A lot of people are talking about “wellness” nowadays. But what exactly does that mean? There are eight dimensions of wellness: emotional, financial, social, spiritual, occupational, physical, intellectual, and environmental.
Taking time for yourself can increase your health: emotional, social, and spiritual. But for those of us balancing family life with careers, taking time for ourselves can feel selfish. This is a dangerous mindset, because it is much easier to be there for your family and good at your job when you are in a strong state, mentally and physically—and this requires time spent on self-care, sin guilt. Here are a couple of ways you can squeeze some self-care into your day:
- Set your alarm for half an hour earlier than normal. You can use those extra minutes to catch up on news or emails, pack yourself a healthy lunch, or take your time over your cup of tea or coffee. You may find your whole day is better if your morning is less rushed.
- Practice being present, absorbing both place and time. How often have you walked past a blooming bush, or eaten your lunch, or talked to a family member with half of your mind elsewhere? Take a moment and set aside all the other thoughts and worries that seem to be clamoring for your attention: Appreciate what’s in front of you right now.
- It’s such an automatic thing we don’t pay attention to it, and we end up with shallow chest breathing that leaves us exhausted. Exhale completely—pull your belly button towards your spine and really release all your breath—then inhale slowly to a count of eight. Let your belly expand while you fill your lungs full of fresh clean air, then go back to the rest of your day with renewed energy.
- Make a weekly date with yourself. You’ve heard of married couples doing it, but it can also be centering to develop your relationship with yourself. Treat yourself to a movie, a good book, a long bubble bath, or a massage—whatever it is you love to do when you have the time.
- Take a short meditation break. Sit somewhere comfortable, close your eyes, and let your mind relax. Thoughts might enter your mind, but don’t engage them. Be an observer and watch those thoughts float in and out of your consciousness. Set a timer for five minutes to start, then gradually increase up to fifteen or twenty minutes a day.
- Fight the routine; do something new. Learn to knit. Create a terrarium. Take up yoga. Go skydiving. Start raising exotic fish. Teach a community class. Join a dinner club. Play an instrument. Challenge yourself! Learning helps your brain learn new pathways, keeping you mentally stimulated throughout life.
Every so often, maybe a couple of times a year, quickly review all eight aspects of wellness listed above. Are you doing great on some, but not others? Life always requires adjustments, so go easy on yourself if things get out of balance now and again. Make a commitment to giving yourself time alone, and to engaging in actions to soothe your soul.