August is my birthday month, so I like to make time for me. Now, should I be doing this more than once a year? Of course! And, I do take time for myself, but this month especially, as I turn another year older, and tend to reflect more on what I've accomplished and treat myself.
We all work really hard, and especially now more than ever we are moving at a rapid rate between, work, kids, families, friends and everything else. We have one body and we need to take care of it. If you push too hard, it will cause more harm on your body and mind, so we need to just sit back sometimes, reflect and bring back that balance into our lives.
Here are a few simple things you can do today to feel a whole lot better:
1. Meditation - This is now a daily habit for me. Just 5, 10 or 20 minutes a day can make you feel more relaxed and focused. A 2015 study at Johns Hopkins looked at the relationship between mindfulness meditation and its ability to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and pain. Researcher Madhav Goyal and his team found that the effect size of meditation was moderate, at 0.3. If this sounds low, keep in mind that the effect size for antidepressants is also 0.3, which makes the effect of meditation sound pretty good. Meditation is, after all an active form of brain training. “A lot of people have this idea that meditation means sitting down and doing nothing,” says Goyal. “But that’s not true. Meditation is an active training of the mind to increase awareness." If your new to meditating, try some apps like Headspace and Calm to get you started.
2. Relaxing bath - Try a soothing bath; this recipe helps soothe a headache, sore muscles or achy joints, and can speed up the healing process when you are ill:
- 1 cup epsom bath salt
- 1 cup baking soda
- 10 - 15 drops pure lavender essential oil
3. Enjoy Nature - Get outside! Especially now while summer is still upon us. Talk a walk in the park, go for a bike ride, visit a local nature center. Maybe its as simple as going out in your backyard and just looking around at the trees, listening to the birds sing, and feeling your bare feet on the grass. Spending time in the great outdoors has been scientifically proven to reduce stress levels, help you find clarity, and rejuvenate your mind and body.
4. Exercise - you hear it all the time, but its true. You need to move! Researchers at Princeton University recently learned that exercise creates vibrant new brain cells and reduce anxiety. Go walk your dog, sign up for a Zumba class, maybe find a new workout on YouTube (there's tons!). Whatever works for you, as it should be something you enjoy.
5. Gratitude - this one is probably the most important. Remember to be grateful for all that you have, as not everyone is as fortunate. Staying positive can help make you feel better. Try writing down in a journal all the things you can give thanks for. It just might put a smile on your face!