When you’re getting older, it gets harder and harder to find time for yourself. You may be taking care of your kids…and your parents. You might be handling the bills, managing a household, working a full-time job AND going to school. You’re adulting so much its hard to catch a breath, much less watch an entire episode of anything in your Netflix queue.
But conversely, as you age, finding time for self-care is more and more important. In fact, its necessary to well-being.
You may already know someone your age who’s succumbed to a stress-related illness or it might be you dealing with potentially life-threatening illness. You likely already know the importance of eating right and exercising but fitness is more than physical, it’s mental as well.
Here are 7 ways to practice self-care that you can find the time to do, no matter how busy you may be.
Meditation has long been viewed as a beneficial tool for self-care. It helps to clear and settle the mind and in some cases, can reduce or replace the need for painkillers. For a lot of folks, though, meditation is something that makes them thinks of gurus in loincloth sitting in full lotus position. You don’t have to do that to meditate. The important thing is to take time, even if it’s five minutes of the day to breathe and be still. Guided meditation, where someone helps you along is a good choice for those who find it difficult to do by themselves.
Insight Timer is a guided meditation app for Apple and Android phones, Breathe is a good one for the Apple watch. The other easy, free way to practice guided meditation is via YouTube. There are thousands of morning and bedtime guided meditations of all different times and you can find the voice, timing or meditation type that you prefer.
People challenged by insomnia have found them helpful, and you can either find ones without the annoying YouTube ads or invest in YouTube premium (there’s a month-long free trial to see if it’s worth the $11.99. If you take specific time out for solo prayer, that’s another way to calm and still your mind. And yes, there are apps like Echo Prayer and Prayer Mate and YouTube accounts that can help there, too.
MEET AND GREET
As much as you love your friends, family and church, they are all tied up in a host of obligations and at times they can be draining. And in some cases, your station or stature in life won’t let you truly be free to enjoy yourself. (We see some of you on the Fantastic Voyage and what happens when nobody knows who you are at home!)
That’s where friends and social groups not tied to service of any kind come in.
When you can just hang out and relax without worrying about being judged, is its own kind of self-care. If you have good friends that make you feel that way, you’re golden. If you don’t, make some new ones via Meetup.com where you can find those who share your interests be it motherhood, skiing or animè.
Sometimes, your family just doesn’t get or share your fascination with Egyptology or Delta blues, so Meetups are a great place to connect with other like-minded people. The other place where you can connect with folks is Starbucks, if you live within walking or driving distance of one and most of us do. There are locations where people meet up around shared interests as well. Check the bulletin boards at the location nearest you to see what people may be getting together to do there.
Detoxing from social media has been proven to help people decrease their stress. But many of us spend more time on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter than we do interacting with the people in our lives IRL. Or we spend so much time documenting our children’s every move, burp, crawl, birthday and sporting event that we forget to actually share in those memories instead of recording them. Then there are the people who have so many notifications set on their phone that it pings like a slot machine.
And that’s the problem, social media fuels the rewards part of your brain so that all those things going off actually does become addictive. The solution: Turn them off. And if you can, turn your phone/iPad, Apple Watch, tablet, laptop off for at least some of the week so that you can have a moment where you don’t have to check, respond or answer to anyone. Even if you have to keep in touch with kids or work, you can limit your time on social media. There are apps that you can set to keep you from accessing websites for a certain amount of time.
Get outside. If you live near anything beautiful – a lake, a park, a beach, an art installation, a garden, head there and sit on a bench, take a walk or just daydream. Even if you live in the heart of the inner city, there’s usually somewhere you can get to – a park or a waterfront that is outside and nice. Or give yourself ten minutes on the way to work to sit or walk or 10 minutes on the way home. If you have a dog that you usually walk around the same 2 block radius, take him or her somewhere new and really pay attention to your surroundings. Even the American Heart Association recommends spending time enjoying nature.
DE-STRESS IN PLACE
If you can’t get far away, you can always take a staycation. Airbnb means that you don’t even have to book an (expensive) hotel room. You can book a night either in your city or just outside it and if you need to, have some quality time to yourself. Or, you can ask your significant other or parent to take the kids somewhere and you can just relax by yourself in your own bed, bath, or yard. Target has great, inexpensive but nice-smelling pampering oils, scents and lotions (check the Pacifica brand) and so does your local Marshalls or TJ Maxx. Load up and give yourself a home beauty treatment. Most importantly, relax.
GET ME BODIED
Tiffany Haddish loves Groupon so much, they hired her to do commercials for them. She has good reason. Groupon always has coupons on your local spa, massage and body work treatments. They usually also have specials on acupuncture, things like sensory deprivation water treatment and hydrotherapy, cryotherapy and other new body treatments. Groupon discounts are a great resource for trying things you might be interested in but are you want to invest in the full price of a spa. Once you find out what body treatment relaxes you most, you can schedule it for at least once a month. Body work can really help you de-stress, detox and relax.
Prince once sang about getting off – well, he sang about it all the time. Why, cause good sex feels finger-licking (and other parts) goood. It’s funny that the two things that can help relax you the most – sleep and sex – are usually the first things to go. The thing about sex is that while it’s great to have a partner, you don’t have to have one to get satisfaction. There are plenty of toys for women out there and if you’re a man, you’ve got a built-in one. (Wink, wink).
If you don’t have a significant other and can find a FWB that you’e on the same page with, sex is a great form of stress relief. If you do have a partner, try to add in another session a week. If the two of you haven’t been intimate in a while, and there are no other problems in your relationship, then prioritize sex, even if you have to schedule it.
But in the FWB setup, if either of you is looking for more, then sex may increase your stress instead of the other way around. But there’s always sleep. Sleep is easy and free and if you’re not getting enough of it, change your mattress, bedding and add some blackout curtains and a white noise machine so your room is conducive to the best rest possible.
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