I find that really small steps can make a big difference in how we feel and how we react to the people around us, particularly during the holiday season.
This might even be a good time to try something new, starting with a tiny step that is easy to achieve and working up from there.
I want to share some of my favorite ways of taking care of myself with the help of technology.
I am currently visiting my family in Amman and I try to do at least one circuit of the Full Body workout in this seven minute high intensity interval training (HIIT) free app called Seven which you can get on iTunes or Google Play. All you need is a chair and preferably a mat but you can also do it on a carpet. Seven minutes doesn’t seem like much but the intensity of it makes me feel like it is better than nothing, and because it is so short, it is hard to justify not having time to do it.
You might want to start with this video version that has great explantations before moving to the app.
Several of my clients have told me how much they like doing Yoga With Adriene - you can find her YouTube channel here and she is also great if you are just starting yoga or can’t get to a studio.
Finding a yoga or pilates or other type of class where you are travelling is a great way to feel like a local while doing something for yourself.
The most important thing when it comes to physical self-care is not to fall into an all or nothing trap. Even just a little movement or stretching can make a difference.
Taking even just 3 minutes to turn within through meditation or breathing can make a big difference when we are surrounded by people all day.
One of my favorite apps for meditation is Calm. You can download a free trial here and even if you don’t get the paid version after the trial, there is still a lot that is available for free. I especially like the Loving Kindness Meditations (even just 3 minutes on certain days), and often use the Body Scan and Sleep Stories when I have a hard time falling asleep.
The most important thing is to notice how you feel. Does 3 minutes of meditation or breathing already make a little difference? From there, you can easily build up to 5 or 10 minutes, and then go back to 3 minutes on days when there is less time.
Obviously, for me boundaries are important any time of year, and this is also a time of year when they might come in handy, especially with family.
I really like this text by Daniell Koepke on Instagram which acts as a reminder that it’s OK to upset others if it means taking care of ourselves.
At the end of the day, you belong to yourself. Other people might push and pull and try to convince you to renegotiate your needs. And in those moments, maintaining your boundaries can feel like guilt and shame and selfishness — but there is nothing shameful or selfish but enacting self-care. You don’t owe it to anyone to abandon the things you need to cope and survive. You come first. Their anger and sadness might feel uncomfortable, but not as uncomfortable as existing under terms that jeopardize your wellbeing. They can yell and cry. They can feel angry — and those feelings are valid — but that doesn’t discount the importance of your needs. You belong to yourself. Not to your family. Not to your friends. Not to lovers or peers or acquaintances. You belong to yourself, and if you don’t protect your space and energy, no one else will. - Daniell Koepke
This is one of the loneliest times of year and I want to urge you to reach out to others if you are feeling lonely. Don’t isolate or wallow in self-pity. Other people are probably feeling the same way, and what if you could be the person to reach out to someone who is lonely?
If you know someone who is grieving or alone this season - reach out to them. So often we avoid these moments because we are afraid we won’t know what to say or that a text message is not enough, yet even a short message saying you are thinking of them can make a difference.
Disconnecting to connect
I love how when technology is used well, it can allow us to take better care of ourselves or to reach out and meet or connect with others.
I can also appreciate that there are moments when we need to disconnect to connect, and those are the moments to put away the phone and really be present with people.
For me, the gift of presence is the greatest gift we can give both ourselves and others - and sometimes technology can help us do that, while other times it can get in the way.