Wellbeing coach Rachel Letham shares her tips for embracing the new season with small acts of kindness for yourself
How are your energy levels right now? Do you feel like you are giving from an empty cup or are you embracing each day as it comes and bursting with energy? Some activities deplete your energy and others replenish it. It’s all about knowing what works for you.
Self care is a crucial activity to include in your life so that you are not running on empty – so that you have something left to give to yourself and then to others. Self care is any activity that we do with intention in order to take care of our mental, physical and emotional health. It doesn’t have to mean a spa day or meditation for an hour each day. It’s not about how much money you spend or how much time you take to do activities. It can be as simple as making small adjustments to your routines to make sure you are living well and feeling the best you possibly can.
My favourite analogy when it comes to self care is the oxygen mask from the in-flight safety demonstration: “Please put on your own oxygen mask before helping others”. Why? Because if you’ve passed out, you are of no use to anyone else – so grab your oxygen mask AKA self care strategies and be ready to breathe in deep!
Season of renewal
You might notice your energy levels ebb and flow from season to season – some people flourish from autumn through winter, while others feel their best during the spring and summer. Personally, I love the feeling of possibility that comes from springtime. It’s almost electric… can you feel it?
Spring is synonymous with starting afresh, new beginnings and there is such energy in this season of rebirth. We ‘wake up’ at this time of year, nature around us blooms and we emerge out of winter with a sense of renewal. Now is the time to re-energise your self care routine and revamp how you take time to recharge.
It’s the perfect moment for getting in touch with your senses; opening your eyes to all the newness emerging, listening to bird song, taking in fresh scents, soft light and longer days. Take time to live well this season but take care not to do too much. Go steadily in spring and move with the season as the environment around you starts to blossom.
Everything blooms in its own time
The results of your efforts when it comes to self care and building tiny, daily habits might not be seen immediately. Let’s compare it to gardening, an apt spring metaphor.
You need to prepare the soil, plant the seeds, water them and patiently wait for your garden to grow. Therefore take your time to practise your self care habits daily, try to do them to the best of your ability and you will see growth and feel nourishment.
Often at this time of year, we are drawn to spending more time in nature. Fully embrace this by taking moments in your day to notice what is around you. Tap into the beauty that exists around you and contribute to your environment in your own way. This will raise your energy levels and help you to enjoy the life you live.
Let your mind wander
If you fill every single moment to the brim, you’ll never get anything of importance accomplished. Why? Because you need the spaces in between the things that you do, in order to consider what to work on next.
This tip is all about pausing and noticing where your mind goes if you let it wander. We all need more mind wandering episodes in order to come up with new ideas. Focus is great, but it is overrated in so many ways.
Let your mind wander when you do something fun, simple and that is a habit to you – such as walking the dog or enjoying a long hot bath. You don’t need to think of anything specific, but see where your thoughts take you. By doing this activity and letting the mind wander, it allows us to pull in all the unresolved loops and tasks to the front of our mind.
Ever get a brain wave when driving about where you put that thing you’ve been looking for? Or maybe you remember someone you want to call whilst walking the dog? It’s all about refreshing the mind and renewing – the perfect moment of self care for you.
Tend to something
Watching something grow that you have tended to, whilst enjoying the sunshine, can be a great mood booster. I’m not talking about planting out anything too massive, a simple window box will do; especially if you don’t have a garden or outside space. Growing hardy plants, chillies, herbs or strawberries in a window box can reap rewards for your mind, body and spirit.
Studies have found that the mental health benefits of gardening are extensive. Not only can regular gardening reduce mental health problems like depression and anxiety, but it can also reduce stress and combat high blood pressure, as well as improving overall physical fitness if you are tending to a big space.
Enjoy a gratitude walk
This is something great to do at the weekend. Go for a gratitude walk and leave your phone at home. Notice your surroundings and be in the present moment. Take time to breathe in the fresh air deeply. Find things that you are grateful for and take note of them in your head or say out loud why you are thankful, if you are walking with a friend.
Vary the things you can see, touch and smell to bring all the senses into this process. Allow yourself to focus entirely on the environment around you and be in the present moment.
Bring the outdoors in
Every week, I buy myself a beautiful bunch of flowers. They don’t have to be an expensive bouquet – normally they are supermarket tulips that are less than 10 and last for weeks. Why do I do this? Well, it is doing something for me – this is a small gift each week to say “hey you’ve done alright, you’ve survived the week”.
However, it’s more than just self gifting for self care. The real self care comes in when, on a daily basis, I awaken my senses as I walk into my kitchen. I see the flowers and they make me smile. The colours dazzle in front of my eyes and I love to see how cut flowers develop as they age.
Then there is the perfume, the scent – usually subtle but still there, something to awaken my senses in the morning and get all facets of my brain functioning. It’s also my way of being in touch with nature and in tune with the seasons. It doesn’t have to be cut flowers – you could have a favourite house plant that brings you similar joy, or nurture flowers in your own garden to be able to bring inside to enjoy all your hard work.
Get grounded outside
Getting grounded is wonderful for your body, mind and soul. This is a really simple technique to bring you into a state of mindfulness. Find a nice quiet space outside – somewhere you won’t be disturbed – and if you feel comfortable, close your eyes. Imagine a triangle in front of you.
Visualise a wide base, coming all the way up to a point. This is the shape of the breathing technique. Take a deep breath in and visualise travelling up the side of the triangle. When you reach the top, hold your breath for a second, then release the breath slowly as you travel down the other side to the wide base; feeling grounded where you are sitting now.
Repeat this ten times. It will calm you and open up your senses. Feel the air moving over your skin – what does it feel like? Listen out for sounds that you don’t normally notice. What can you smell in the fresh spring air? There are so many reasons to love spring and as we look forward to a future without restrictions, this is the perfect time to reconnect with nature and ourselves.
Join the Planet Mindful community and make a pact to prioritise your self care – try an issue here for just 99p!