In my previous post, I talked about how I view of the concept of self-care as all-encompassing, not only what brings you a sense of relaxation and positive energy. Last time I wrote about discovering things that make you feel strong, but today, I am going to focus more on what the general population thinks of when you say the phrase self-care; finding your Zen!
As we all know, there are many ways to calm your mind and find a sense of peace. I want to point out that taking care of your mental state is important all the time, contrary to popular belief. I personally believe that self-care is something that should be done regularly, not necessarily every once in a while, or only when you feel like you are in desperate need.
Don’t wait until your mind is on the brink of spontaneous combustion – put in the time to ensure your health and well-being are in a good place so you never have to reach that breaking point.
So, what helps me feel centered and calm?
- Breathing exercises. I’ve touched on this before, but this is something that has really helped me to slow my racing thoughts. You can take it a step farther and try meditation (which is amazing!) but if that’s too much and you’re struggling to release tension and find some peace, start with a simple breathing exercise. Focus only on inhaling and exhaling. You can count to yourself as you breathe in and out, if you want something to hone in on. Focus on just your breath, and all your worrisome thoughts will slowly fade away.
- Getting outside in nature. There is something so quiet and peaceful about being in nature. Not only does the fresh air do me good, it also helps me step away from my busy life and worries of the world, and observe the beauty around me.
- Bubble baths. I know baths aren’t for everyone, and that is 100% okay, but taking a bubble bath may be one of my favorite things in the world. You can add so many different things to make it a zen experience. I personally enjoy going all out – lavender bubble bath mix, Epsom salts to soak my muscles, candles, soft music, maybe even a glass of wine by the side of the tub if I’m feeling classy (but if you drink, don’t forget to hydrate with water too, because soaking in hot water can dry you out!).
- Journaling, making a gratitude list, or writing stream-of-consciousness. The actual process of writing things down can be very therapeutic. All three of these options generally help me get back to a better place mentally and emotionally. Journaling is a great way to process what I’m feeling, making a list of what I’m grateful for (both big and small) puts things into perspective and therefore helps lower my stress level, and stream-of-consciousness writing is a helpful release for when I can’t seem to get any thoughts organized and need to just scribble out what’s in my head. (For anyone who has never tried stream-of-consciousness, it’s when you literally just write down whatever comes to your mind, and don’t stop. It could be random words and phrases, not necessarily complete sentences, unrelated topics, gibberish, whatever comes to your brain you write down and just let it flow.)
- Distracting myself with Netflix. This may not sound like the best advice for everyone, but if I’m stressed, I enjoy switching off my mind for a while and losing myself in a funny or light-hearted show. Now, I am not encouraging escaping or avoiding real life forever, because if there are things you need to face, then you should try your best to do what needs to be done. However, if you’re like me, sometimes my mind starts churning and worrying endlessly and I get a little tired of thinking about my own life. So, I turn to someone else’s life (though fictional!), and it helps to relax me.
- Scented candles. The soft light of a candle’s wick burning has a naturally relaxing effect on our mind. Add a soothing scent like lavender to the mix, and your tension will slowly release and mood will lift. I love the ambiance of having a candle(s) lit in my room, when I take a bath, or even at my desk where I’m working for an added calming effect.
Again, there are so many different things you can try to relax your body and mind. These are a few of the things that work for me, but there are a ton of other resources out there that can give you ideas for calming down and finding your center. Try experimenting with different things and see what brings you the most relaxation.
Self-care and finding what brings you to a calm headspace is important for mental health, and should not be taken for granted. Give yourself a break and take a bath, listen to some music, write in a journal, go for a walk, or whatever makes you feel most comfortable.
What are some things that make you feel zen?