Words by Phoebe White
I’ve noticed #SelfCareSunday* is becoming a rising theme on my social media feed. Striking a balance across the commitments we make with others, keeping up with the life admin, our work, our future plans and our health can be tricky. But we can cultivate balance in the weekly whirlwind by upping the self-care. Here are six key principles I weave in to this most special day.
*Whatever shape your work week takes, read ‘Sunday’ as your week’s day for downtime, whatever actual day that is. If you don’t have one of those, make one! I’ve found there is nothing quite like giving self-care a full cycle of the sun to help sustain my weekly efforts.
For the parents reading, if you feel like the notion of self-care is a long and distant memory, involve the whole family in developing a Self-care Day: teaching kids how to care for themselves has got to be one of the most precious gifts a parent can offer.
First things first, feel absolutely NO GUILT about resting. You can’t pour from an empty cup and as Ruth Bowers discusses, it’s not selfish to self-care. So, put rest actively on your list: stay in bed, leave the to-do list, free yourself from time pressures. Deepak Chopra states: ‘Life gives you plenty of time to do whatever you want to do if you stay in the present moment’.
Breathing deeply and then siting in stillness* at the start of your day will distinguish Self-care Day from the usual ‘get up and go’ vibe. Try this breathing technique before breakfast to set the tone.
*If you already have a morning meditation practice: as you were 😊
Breath of life from The Art of Living UK
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Breathing in, open your arms out to the sides with your palms facing up. Breathe out. Tilt your head and arms back, raising your head to look up as you breathe deeply in. As you breathe out, lower your head down to your chest and place your arms over yourself to give yourself a big hug. Breathe in and repeat the Breath of Life two to three more times.
Beauty is restful - put the outside world aside and make something beautiful, give your thinking-mind a break. The constant planning and doing the week demands can leave us pretty frazzled so start your day by getting creative. Don’t plan it or pick a task from your to do list, just let an idea come from your morning musings. Whether it’s a lovingly cooked family breakfast, weeding the flower pots or finally sorting out that shelf: find a low-key, quick-to-complete task that gives you a restful sense of instant gratification and start the day on a win.
The best kind of tasks are those that ground you in your home, the ones you can do in your pyjamas! You work hard for your home so make it a place of beauty which is worthy of your efforts and a comfort to you throughout the week. Poet, John O’Donohue says ‘The human soul is hungry for beauty; we seek it everywhere – in landscape, music, art, clothes, furniture, gardening, companionship, love, religion, and in ourselves… When we experience the beautiful, there is a sense of homecoming’.
2. Release and recharge
Release the accumulated energy stirred up by powering through the week’s to-do list - maybe you feel it in your body (stiff shoulders, tired feet…) or maybe emotionally (irritable, restless...), or both! Use Self-care Day to work this extra energy out of your system. Go outside - a walk (or run) in the park is golden any time of year. Nature rocks. Look at the trees and breath in the sky. If you can be barefoot in the weather, sink your toes into the ground. Watch this fascinating film ‘Down to Earth’ from Dr Mercola that proves we need to earth our human electrics in nature.
Connect to your source of energy – whether you’re charged by hanging out in groups or spending time in your own company, plug in! It’s likely you’ll need to mix it up over the course of a month to balance what else is in the calendar so remember to include self-care when planning commitments. If you’ve spent a week busy with social occasions or gym sessions, a quiet day to reconnect and catch up with yourself may be in order – find a peaceful spot to ponder for a while. If you’ve had a solitary week or one without seeing loved ones, touch in with your community, invite friends on that walk in the park, go to a gathering, public event or class.
3. Be inspired
In whatever way you weave it into your day, seek out and appreciate creativity - visit a gallery, watch a movie, read a book, marvel at the season. Bring the nature of your thoughts away from the practicalities of daily life and explore a wider perspective on our evolution as beings of this earth. As Pablo Picasso said, ‘the purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls’.
Eat well - especially if you know you struggle to eat well during the week, use Self-care Day to detox and replenish. Check out Balance Garden writer Ola’s blog about knowing how to help your body detox.
Acknowledge fulfilment - whether out or at home, with others or alone, early or late, make a nutritious lunch an important occasion. Allow no interruptions and put your digital devices away. Celebrate the fruits of your labour throughout the weeks and take a pause to give thanks for what’s on your plate, literally and metaphorically.
Sunday dread is real - face it head on. Make sure you give time in the day to potter through the practical preparations for the week ahead and gently reflect on what your perfect week would look like. As @LalahDelia says, ‘Self-care is how you take your power back’.
Here are some questions to help set a week’s worth of positive affirmations:
What am I looking forward to each day?
What strengths am I taking into the week?
What opportunities can I cultivate?
How am I going to navigate risks or fears?
What do I hope to learn?
Am I spending time with people who lift me up?
What will I contribute?
How will I know it’s a good week?
How am I going to spend my next self-care day?
If you’re feeling hopeless about your week or weeks, check out my last blog about visioning your life-pie and creating happiness through your daily actions.
As the sun’s cycle closes, be peaceful with yourself, in your skin. Resetting your mind and body in a ‘rest and digest’ state will help wind the body down for a good night’s sleep – essential for facing the reality of Monday morning! We’ve all got a Sunday night routine I’m sure, make sure it restores you before you get too tired, so you head to bed in state of calm.
Snuggles on the sofa and/or a long bath and some pampering works wonders. Yin yoga is also perfect – washing breath through each stretch keeps that thinking mind well in the rest zone! Check out Balance Garden writer Jasmine’s yin yoga sequence.
I’ll leave you with this thought from Ruth Bowers: ‘An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly’.
I’d love to hear your favourite self-care day tips. Use the comments field below to get in touch. Happy self-caring!
A long serving Londoner, Phoebe is a qualified practitioner in Neurolinguistic Programming, life coach and yoga teacher, and experienced singer songwriter. She’s been leading workshops in a range of personal development topics and supporting people to achieve their goals for over 15 years. She teaches and sings regularly in North London and all around the world. You can find her over on instagram, facebook
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