This post was written by Alex Phillips, Co Founder of Saint Belford.
Join us on Instagram @saintbelford for practical self-care tips, empowering reminders and strategies for building habits that stick. Here's a roundup of our self-care tips from the last two weeks:
Create a wind down ritual
Create a wind down ritual to mark the end of your work day and help you transition into “home time.”
For most of us, the act of leaving the workplace marks the end of the workday and changing locations helps signal to our brain that it’s time to close down our “work tabs” and begin to relax.
However, many of us are currently working and living from the same space. This means our work time can very easily bleed into our personal time. Having a simple ritual in place, like going for a walk, doing a workout or even changing out of the clothes you were working in can help you make that daily transition and signal to your brain that it’s officially “home time.”
Mindfully reflect on your morning routine
Without judgment, reflect on your morning routine. What are the first few things you do in the morning?
Ask yourself: how do these habits make me feel? How do these habits contribute to the rest of my day? Are they serving me or are they holding me back? Do they reflect my values and the person I want to be or do I need to make a few changes?
Asking yourself these questions is not about generating guilt or beating yourself up, it’s about building awareness around your morning habits so that you can consciously decide whether these are habits you want to keep or replace.
We often wait for the consequences of the habits that don’t serve us to stack up before we make a change, but the fact is, you can initiate change right now. It all begins with an honest reflection and assessing the trajectory of your habits. Let your reflection be the catalyst for change.
Get in the habit of asking yourself what you need today
Get in the habit of asking yourself: what do I need today? What do I need right now? And make a conscious effort to listen to your body and address these needs instead of ignoring the signals and blazing through your to-do list.
It can be tempting to shelve those needs for a more “convenient” time but shelving those unmet needs only creates more problems. Instead of shelving your needs, find practical ways to address them as and when they surface.
For example, I understand we don’t all have the luxury of taking the day off whenever we feel stressed, but perhaps closing your eyes and meditating for 10 minutes is a practical way of addressing that feeling of stress and overwhelm in the middle of the day. Commit to finding your version of practical self-care.
Complete your most important task before going on social media
Complete your most important task before you go on social media. As soon as we wake up, we are inundated with a constant stream of thoughts and going on social media just adds to that clutter that already exists. It’s like opening up more tabs and giving yourself more things to think about.
If you’re struggling to focus or concentrate in the morning, make a conscious effort to change your social media habits. Reposition it as a reward for completing your most important tasks.
I’ve been doing this for a couple of weeks and I’ve already noticed a huge difference in my ability to focus and concentrate so I highly recommend giving this a go.
Record a pep talk for your future self
When you’re feeling good, record a pep talk on your phone addressing all the fears and doubts that commonly surface for you on a bad day. The purpose of this pep talk is to address all the unhelpful self-talk that plays on repeat and strips away your confidence.
I recorded mine a year ago and it still soothes me when I’m in one of those seemingly inconsolable states.
What this pep talk ultimately provides is perspective. It can remind you of the things you already know deep down but tend to forget when the voices in your head are yelling a different narrative.
Whenever I’m having a “bad day” I instantly fear slipping into a really dark place and this pep talk neutralises those thoughts and reminds me that I’ve survived every other bad day.
Identify healthy coping strategies for managing bad days
Identify healthy coping strategies by reflecting on what has worked well for you in the past. Writing these self-soothing strategies in your diary or journal (where it’s easily accessible) can help you get through your tough days with a little more ease.
If you’re thinking “it’s probably a good idea in theory but I probably won’t look at it again” you might surprise yourself. Often, the challenge is not knowing what to do or how to care for ourselves when we’re feeling extra vulnerable.
Having a simple and practical list of strategies (things you can do anywhere, anytime) can be really empowering and restore your confidence in getting through the day.
Another way to help you use your list is to tell your partner, family member or a close friend so they can help you and remind you to do the things that you have already identified as “healthy self-soothing strategies.”
Declutter your newsfeed
We are spending so much more time online so we need to make sure our digital environment is one that supports us rather than one that triggers stress, panic, anxiety and fear.
Curate your newsfeed in a way that serves you and consciously limit content that promotes negativity.
What is on your newsfeed is feeding your mind. It can set the tone for your day and influence your choices and behaviours.
Remember, energy is contagious so be extra mindful of what you are consuming and the impact that is having on your wellbeing.
Play the movie to the end
If you experience resistance before working out or during your workout, I hope this tip taken from Lena Moxon (@thetrainingroomgeelong) helps you as much as it has helped me.
Bring to mind how you’re going to feel—the state you’re going to be in after you complete your workout and how that’s going to impact the rest of your day.
Bring to mind the sense of accomplishment, pride for prioritising your wellbeing and the energy you’ve manufactured yourself through movement.
Let that vision be the fire (motivation) that helps you move through your workout with a little more ease. Let it help you break through that wall of resistance.
Break up your work day with mini breaks
Break up your workday with mini breaks away from your desk and screen. If you’re guilty of dismissing this sage advice, here’s what you need to know—prolonged attention to a single task actually hinders performance. In other words, resisting downtime could be impacting your productivity, creativity and motivation.
The next time you feel stuck or your motivation levels have plummeted, treat it as a sign to give your brain a break. You might like to stretch, get some fresh air, go for a walk, exercise, eat lunch, enjoy a cup of coffee, practise some deep controlled breathing or complete a quick chore or two, like unloading the dishwasher or putting the washing on the line.
Just remember, the goal is to rest the “thinking part” of your brain so be mindful of how you spend your downtime.