I know! You’re a committed nonprofit professional. You’re crazy busy. Many people are relying on you. The holidays are here! And you’re likely anticipating important deadlines, your holiday shopping, and family/social/work events – long hours, long lines, lots of expenses, lots of traffic, and 1 million other stressful considerations…
Instead of spending December stressed out about your job, your finances, your time, or your energy level, why not commit to your own vitality and self-care? What would December be like if you did?
Sounds good, I know. But if you’re like me, you probably cannot schedule a massage every day. You need something else. You need a strong intention and a set of practical self-care tactics to employ.
Here’s a list of four, commonsense, foundational – yet often ignored – self-care activities everyone can do.
How important is breathing? Of course, it’s absolutely vital to human life! But did you know that many of us routinely (or exclusively) chest breathe without being conscious of it? Chest breathing, or shallow breathing, typically increases anxiety, stress, and even accompanies panic attacks. Shallow breathing is a form of holding your breath – don’t do that.
Tip No. 1: Increase the quality of your breath. Commit to belly breathing, meditating, or doing your favorite breathing exercises every day this month. My personal favorite is the Quick Coherence Technique.
2. Drink Water
How important is drinking water? Just like breathing, it’s absolutely vital! In fact, it’s estimated that a person can survive for only 100 hours without water. But did you know that many of us walk around in a mildly dehydrated state? You can become mildly dehydrated after a 30-minute run, or after drinking coffee during the day and/or some wine at the holiday party. Mild dehydration has been known to affect our moods, our ability to focus, and can make us feel headaches or more fatigue. Who needs that?
Tip No. 2: Increase the quality of your hydration. Drink more water and limit daily caffeine/alcohol consumption.
How important is slowing down? Well, that might be a subjective one. Many of us fail to lunch, don’t take regular breaks, and may even believe that we’ll sleep when we die. But we all know what it’s like to be around a person (or kid) who is tired and cranky all the time. Rest is absolutely vital! It rejuvenates the mind, loosens tight muscles, and cleanses your insides. Bonus: you can do it anywhere, anytime.
Tip No. 3: Increase the quality of your rest. Take frequent breaks. Be patient. Exercise tolerance. Walk instead of run. And get more sleep this month.
4. Have a Go-To Activity
Everyone should have one or two self-care activities that they regularly turn to. These are the things you know will always get you back on track regardless of how tired, stressed, or anxious you may feel. Having this kind of resilience is absolutely vital! Mine is my morning routine. Without fail, my day is exponentially easier when I complete my go-to morning musts. My morning musts include: 30 minutes of reading, 30 minutes of meditation or HeartMath, and a physically challenging workout.
Tip No. 4: Have an immediate self-care action plan. Commit to doing at least one or two things every day that you are certain will improve the quality of your life.
Now I know what you’re thinking: Come on, Doug. Breathe, drink water, rest… you’re kidding me!!
I’m not kidding you. My very own mother – who was a respiratory therapist and knows all of this already – was recently rushed to the ER because of severe body aches, nausea, and dizziness. She, and the other family members around her, believed that she had pneumonia, or something worse. After a weeklong ordeal, it turns out she was merely dehydrated from a long road trip, and all she needed was water!
You deserve to feel good. Don’t rush to judgement and discount the power of breathing, drinking water, resting, and having a go-to self-care practice. Remember: These are foundational activities that are absolutely vital to your daily well-being and overall longevity.
So during this holiday season, don’t forget to nurture, honor, and perhaps discover your own self-care. It could include singing, reading, praying, playing with dogs, eating a healthy meal, hiking, or napping – the possibilities are endless. Whatever you do, simply tune in to yourself and insist on making time to regularly do the things that ground and center you and promote a sense of ease and enjoyment. You won’t regret it!