Woman resting with cup of hot drink and book near fireplace

Self-care is about nourishing ourselves mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. It’s about responding to our needs in the moment. Eating when we’re hungry. Drinking water when (or before) we’re thirsty. Stretching when tension sits between our shoulders. Self-care is about kindness, patience, and understanding. Below are seven self-care practices for supporting yourself.

Set a morning ritual. Instead of leaping out of bed and racing to get ready or stumbling about like a zombie, slow down. Start each day with something wonderful for you, such as a nurturing 10-minute routine. Maybe it’s reading from the Bible and journaling about what you read. Maybe it’s lighting a lavender candle and reading a different poem every day. Because these type of rituals ground you. Because they remind you of the beauty in life. Because they help you breathe better.

Set an evening ritual. What helps you to unwind and relax? Maybe it’s taking a hot shower, applying lotion, and putting on your favorite pajamas. Maybe it’s drinking a cup of tea in complete, utter quiet. Maybe it’s using a coloring book. Maybe it’s getting lost in a novel.

Check your emotional temperature. Try this simple practice for connecting to your feelings every day. Because identifying and processing our feelings is a powerful way to care for ourselves.

Engage your senses. Eat foods that excite your taste buds. Do you like sweet, spicy, sweet and sour? What textures do you prefer? What about the flavors? Treat your taste buds to something special. Find scents that calm and refresh you. Candles. Perfume or cologne. Lotion. Surround yourself with soft, silky, clean, comforting fabrics. Clothes. Sheets. Blankets.

Give your eyes a feast. Treat them to beautiful, serene scenery, whether it’s at home or outdoors. Surround yourself with colors you love. Visit botanical gardens or museums or whatever else inspires you. What are your favorite sounds? Pay attention to the symphony of chirping birds, falling rain or silence.

Write letters to yourself. Dear M, what I really want you to know is… Dear M, today was a really tough day. Dear M, I’m so confused about…Dear M, you did your best…Dear M, I’m really proud of you for…

This might feel awkward at first. But pen a letter or two, and see how it goes. Address it to the you of today, or your 10- or 15- or 25-year-old self. Maybe it’ll spark some insights. Maybe it’ll help you process a painful feeling. Maybe it’ll help you celebrate and feel good.

List your loves every day. Today, I loved FaceTiming with a friend. Today, I loved simply sitting by the window and listening to the rain. Today, I loved baking bread from scratch. Today, I loved eating at my favorite restaurant. Today, I loved watching the sunset. Today, I loved working on that project. Today, I loved walking around the lake. How can you do more of what you love? How can you structure your days so they include what you love?

Have meetings with yourself. Every week try to sit down and think through your days. Explore. Examine. Evaluate. And reevaluate. What’s been great lately? What’s been frustrating? What are you learning about yourself? About work? About life? What would you like to change? Do you need more rest? Is something missing? Do you need support? Do you need more fun? Do you need to play and embrace imperfection? What do you need to say ‘no’ to? What would you like to shout ‘yes’ to? What can you remove from your to-do list? What would you like to add? What are you yearning for?

If none of these ideas resonate with you, I hope they inspire you to think of other self-care practices that do. Incorporate nourishing activities throughout your days. Provide for yourself. Respond to your needs. Let yourself feel well-cared for.

Image credit: Yastremska/Bigstockphoto.com