“Self-care is a divine responsibility.” – Danielle Laporte
As women, we often focus the majority of our energy on the wellbeing of those we care deeply about. This certainly applies to women in dentistry, as you work daily to meet your patients needs. There are so many roles that we consistently work to fulfill – employee, mother, daughter, wife, girlfriend, boss, household manager, or compassionate friend – just to name a few. Sometimes we get so busy with the world around us that we don’t take the time to look inward and compassionately check on ourselves. Yet without personal health, mental sanity, and sacred time to nourish your spirit, it is impossible to enjoy a functional, fulfilling life!
The idea of focusing on your own needs may feel uncomfortable at first, but it’s necessary. How each day unfolds begins and ends with you. When you become in touch with how you desire to feel, when you experience greater clarity of mind, and your energy level is thriving, it will inevitably have a positive affect on your life, as well those around you.
To begin your path to greater joy each day, here are 10 self-care tips to get you started. You may choose to simply start with 2 or 3 at first. As you gradually build consistency with these self-care practices you will be amazed by the results!
- Practice being present – It’s easy to become consumed with a day full of tasks and to always be focused on “what’s next.” Try starting your day with 5 minutes of meditation or deep breathing. If your mornings are too busy, take a few minutes to breathe mindfully during a break or right before bed. Become aware of how you feel and mentally “check in” with yourself. Feel your feet grounded to the floor. The simplicity of building awareness can help you manage any stress that arises. When you’re taking action from a place of feeling grounded, you often make better choices and react to situations with greater calm and clarity.
- Be active – Moving your body at least 15 – 20 minutes a day is hugely beneficial to your overall wellbeing. Whether it’s stretching in the morning, taking a short walk, or attending a yoga class, getting your blood pumping and releasing stagnant energy will inevitably lift your spirits AND your energy level. If you find this a challenge, find a girlfriend to join you and hold one another accountable!
- Honor your feelings – This one is big. Every day, we move through a variety of emotions and struggles. Whether you’re coping with an argument you had, dealing with a concern or worry, feeling a bit down, or if you’ve had a major life loss or transition, allow yourself to move through those feelings. Even if it’s at the very end of your day, make time to process any emotions you might be holding onto. All of your feelings are valid and deserve attention. By letting yourself process them, whether it’s talking to someone you trust, having a good cry, or writing your thoughts in a journal, you will gradually become stronger (and feel lighter) by giving your feelings healthy expression. Holding difficult emotions for too long can cause emotional and mental stress, or even physical illness. Honor your feelings by treating them with compassion.
- Spend time outside – A few minutes of nature and fresh air can do wonders. As women in dentistry, you likely spend much of your time inside an office each day. Even if the only time you have to be outdoors is on your back porch in the morning with coffee in hand, or sitting outside for lunch, just take a few moments to be aware of your surroundings. Notice the trees, the birds, whatever nature is present. This can help you feel grounded throughout the day.
- Express your gratitude – Expressing gratitude creates joy! What you put out, you will receive. Practice expressing your gratitude by showing appreciation to a loved one, friend, or colleague. If you are grateful for the sun in the sky, say out loud to yourself “I’m so glad it’s sunny today.” Before eating a meal, give thanks for the food that’s about to nourish your body. Simple acts of gratitude can help shift your attitude and mood, reminding you of all that is good.
- Get to bed early – Sometimes a little bit of extra sleep is all you need to feel more refreshed and energized. Lack of sleep not only impacts you physically, but also emotionally. It can be hard to maintain a positive outlook when feeling tired. If you struggle with fatigue, try laying down at least 30 min to an hour earlier than you might usually. Instead of watching TV or viewing an electronic device while winding down, read a book instead. This will allow your body to truly unplug from the day and get you into a more restful, peaceful state.
- Affirmations – These can be very powerful for your mindset, helping you stay focused on positive intentions and feelings. For instance, statements such as “The universe is on my side” or “I am loved” have the power to remind you of your truth and take you out of any negative thought patterns that you may be struggling with. You can find a wealth of affirmations online, or even create your own. Keep them somewhere you can see them every day. Try setting one as a reminder on your phone or putting a sticky note affirmation on your dashboard!
- Create connection – Soulful, human connection is so important for your spirit to thrive. If it’s been a while since you’ve sat down with a dear friend or loved one and had a fun, meaningful conversation, set aside time to talk or do an activity together. This interaction can recharge you, remind you of who you are, and provide the opportunity for laughter and good endorphins to flow.
- A nurturing space – Wherever you have the opportunity to create a nurturing environment, enhance the space you frequently inhabit with items or objects that make you feel good. Some ideas might include a framed picture of your favorite quote, displaying your favorite plant or flower, diffusing essential oils, playing uplifting or soothing music, or filling your space with your favorite color. Whether it’s one small area of your home or office, or an entire room, create a feeling of sanctuary by including things that lift your spirit.
- One little thing that brings you JOY each day – Live it up! Even in small ways. Do one little thing each day that lights you up! Whether it’s some dark chocolate after dinner, your morning latte, wearing your favorite bracelet, singing super loud in the car, watching your favorite show, or hugging your loved one for 5 minutes straight. These little acts of joy add up to a healthier, happier you. They offer some release and comfort amidst the chaos of daily life. Be present in those moments where you feel pure joy, and soak in their sweetness. You deserve some regular indulgence!
Ultimately, these self-care tips can help you achieve greater happiness and wholeness each day. The beauty is that it takes a small amount of effort to begin implementing these tools. Even if you only manage to try one tip for an entire week, you are taking a small step towards greater wellness.
Remember to be compassionate and gentle with yourself! As with any practice, developing a natural self-care routine takes time. However, as long as you stay mindful about your needs and remember to simply focus on how you want to feel each day, you will remember that a little bit of self-care goes a very long way.