Self Care Activities! These can be Active or Reflective! What is Your Favorite?

I had a wonderful weekend away in Pueblo, Colorado.  It is necessary for me to have a required number of continuing education hours to maintain my membership status in the American Massage Therapy Association.  I was fortunate enough to take part in a class detailing orthopedic assessment of the upper body.  The course was taught by Whitney Lowe, who came in from Oregon to teach 51 massage therapists.  It was refreshing, great to engage with lots of new people and enhance my existing techniques.  It would even say it qualified as self-care!  I came away excited about what I do and motivated to bring my work up to the next level in caring for my clients.  Yes, indeed, this was a good exercise in self-care!

So let’s take a look in depth at different methods or activities that might be described as self-care.  This is a list that I have developed over the years in discussing the topic with others.

It is possible to break down self-care activities into two categories, active and reflective.  Active activities often might involve exercise and bringing the heart rate up into aerobic activity.  This helps to clear the mind, getting the musculoskeletal system moving, improving circulation and even raise the endorphin level that ends up leaving us energized and invigorated.  If you are already an avid active type then this is nothing new to you. 

If, however, you have been complacent in physical exercise it can be challenging to get going.  Many people have been so inactive for so long that they have become de-conditioned.  If you feel this might be the case for you I might make a couple of suggestions.  First, have a complete physical examination done by your primary doctor.  This will help you to see if there are any systems that might be compromised by physical exertion.  It also helps you look at some objective numbers regarding your physical health such as blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, etc.  This is extremely helpful in setting goals and getting motivated.  Second, talk to someone at your local recreation center or gym about helping you set up a realistic program to get started.

So here are some examples of active self-care.

  • Walking – It can be a set time each day, in the morning, during lunch, or after work.  Or can you walk to the store for just a few items that you can carry home instead of driving?  Think about ways to integrate more walking into your lifestyle.
  • Running – You don’t have to be a marathoner to begin running.  There are great programs available  that will help get you in shape such as the “couch to 10K” plan
  • Cycling – Of course, this is one of my favorites.  But when I first started riding over 30 years ago it involved short rides with people in my community.  Cycling, in my opinion, is one of the best activities that can be done over a lifetime without creating a lot of wear and tear on the body. 
  • Yoga – I would consider this both an active and reflective activity.  After I spent two and a half years living in Romania I really struggled finding my place back in America.  The yoga room allowed me to quiet my brain and think a lot of things over.  It was beneficial to me mentally, physically and spiritually.
  • Hiking, Camping, Canoeing, Skiing, Snowshoeing…. – Any activity in the outdoors is just plain good for you.  I have a very good friend that began doing short hikes about a year ago.  She wasn’t inclined to join a gym but felt she needed to start getting physical exercise.  She has become an active hiker, spending a significant amount of time below the Flatirons in Boulder.  Getting outdoors goes beyond exercise.  It stimulates every sense in our body.  We are sensory people!  Our body needs to feel the wind on our skin, the smell of flowers or pine needles and the earth crunching under our feet.
  • Volunteer – Again, this is both active and reflective.  Serving others in some capacity is a great way to bring perspective into our lives.  While life can be challenging at times, there is always someone that can use a helping hand, a listening ear or to know that someone cares about them.  Consider volunteering in your community one time a month.

Reflective activities stimulate our brain and our creative thinking.  They bring out the dreamer in us.  They motivate us to do more.  Below is a starting point for some reflective self-care activities.

  • Reading – What a wonderful activity for self-care.  This can be anything from a trade journal, to non-fiction to a good novel.  It can be a daily meditation to start the day.  You can learn how to build something by reading a book.  I did this a few years ago in building a cold-frame for my garden.
  • Gardening – The cold frame lent itself to another favorite activity of mine, gardening.  I love bringing in fresh lettuce or other vegetables from my garden.  It soothes my soul to quietly toil in the soil.
  • Journaling – The other day I had responded to a comment someone had about self-care and the “10 minute window”.   If you have children it would be so beautiful to carry a little journal where you could pen letters to your children.  Let the journal fill over the years and give it to them as a graduation present.
  • Birding – Get a bird book and begin checking off birds in your neighborhood or in your travels.
  • Wildflower identification – Can you name the trees in your local park or the flowers in the community garden or local open space? 
  • Quilting – I’ve never done it but I know plenty of people that love to do this.
  • Scrapbooking – Here is another wonderful activity to capture memories for the future.
  • Massage or other forms of bodywork – Of course I have to mention this but for many people one hour on the massage table is one of the few times they stop and practice stillness.
  • Diet – When I speak to diet, I don’t mean dieting to lose weight.   Think about what you put into your body.  Get creative with one new meal each week that you haven’t tried before.  Over the last year here is a favorite meal of mine.  Take some root vegetables such as carrots, yams, beets, radishes, etc and roast them in a roasting pan at 475 degrees for about thirty minutes.  For the last ten minutes add some chopped scallions soaked in rice vinegar.  Meanwhile on a burner, cook some red lentils and add soy sauce or Bragg’s Amino Acids.  Make a bed of the lentils and put the veggies over top.  In thirty minutes you have a fabulous meal! 

I have one last note as I finish this up.  I do not believe that television is a good self-care tool.  I think it is fine to lie on the couch and watch television and I do it just like anyone else.  It can be a great escape or when you are too tired to do much else.  However, quite often it can agitate the mind, create chaos and is often just quite disturbing.  So, like all things, use it in moderation and have your family members hold you accountable.

I’ve enjoyed writing about self-care and hope you’ve discovered some new things or are reflecting on how you can implement a self-care plan into your life.  I’m sure that you have other wonderful ideas that can be defined as self-care.  List them below in the comments section for others to hear about.  Especially for those of you living internationally, we Americans can stand to hear some great ideas from around the world! 

Thanks for reading!



The post Self Care Activities! These can be Active or Reflective! What is Your Favorite? appeared first on Raining Faith Massage.

The post Self Care Activities! These can be Active or Reflective! What is Your Favorite? appeared first on Raining Faith Massage.

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