Have you felt thoroughly stressed lately? Or has stress sneaked up on you and laid residence, making you think like feeling like this is the norm. Either way, it’s time to take a little respite from all the must-dos.
Throughout the week we are bombarded with demands from everyone and everything around us – our bosses, co-workers, classmates, kids, partners, along with the never ending deadlines looming a step ahead. Setting aside a few hours each Sunday just for ourselves is a wonderful way of collecting ourselves, taking a cosmic breath of relief, and thus refocusing our energy and mind for the week ahead.
Today, I take time to love and care for myself.
A time of looking back, looking forward and enjoying the moment.
Carve an hour or two just for you every Sunday. During self-care Sundays, it is a good habit to look at the past week and see what you’ve accomplished. Give yourself a pat in the back for the things you’ve done. And don’t be harsh on yourself for the things that you haven’t. Take note of what you need to do for the next week.
If you must, you can promise yourself that you can get back to being stressed about everything the very next day. But not today.
This is a crucial part of your mini-retreat. If you keep thinking of what you should have done already and all the deadlines you haven’t yet met, you won’t totally enjoy your self-care Sunday. It’s like shaking the cobwebs in your mind that prevent you from seeing and enjoying the present. The purpose for these Sunday (or any day of the week that you chose for yourself) habits is to create a feeling of relaxation, cultivating a healthy body and a happy heart.
A pampering for your body, mind, and soul.
Here are some self-loving ideas to refocus your mind and rejuvenate your body.
For the body:
Yoga – Yoga exercises can be as soothing as a hug and as relaxing as a massage. Do several of your favourite poses with deep, cleansing breathes. Let go and release any unwanted tensions.
If you are a beginner, choose a different time of the week to learn the simplest poses so that you’re ready when Sunday arrives. You can also take a class at your local fitness studio, learn from a friend or even from YouTube.
Tai Chi – A form of moving meditation, Tai Chi brings about a calmness of emotion and peace of mind, at the same time exercising the body. Tai Chi emphasizes the development of inner focus and harmony of body, mind, and emotions. It is both an inner and outer martial art that brings us into balance, creating harmony with ourselves and our environment. The best thing is, you don’t have to be super athletic or super flexible to reap the benefits of Tai Chi.
Jogging/walking especially outdoors
Walking and jogging can help build strong bones because it is a weight-bearing activity. It can also strengthen muscles and improve cardiovascular health. It is especially a happy activity when done with Mother Nature.
Body scrub – One of self-care Sundays’ core ideas is to release the past (week) and to look forward to the new week ahead while pampering ourselves in the now. There is something poetic about weekly (or bi-weekly) body scrubbing – sloughing off dry, dead skin cells so that the new cells can be uncovered while improving body circulation and enjoying the scents and textures. The benefits of body scrubbing go beyond just exfoliating, it includes relaxation, detoxification, as well as supporting lymph nodes drainage. It also helps other skin care products to be readily absorbed into the skin.
Baths – There are a few maladies that a nice, warm bath can’t fix. Small injuries, over-stretched muscles, knotted shoulders and even joint pain can be eased with a hot bath. Add in your favourite salts and essential oils for a heavenly soak. After the bath, luxuriate further with a rich body oil.
Sunbathing – Lovely colour and vitamin D? What’s not to love? Nothing beats the sun in giving us a healthy glow – inside and out. If the weather permits or if you’re lucky enough to live where the sun shines year round, sunbathing every now and then can maintain your radiant skin tone.
No sun? Coffee scrubs do give a light-bronzing effect, especially if you leave them on for longer than 10 minutes. After the body scrub, you can, of course, top it with a tanning spray. Remember to moisturize your skin with body lotion or body oil after exposure to the sun.
Face masks – The right face mask can do wonders for your facial skin.
Sheet masks are more hydrating and best for normal to dry or mature skin. Sheet masks seal the product’s emollient ingredients in and prevent them from evaporating rapidly.
Depending on the formulation, cream or clay masks are best for detoxifying and purifying. Suitable for normal to oily skin or those with acne-prone skin.
Whether sheet or cream mask, you can see the beautiful results right after you rinse your face – finer-looking pores, clearer skin that is so soft to the touch.
Hair treatment – A once-a-week at home hot oil or hair treatment will keep your hair beautiful throughout the week. You can apply hot oil prior to body scrubs, that way your hair treatment will be working while you scrub your body.
Dancing – Turn on your favourite dance music and dance around your room! Seriously, it’s so fun, albeit sounding a little silly. While other people take dancing lessons or go to night clubs, (and those are fab too!) there’s something to be gained by shimmying and rocking by yourself to your fave tunes – cardio workout and enjoyment, to name a couple.
You can go prancing around town some other time if you want. Self-care Sunday remember? You don’t have to worry about knowing the latest dance moves and whether or not you have the right make-up and outfit. This is just for you – smile and dance away. With a grin on your face, watch how easily dancing chases the blues away.
For the mind:
Write a gratitude journal
It’s the little changes that we do day by day that will bring us to our biggest triumphs. The practice of writing a gratitude journal is one of those little changes that lead to incredible results time and time again – inner peace, better relationships, health, and prosperity.
How does a gratitude journal make this happen?
Ever been in a situation where when you focus on something, suddenly there’s a lot more of them in your world? Let’s say, you want to buy a white car. Now, everywhere you go you see numerous white cars. You swear you’ve never seen so many white cars before. It’s the same concept. By focusing on the things you are grateful for, that very act brings more for you to be grateful for.
And then something else happens. You will start seeing something to be thankful for in each person, object and situation that comes your way, even when it is at first not apparent. And the stuff that you really love and enjoy, the ones you truly appreciate? You’ll notice more and more of them appearing in your life. Imagine living a life where you are surrounded by all the things you appreciate.
Just listing and thinking of everything you are grateful for is a huge stress-relieving activity. Try it and see how easily your mood will change for the better.
What to write: The usual way is to think of three things to be thankful. Below are different twists to the gratitude list.
This week I am thankful for: ________________________________________________
I really felt joy this week for: ________________________________________________
I am so fortunate for this to happen: ________________________________________________
I really appreciate this person, why: ________________________________________________
I really appreciate myself because: ________________________________________________
Meditate –There are so many books and talks about meditation. There are also so many misconceptions about meditation like; it’s so boring, it takes a long time to master, I can never do it, etc. Learn about meditation first before arriving to conclusions. It is beyond the scope of this blog post to thoroughly discuss the hows, the whys and the whats of meditation. I can say though that when done properly, meditation reduces stress and anxiety and quiets a busy, worried mind. It’s the mental and emotional equivalent of pushing the reset button on your computer. And contrary to some people’s beliefs, meditation will do the opposite of getting you lost in a trance. It actually improves concentration, focus and heightens awareness. A stress-free mind and body leads not only to increased happiness but also slows down aging.
Plan for the week ahead. An easy to learn planning and organizing tool is the Japanese Kanban system. Instead of a long, vague to-do list, you divide your task into three groups. Label them with something like: To-do, Doing, Done. This a very visual system, you can easily see your progress at a glance. You can use sticky notes on a board or organize your list using three columns in a paper. Kanban system is so effective, that it has been translated into digital form. Trello and others come to mind.
However, a simple, flexible to-do list on your smartphone will suffice. No matter what system you use, having an action plan for the coming week sure beats going through it aimlessly.
These are just a few suggestions for self-care/self-love Sundays. I’m sure there are other activities you can think of at the top of your head to add to this list. Singing? Catching up on your favourite TV show with a bucket of popcorn? How about doing nothing specific for an hour or two but still just for you? There’s only one criterion for these days: take the time to enjoy doing something beneficial for you.
Even on busy weekends, try to squeeze in a little intentional self-caring and self-loving time for yourself.
You don’t have to wait for Sunday to arrive to treat yourself. You can do it on any day of the week that is most convenient for you. And if you can grab 15 to 30 minutes a day, every day – you should. Why not? You do deserve it. Diane Von Furstenberg, famous fashion designer said, “When a woman becomes her own best friend, life is easier.” Perhaps not only easier for you but for others around you as well.
It’s not just the act of doing these activities, it’s the attitude that goes with it. When you feel happy and deserving, really relishing every component of your self-care retreat. That’s when you feel like a queen of your domain. A queen, who is renewed inside and out, can better tackle anything that comes along tomorrow.