, and heard.
3. Use all five senses.
How often do we ignore what our eyes see, what our ears hear, what our tongue tastes, what our nose smells, and what our body feels?
How often are we so caught up in our own minds—thinking about what to cook for dinner tonight, what our co-worker said last week that hurt us, the blog post we read on our lunch break today, and hundreds of other things—that we completely forget that we are only here, right now, in this very moment?
Returning to our senses is an incredibly effective way to practice mindfulness and to return to life.
Focus on what you can see around you; perhaps the colour of the sky is extra-special today or the purple flowers on the sidewalk make you smile.
Pay close attention to the sounds around you.
Smell the air, and feel how it makes your body feel.
Return to your body. Return to yourself and this moment.
4. When you’re about to make a decision, listen to your gut, then act accordingly.
How many of us are guilty of saying yes to something even if something inside of us repels it?
And how many of us are guilty of saying no, because we feel like we should?
Whenever you are faced with a decision, the most mindful and self-loving thing you can do is to take a deep breath, close your eyes, and listen to what your gut is telling you.
Is your friend asking you to go out for lunch on the weekend and you say “Yes, I’d love that!” But, actually, it feels “off” in your stomach?
This is what happens when we ignore our gut feeling, our soul’s compass, our inner guidance, and the one who knows us best.
This is self-betrayal and leads us astray from self-love; because we are not making our own needs our best interest.
And as the saying goes: we cannot pour from an empty cup; and we cannot be present for someone else if we are betraying ourselves.
Learn to listen to your gut.
5. Be creative.
I know—you probably don’t have time.
But remember: it’s never about time, it’s always about priorities.
Have you ever thought about the fact that this entire universe was birthed in creation? That when we are creative, our only intention is to play, have fun, unleash our inner powers, and see what potential the moment holds?
Whether you like to write, dance, paint, draw, mould, play guitar, or sing, you disengage from your thoughts and let yourself become lost in the moment.
Unfortunately, as adults we don’t tend to prioritize creativity unless it’s our paid living, because we always find something else to do.
Yes, your floors look a bit dirty and needs mopping, but your soul needs nurturing too.
So create. Big or small, it does not matter.
6. Engage in pleasure more often.
Are you one of those people that only wants to let yourself feel pleasure after you feel like you “deserve” it?
Yes, I used to be like that too.
Pleasure, for me, was used as a “carrot” after I’d worked hard enough to earn it, and I would feel guilt if I did anything to please myself without deserving it.
But would you deprive a baby of pleasure because it hadn’t “earned” it? Never. You love the baby and want to do anything in your power to make it happy.
So, why are you not treating yourself this way?
If you are having that glass of red wine with your dinner—enjoy it.
If your partner decides to give you a foot massage—enjoy it.
If you have a bath and are reading your favourite book—enjoy it.
Pleasure is our birthright, and we need to nurture the connection between self-love and engaging in pleasure.
You don’t have to do anything to deserve pleasure.
You simply have to be.
7. Keep a journal for your mental health.
When your co-worker or your friend’s vibe feels “off,” you ask them, “Hey, are you okay today?”
Don’t forget to do the same with yourself.
Oftentimes we can go through life without ever checking in with ourselves and without being aware of our feelings, our emotional triggers, and especially, our subtle growth.
Did you feel sad today? What made you feel sad? How did you cope with it?
Did you forget to take your medication last night? How did your body react?
Did you have an anxiety attack today? What caused it?
Writing down our feelings and what goes on in our minds keeps us close to ourselves and brings us back to the present moment, yet we still reflect in such a way that is beneficial to us.
Keeping a journal for our mental health is yet another way of loving ourselves.
And always remember: loving yourself is a rebellious act!