Really, seriously…how much time in a typical day is reserved for you?
And I mean really, for you.
Throughout most of grad school, my answer would’ve been a big fat zero – or pretty close to it, at least.
Somehow, I always thought that I was different from everyone else.
I didn’t need to rest, exercise, hydrate, talk about stress or emotions, or do anything else that other people had to deal with in order to be successful. I was just better than that. 😉
Depriving myself of self care turned me into a hot mess and it got kind of ugly.
(I’d say the low point was crying because my cooking teacher said he “expected more” from our macaroni and cheese project. It just was not my proudest moment.)
What I wish I knew then is that I didn’t need the extra hour of studying…I needed a nap.
Instead of extra shifts at the fitness center, I should’ve beelined it to the yoga studio.
And I also probably didn’t really need that extra large latte…and could’ve used some more water and an extra helping of broccoli.
Fortunately, I’m (somewhat) better about these kinds of things now. I’m spending more time outside, taking yoga classes, cooking, and reading. (I even try non-food-related books here and there!)
Prioritizing yourself can be a big challenge – I get it!
That’s why I enlisted the help of some dietitian friends who were gracious enough to share their favorite ways to rest and recharge.
Here’s what I learned…
Most of their responses fell into one or more of the following categories:
- Joyful movement (that’s exercise you actually enjoy!)
- Mindfulness and meditation
- Yoga and breathing
- Social connection and laughter
But what I loved most is that, even within each category, each RD had her own unique spin on self care.
The lesson: we’re individuals and we should each take time to better understand what works best for our unique lifestyles (and less time worrying about what someone else says we should do).
But before all that soul searching, take a moment to get inspired!
“My favorite way to relieve stress is to go for a walk! This is my time to think things through and troubleshoot–plus get some exercise. There’s a beautiful reservoir across the street from my apartment that I love to walk around.” —Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City, NJ
“I have beautiful trails near my house that run alongside a creek through a wooded area. I love to go for a run in the morning on these trails while listening to music. I feel great when I’m done and it helps me to think through my day.” —Kim Melton, RD, NutritionPro Consulting
“I call it ‘soul food.’ Gratitude, appreciation, connection with others, laughter, sharing, physical activity – the things we do that feed our soul are self care and relieve stress.” —Judy Barbe, RDN, LiveBest
“I would say my #1 self care is going for a rollerblade! It totally helps me relax, relieve my stress and not sweat the small stuff!” —Elizabeth Shaw, RD, Shaw’s Simple Swaps (Plus, read Liz’s post on mindfulness here!)
“I’m definitely a fan of meditating, but I have a hard time doing it on my own. Every so often I’ll go to a meditation “class” with comfy cushions and an instructor who leads the meditation with a particular theme in mind. I always feel so blissful after! I wrote a blog post about a particular studio in my neck of the woods. Also, having an aromatherapy diffuser in the room can really help my mood. They’re not expensive and can make such a positive impact. Whenever I have a citrus or peppermint scent wafting through the air, I feel happy. That reminds me…..I need to bring one to my office at work!” —Lindsey Pine, RD, Tasty Balance Nutrition
“I love restorative yoga. This is not sweating through quick asanas, in a typical 90 min class you might do just 5 restful poses. You are supported in your postures by blocks, pillows and bolsters. Ahhhhhhh peaceful for the mind and body.” —Dr. Pamela Fergusson, RD, Dr Pamela RD
“One of my favorite ways to wind down and de-stress is making smoothie bowls in the kitchen. I love playing around with ingredients and colors, photographing them and getting to eat them in the end. It’s truly a way I take my mind off of everything going on and has almost become a form of art for me!” —Wendie Schneider, RD, Pantry Doctor
What are your favorite ways to practice self care? How do you feel before and after? What tips do you have for helping others create habits for self care?