Spring looms on the horizon, but we're starting to get a little weary of cold air and dark evenings. Both the lack of sunshine and the inability to wear bright, summer favorites can bring you down. Take a few minutes to practice self care each day, and spring will arrive before you know it.
Start by figuring out what recharges you
Successful self care looks different for everyone. You might love nights in with a book and a glass of wine, while a friend relishes a raucous game night with your close-knit crew. Truthfully, your own self care might look different from time to time as life circumstances evolve. If you've been inundated with work travel or countless meetings, you might need more solitary time than you normally would. Take a few minutes at the beginning of each month — or even each week — to evaluate what you need to recharge.
Try a five minute brain break
Whether you work behind a desk, in front of a classroom, or in a small home office where you run a business and a home, concentrating on a task takes energy — both physically and mentally. Be sure to give your brain a break occasionally. Take five minutes to break your routine, and you'll be amazed at how refreshed you feel. Ideally, your break should feel different than your current working task. If you're staring at a computer screen, take a walk for five minutes. If you're spending the weekend painting your living room, sit down in a comfortable chair and concentrate on something outside a window to clear your head. If all else fails, close your eyes exactly where you are and focus on your breath for five minutes.
We know a lot of the country still sees piles of snow when they look outside. We know it's a pain to lace up boots that keep your feet warm without making them feel like they're sweltering. Get outside anyway. Bundling up might take more time than normal, but fresh air — and the change of scenery — can make a difference in your mood. Especially if you've been cooped inside for workouts, taking a walk around the block will remind you winter isn't always about dark nights and blustery mornings.
Leave the house — alone
Women spend a lot of time in the company of others. Kids, friends, and spouses all have different needs, and you attend to a lot of those. Errands often involve other people, and we know you're always running to meet someone else for a class at the gym or a dinner with friends we only see once a month. All of that togetherness offers love and companionship, both of which bolster you in certain ways. However, taking the time to leave the house and do something solely for yourself can remind you to make yourself a priority. You might love a quick manicure or half hour massage, or you might prefer to grab a book at the library and read it with a (warm) cup of coffee at your favorite cafe. No matter what works for you, take some time alone.
This one feels so simple — and impossibly complicated. So many of us feel attached to our phones or other devices. We need to be connected in the case of an emergency, but it's so easy to glance at text notifications and end up scrolling through social media or email. Those mindless thumb scrolls can contribute to stress. Put your phone in Do Not Disturb mode, with select numbers excluded in case of a real emergency. If you think you'll be tempted, stash your phone in a drawer across the room. Even if all you're doing is sitting on the couch at the end of the day, you might be surprised at how much more relaxing that can be without that slim phone next to your side.
Stay in for the night
Saying no to social invitations can be tough. You don't want to offend a new friend or you feel like you need to attend a school fundraiser — even if it's the third one in as many months. Give yourself permission to say no. Put on your coziest pajamas, grab your beverage of choice, and let the sun set without worrying about whether you should be doing something more productive. Taking care of yourself should count as an unbreakable commitment.
Keep those pajamas in tip-top shape with STRETCH Wash, so you can always wear your favorite pair while practicing self care.
Don't forget to stretch
Winter can make you tense. Whether you're tired of seeing the sun set before dinner or your shoulders ache from keeping your cardigan wrapped around your body, your muscles could use a little TLC, too. Find an easy yoga app — we like 5 Minute Yoga — for quick stretching or simply stand up, reach for the sky, then bend to touch your toes. Getting the blood flowing can help you feel more relaxed, and that's the goal of any self care practices.