Summer Self-Care: 5 Steps to Keep Your Cool
Even though the summer will wind down soon enough, things may be heating up at home due to constant family togetherness and anxiety about the kids' transition back to school in the Fall.
That’s why now is the perfect time to think about how you’ll keep your cool throughout the month of August — by focusing on self-care.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care includes any deliberate action you take to care for your physical, mental, and/or emotional well-being. While there are a wide range of self-care activities to choose from, the five essentials below will help you get started.
1. Care for your body
The simplest, yet most often overlooked type of self-care, is caring for the body: eating healthy foods, moving/stretching, and getting sufficient sleep.
Making small improvements in any or all of those areas can significantly increase your quality of life and positively impact your mood, relationships, and longevity.
Getting adequate medical attention when you need it is another important form of physical self-care. Go to the doctor for regular checkups and when symptoms first arise. If you wait until they worsen, you risk developing more complicated problems. A healthy body leads to a healthier state of mind.
Breathing is a self-care strategy we take for granted because we do it so automatically. Yet, good abdominal breathing habits can enhance your psychological and physical health. Deep breathing counteracts stress by relaxing the body and quieting the mind.
Abdominal breathing, or breathing from the diaphragm, is the body’s natural way of breathing when asleep. It’s deeper and slower than the way you tend to breathe when you’re awake, which is referred to as chest breathing.
When you consciously breathe from your diaphragm, you can actually normalize your heart rate, reduce anxiety, process information with increased clarity, and access problem-solving skills in the brain. This kind of breathing is the easiest and fastest way to bring about calm –even during the most stressful situations.
As you go about your day, be aware of your breathing. The benefits of deep breathing increase with practice. The more consistently you do it, the better you'll get at feeling relaxed and calming yourself down.
3. Set Personal Boundaries.
People with healthy boundaries respectfully speak up about things that bother them rather than keep their feelings bottled up inside. They don’t tolerate being mistreated. They take responsibility for their part in a problem rather than blaming someone or something else. They say “no” to taking on too many commitments and to doing things which drain them. They also refrain from assuming responsibility for other people’s feelings or problems.
Learning and practicing boundary-setting techniques takes time and isn’t always easy. If family members or close friends violate your boundaries and you follow through with a consequence, just remember that they’re responsible for how they react — not you. Setting boundaries is a way to develop self-respect and self-worth. You may be surprised when you realize that others suddenly respect you more, too!
4. Develop a Support System.
A social support system is a network of people – friends, family members, and peers – who you can turn to for emotional and practical support. These people provide you with encouragement and companionship in good times and bad.
Since it’s typical to seek out support in times of stress, you want to be sure that you have people to turn to before you actually need them. Start now by reaching out to others and fostering those relationships. Show your appreciation for them, keep the lines of communication open, and offer them support as well.
5. Pursue Your Passions
What gets you excited? What drives you and gives you a sense of purpose? If you can’t think of anything, it’s time to discover something you can be passionate about.
Whether it’s your religion, your family, your job, sports, politics, or music – actively pursuing a passion can help you feel inspired, motivated, and joyful every day.
If you’re not sure where your passion lies, start by asking yourself some questions about your interests, beliefs, and talents. What fascinates you? What do you already love doing? What are you good at? What do you strongly believe in? Experiment with new ideas by taking classes, joining groups, or talking with other people who share similar interests and are likely to support you in your endeavors.
Pursuing a passion may require you to stretch outside of your comfort zone. While this can sometimes feel scary or uncomfortable, doing so allows you to learn, experience new things, and grow. You can lessen the feeling of being overwhelmed by taking baby steps toward discovering your passion, rather than trying to master a new hobby all at once.
Getting started on the road to self-care
Select an area above that you believe is currently lacking in your life. Focus on giving it attention this month. Next month, choose another area on which to focus. Soon, you'll master all five steps and can work at incorporating each of them into your regular routine.
As moms, we're no strangers to stress. When you prioritize self-care, you boost your ability to stay calm and relaxed when things get heated. And that’s…pretty cool! 😉
How are you taking care of yourself this summer? Leave a comment and let me know!
And if you need help keeping your cool, check out my private coaching services here.