For many of us, the notion of self-care sounds amazing in theory, but the reality of creating time for yourself is often an afterthought at the end of a long day.
Fortunately, self-care does not have to be as luxurious or arduous to plan as it may seem.
The cultural view of self-care may include activities such as: enjoying a trip to the spa, attending a hot yoga class, soaking in a candle-lit bath or going on that Airbnb vaca that’s been on your bucket list. While these are excellent ways to take a break from the external world and enliven mind, body and spirit; they are not always viable, and so we tend to just skip self-care altogether!
The truth of the matter is that self-care begins the moment you wake up in the morning.
Some of the most important yet underrated aspects of self-care involve the way you speak to yourself, bring awareness to your thoughts and emotions as well as the way you choose to perceive the world around you.
Many of our Sovereign Silver team members agree that no matter how committed they are to self-care, they rarely have the time to schedule in extra activities. However, they did share a few of the methods that have helped them to care for themselves when time is not on their side.
These three unconventional methods for self-care on a time crunch also provide you with the scientific research that supports their benefits for health, longevity and well-being.
#1) Practice that art of body scanning: a tangible form of meditation
Body scanning is a form of meditation that involves focusing your attention on the tangible aspects of the body, taking a mental “scan” of how the body is feeling.
This can be performed in 5 minutes anywhere, anytime.
Take a few moments to check-in with your body.
Notice where the body is holding on to tension. If possible, notice the parts of the body that you may not pay much attention to very often (such as the facial muscles). Are they tense? Relaxed?
Notice where stress has accumulated. Scan the entire body from the feet all the way up to the crown of the head.
If you want to go further, you can perform this same exercise noticing how your breath flows throughout the body as well as checking in with your emotional and cognitive states.
The purpose of this is not necessarily to change anything, but to train your mind to shift your attention to the present moment.
I’ve discovered that this practice helps to bring awareness to how I’m feeling on a daily basis, grounded in the present and less focused on what happened yesterday or what will happen tomorrow. ~Sara, Marketing
This practice is not as time consuming as trying to carve 30 minutes away for meditation. The end result, however, is somewhat similar.
The mind and body become more relaxed due to the nature of focusing on something tangible and present.
The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California at Berkeley provides an excellent resource on how to do this as well as a short body scan podcast here.
In 2008, Carmody and Baer published a study¹ in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine showing that participants who attended eight weekly sessions of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reductions (MBSR) (including body scanning) showed significantly improved states of well-being, increases in emotional awareness and decreases in stress.
#2) Leverage the power of human connection
Taking just a few moments to call or schedule a lunch or coffee date with someone who knows, understands and accepts you exactly as you are is an amazing way to foster happiness, laughter and joy. Real connection celebrates life’s ups and offers a shoulder to lean on for the downs.
Human connection is arguably one of our most innate human needs.
While social media has provided an amazing platform to touch base with friends and family across the world, it simply cannot replace the value of meeting up with a friend for a cup of tea or coffee.
Sherry Turkle, a cultural analyst, talks about how we’ve become “alone together” in her TED talk about redefining technology.
Turkle explains that:
Social media has increased conversation but has decreased connection; contributing to isolation.
While technology has provided us with a platform to research, dissect information and learn new skills that were never possible in years prior,
… it simply cannot replace the incredible value of direct in-person human experiences.
These experiences do not have to take much time out of your day and are perhaps one of the most affordable and enjoyable ways to fill your cup!
A study² published by the American Association of the Advancement for Science found a strong correlation between overall well-being social ties. This study suggests that human connection may improve both health and longevity.
#3) Practice mantras daily
Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love. ~Brene Brown
It is admirable to set high aspirations, dream big and work hard. However, Western society has a tendency to overemphasize achievement contributing to a wide range of stressors. The American Psychological Association recently released a publication³ that examines the increase in perfectionism and perfectionist behavior of those born between the years of 1989 and 2016.
When self-imposed expectations and perfectionism begin to impact the way we speak to ourselves, it can be easy to lose sight of the immense possibilities for growth that lie just outside of our comfort zones.
Recognizing the tone of our inner-dialogue can help us connect with the part of ourselves unbridled by time.
One of the struggles many face when it comes to mantras is that they might not feel real at first. For example, if someone struggles with self-esteem, the mantra, “I am confident, worthy and wise.” might feel inauthentic.
There is another promising approach that doesn’t even involve self-talk, but is more focused on actionable activities such as writing about things that you value most (such as your family or career.) A fair amount of research⁴ indicates that writing down the things that bring you happiness (even if you aren’t feeling very happy) can bolster feelings of confidence.
Through practice, mantras and their benefits can be performed and experienced anywhere, anytime.
Consider the method that works best for you, whether it’s creating a compassionate inner-dialogue or writing out a few of the things that cultivate joy.
For those who prefer to recite mantras in Sanskrit form, there are schools of belief that support positive benefits even when the Sanskrit language is not understood and faith is not present.
This is also supported by Dr. Masaru Emoto’s research⁵ on sound itself.
The Science: The topic of the brain’s bias towards negativity has been well-studied.⁶ Research has shown that there is an electrical surge of activity⁷ that occurs in the brain when we see or perceive something as negative vs something that is positive. However, Chopra and Kamal’s 2012 study⁸ demonstrated that even the youngest students experienced higher levels of performance by consciously feeding their minds empowered self-talk. Additionally, self-affirmations have been shown to help create resilience to stress.
So there you have it! Self-care does not have to be costly or time consuming. We hope that these three methods for caring for yourself present new perspectives for you! While some of these methods may require more practice than others (such as self-affirmations), over time, we can begin to retrain our minds and reap the long-term rewards of claiming responsibility for our own well-being.
Now, we turn the mic to you!
What are a few ways that YOU practice self-care when you’re short on time? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
- Carmody, J. & Baer, R. A. (2008). Relationships between mindfulness practice and levels of mindfulness, medical and psychological symptoms, and well-being in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 31(1), 23-33
- House, Landis & Umberson (1988), Social Relationships and Health. Science, Vol. 241, Issue 4865, pp. 540-545
- Curran & Hill (2017) Perfectionism Is Increasing Over Time: A Meta-Analysis of Birth Cohort Differences From 1989 to 2016. American Psychological Association, Vol. 145, No. 4, 410 – 429
- Cohen & Sherman (2014) The Psychology of Change: Self-Affirmation and Social Psychological Intervention. Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 65:333-371
- Radin, Lund, Emoto & Kizu (2008) Effects of Distant Intention on Water Crystal Formation: A Triple-Blind Replication. Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 00, No. 0, pp. 000–000
- Wells, Hobfoll & Lavin (1999) When it Rains, it Pours: The Greater Impact of Resource Loss Compared to Gain on Psychological Distress. Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Volume: 25 issue: 9, page(s): 1172-1182
- Ito, Larsen, Smith & Caciopp (1998) Negative Information Weighs More Heavily on the Brain: The Negativity Bias in Evaluative Categorizations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 75, No. 4, 887-900
- Chopra & Kamal (2012) Impact of positive self-talk. University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Education