I often see advertisements for various products cleverly disguised as things we can do for self-care practices. Whether it’s a new organic face mask, diet trend, spa day or vacation trip everyone has something to sell you labeled as self-care.
Self-care is a radical act. Self-care is about prioritizing the things we need to not just survive, but thrive, and those things don’t need to cost a penny. In fact, it’s a good idea to be discerning about the types of self-care products that do cost an arm and a leg to take part in. If these practices aren’t accessible to people outside of elite wealthy communities, they probably don’t actually do much to take care of humans as a whole. Self-care practices don’t have to break the bank. Here are six simple (and free) self-care practices you can try today.
Pranayama (praa·nuh·yaa·muh) is the practice of becoming deeply conscious of the breath. Through the yogic lens, we take our prana (aka: life energy; vitality) in through the breath. One simple way this is understood: if the breath goes out and doesn’t come back in we lose all of our vitality. If the breath comes in and doesn’t go back out, we lose all of our vitality. We can maximize our vitality, by consciously choosing to breathe more deeply, and by training ourselves to take deep breaths more regularly.
Cleanse Your Space
It’s amazing how creating a little bit of outer space can help to create a little bit of inner space. That said sometimes cleaning can feel more like a daunting or overwhelming chore. Here are a few tips to create a self-care cleaning ritual.
Open a window to let some of the stale air out of the room and let fresh air in.
Light a candle and set a simple intention like: “I am creating space.”
Let go of the need to clean all the things, and just start small. Clean out a purse or backpack. Tidy a single counter top, sort the mail, or empty the kitchen sink. One task is enough.
Remember to breathe with intention as you tidy.
Check in with yourself once you have tidied your one area and see if it feels good to continue. If it doesn’t feel good to continue, thank yourself for taking the time to create some space. If it feels good to continue, begin again with another intention and slowly and mindfully continue your cleaning.
Create Ephemeral Art
One of my favourite self-care practices is to create an intentional piece of art. Tending to my creativity helps me express feelings that can be too difficult to verbalize. Ephemeral art is art which only lasts a short period of time. Creating ephemeral art is a good way to work with the intention of creating without the need to cling to our creations, since in time all of the creations made through this process will dissolve. Before beginning you can take a deep breath or two, and set an intention to be graceful in the process of creating and letting go of all attachments to your art. Here are a few ideas:
Using gathered pieces such as leaves, seeds, pinecones, flower petals, or found feathers, create a mandala-like piece for the garden. Over the weeks the birds will pick at it and carry away twigs and seeds, feathers will float away on the breeze and leaves will rot and dissolve.
Visit the beach during low tide and draw intricate designed in the sand using a stick. As the tide comes in, watch the art disappear back into the sea.
Draw patterns in the condensation on windows in cars or in the house as the weather shifts and cools.
Use sidewalk chalk to create colourful and intentional art outside of your home that can be washed away in the rain.
Rake the garden leaves into patterns or art pieces to be enjoyed by neighbours who walk by, and blown around when the winds return.
The key to the practice is to create the art with no attachment. Simply enjoy the process of making, without the need to keep, share, show, or cling to the piece. Release it back to nature to do what nature does best: dissolve all things over the course of time.
Unplug from Social Media
Social media can really bombard the senses. There is an overabundance of information on the internet – from opinions and facts, to pictures of your friend’s vacations, to advertisements and propaganda – it can be a lot to take in mentally. The internet is the perfect breeding ground to become infected with misinformation and fear. Seeing a constant stream of curated content can to feelings of comparison, envy, jealousy and discontentment. When we are plugged in, we are often missing what is happening in the reality of our lives. Sometimes we might even connect in order to escape what is happening in our real lives. Here are a few ideas for