As commitments overlap on my calendar, and emails crowd my inbox, physical stress quietly builds in my body. I don't realize the tightness in my jaw, involuntary squeezing of my stomach muscles, or that my shoulders are reaching for the ceiling until I take a moment and surrender to complete relaxation. Sound familiar?
If you haven't scheduled a me-day in quite some time, pampering yourself just became a priority. Here's what makes it good for your mind and body.
Investing in Self-Care Makes You Healthier
Slogging through lengthy to-do lists, running the kids to and fro, planning family gatherings, and putting in extra hours at work may be unavoidable. So today I'm kindly asking you to add one more thing to your list: You.
Focused, intentional relaxation can reduce the physical and mental effects of stress and improve your quality of life, according to the Mayo Clinic. Simple relaxation techniques can help you:
- Lower your blood pressure
- Improve your digestion
- Balance your blood sugar levels
- Reduce your body's stress hormone activity
- Ease tension in your muscles
- Manage chronic pain more effectively
- Boost your mood
- Improve your concentration
- Increase your physical and mental energy
- Sleep better
- Improve your confidence
All of that sounds pretty amazing, right?
If you think taking time for yourself feels selfish, you're not alone. I always had to talk myself into blocking out time on my calendar to relax in the bathtub or go to yoga class. But recently, I shifted my mindset. To be the best version of myself, I have to put my wellness first.
"Life unfolds in the present. But so often, we let the present slip away, allowing time to rush past unobserved and unseized, and squandering the precious seconds of our lives as we worry about the future and ruminate about what's past," says author Jay Dixit in a Psychology Today article.
Taking time to relax makes you more mindful and able to enjoy each day. This, in turn, boosts happiness. It's not easy, but it's critical if you want to show up fully with kindness (rather than feeling overwhelmed and agitated) for your family, friends, children, and significant other.
Finding Time to Unwind
So, you're on board with ramping up your self-care, but now you're wondering how to make it happen. The secret is planning. If I mark out a spot on my calendar for me-time, it's more likely to happen than if I just hope I'll have time to fit it in. Treat self-care like an appointment with your doctor or dentist. Give it a date and a time and don't put anything else in that time slot.
Once you have the time figured out, you'll likely need to shift some of your responsibilities. Can grandparents babysit the children once a week? Will a neighbor pick up your dry cleaning when they grab their own garments? Can you afford grocery delivery instead of spending time commuting to and from the store? Would meal planning on the weekend free up time on weeknights to unwind?
Making small modifications in your everyday routine can quickly open up random pockets of time for yourself. Just remember to return the favor. Those who help you probably need a little time to themselves, too.
Now, let's focus on you.
Planning At-Home Spa Day Moments
Pull out the thick robe. Unwrap the fancy soap. Open the book you're saving for vacation. Burn the nice candle. Sit on the deck you rarely get to enjoy. Wear the fuzzy slippers. Buy the new nail polish. Spritz the perfume. All the things saved for a special occasion are worthy of being enjoyed by you now.
Beyond booking a massage or pedicure at the local salon, what can you easily do in the comfort of your home for an hour or two? In the time it takes for the kids to go to the movies with neighbors, you can push the reset button on your physical and mental wellness with these relaxing activities:
- Indulge in a hobby. Whether you've always wanted to learn something new, or want to finish a project that was started long ago, escape into an activity you enjoy. Get messy with paints. Bake a five-layer cake. Practice piano.
- Enjoy a long bath. Add a few drops of essential oils or bubble bath to the water and soak. I love to have a giant mug of hot cocoa or glass of chilled wine nearby to sip on as I listen to a podcast, meditation, or audiobook. Allow yourself to get lost in the moment for a while.
- Give yourself spa treatments. Put on soothing music and massage a homemade scrub over your face and neck. Rub your feet with natural oils, then apply a fresh coat of colorful polish. Use a hydrating hair mask to add shine to your tresses.
- Take an unapologetic nap. Sometimes the best rest is one that allows us to slip away into our dreams. Don't hesitate to pull on your pajamas and hide under the covers for an hour. It might be the exact pause your mind and body need.
If you only have a few minutes in passing, do small, mindful things to spark joy in your day. Light a fragrant candle and play music while tackling housework. Wear a favorite piece of jewelry or the cute shoes at the back of your closet even if your agenda only includes grocery shopping and school pickup.
Pampering yourself melts away anxiety and tension, so you can be happier, healthier, and more relaxed in every situation.
How do you plan to take care of yourself in the week ahead? Will you treat yourself to an extra long bubble bath on Friday evening? Or, are you craving midweek takeout and a movie while a friend shuttles your kids to sports practice? Share your self-care plans with us on Twitter!
Image Source: Angela Tague
The views and opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Tom's of Maine.
Why It's Good
Pampering yourself boosts your happiness and physical health. When you're feeling your best, you can nurture, inspire, and care for others completely and positively. It's funny how intentionally putting yourself first for a few hours each week actually makes you better in all of your roles, from mother and partner, to friend and coworker. You deserve a spot on your schedule each day.