How Mindfulness Is The Key To Your Self-Care
By Carley Schweet
In this article:
- What is Mindfulness?
- How Can I Practice Mindfulness?
- How Does Mindfulness Relate to Self-Care?
- 4 Tips for Practicing Mindfulness and Self-Care
- Final Thoughts on Your Mindful Self-Care Practice
Mindfulness. This word has been a buzz-word for the past few years, but what if this trending topic held the keys to not only creating self-care but helped to make it more supportive of your needs? The more that one begins to include mindfulness in their daily life, the more benefits around self-care they can start to experience.
As you will see, the ideas of self-care and mindfulness go hand-in-hand. They are essential to each other and can help one feel more empowered and at-ease, all while alleviating stress and the feeling of being overwhelmed. The more mindful one becomes, the better suited they are to tend to their individual needs on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level, and that’s what self-care is all about.
So, let’s take a closer look at how mindfulness can help shape your self-care practice, starting today. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about mindfulness and your self-care.
Before we dive into the relationship between mindfulness and self-care, let’s take a closer look at the actual definition of mindfulness.
According to the Oxford Languages Dictionary, mindfulness is “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.” On a deeper level, one could describe the state of mindfulness as “a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
It’s pretty relaxing just reading about the idea of mindfulness, huh?
When you practice mindfulness, you are actively bringing more awareness to your body as a whole, your mind included. This increased attention can help you to better tune in to what you need most to feel your best and, in turn, help you craft a self-care practice that is most supportive of you.
To effectively apply this skill to your self-care routine, it’s essential to talk about how to practice mindfulness in the first place. While your awareness of your needs will begin to increase with practice and eventually feel like second nature, you can take a few crucial steps if you’re just getting started with mindfulness.
For starters, it’s best to sit quietly for a few minutes and complete a full-body scan. Breathe deeply and pay special attention to the areas you feel tightness or tension. Ask yourself where this tension is coming from—is it physical or psychological? Physical tension can come from tight or sore muscles, while psychological tension—especially in the chest or stomach—can manifest from anxious feelings or stress.
Then, begin to take note of how your mind feels. Are you experiencing racing thoughts, or are you having a hard time slowing down? Perhaps your mind feels calm and grateful for the moment of stillness. Whatever you find, take a mental note of it.
When you’ve gathered this intel on your mind and body, take a moment to jot down an intention for your day based on what you found. For example, if you found that you were tense and had trouble breathing deeply, perhaps yours could be, “Today, I will make space to breathe deeply and with intention.”
The above practice is just one example of practicing mindfulness, so keep reading to learn more about incorporating mindfulness into your self-care practice.
Mindfulness and self-care are intrinsically related. When you practice self-care with intention (instead of doing it because you feel like you should), you practice mindfulness. You are tuning into your needs and deciding on self-care actions based on your body’s feedback. As mentioned above, the more mindful one becomes, the better suited they are to prioritize their individual needs and self-care.
Having an active mindfulness practice can significantly improve how effective your self-care practice is. The more aware and mindful you are about your holistic needs, the better able you are to craft an approach that profoundly supports you.
It’s when you abandon mindfulness and fall into the mindset trap of, “I should do this or that,” that self-care can become less supportive and feel more like something to cross off your to-do list. It’s at this point that many label self-care as “indulgent” or “selfish” or “ineffective,” but the reality is that they simply need to approach self-care differently.
Sure, you may experience some temporary benefits by strong-arming your self-care, but it will be nothing compared to the long-term benefits found when you add mindfulness into your routine.
If you’re feeling inspired to create a self-care practice founded on mindfulness, keep reading. The four tips shared below will help you do just that.
1. Dedicate at least 60 seconds a day to mindfulness
While one minute doesn’t seem like a long time, when you carve out space in your day to sit in silence for a beat, you’re giving yourself a chance to connect with your body. It’s not often that we pause and disconnect from our busy world, but you can feel your body immediately relax after just a few seconds of stillness.
As mentioned above, these pauses can help you tune into your body and uncover where you need the most support. Also, a moment of mindfulness can help lower stress levels and improve your mood. Bonus points if you take some deep belly breaths in there, too.
2. Curate a self-care corner in your home
Make self-care easy and accessible, so when you finally create some time for yourself, you have everything you need all in one place. Items you could include in your self-care corner are:
- Bags of your favorite tea (try this relaxing chamomile one)
- A favorite book or stash of magazines
- A face mask (try this super-hydrating one)
- A meditation playlist or relaxing soundtrack
- Body butter to moisturize your skin
- Foot balm for a foot rub
- A set of relaxing essential oils
Part of mindfulness is being prepared and ready to tend to your needs when the chance arises. Curating a self-care corner can help remove one barrier to practice by ensuring that some helpful self-care items are readily available to you.
3. Set an intention each day
When you set a daily intention, you are creating the framework for growth, all while cultivating a greater sense of mindfulness. Intentions help to invite clarity into your life because they encourage you to focus on one specific thought at a time. What would your intention for today be?
If you need help getting started, here are some example intentions:
- I intend to lead from my heart.
- I intend to speak up when something isn’t right.
- I intend to make moments for myself.
- I intend to take care of my needs.
- I intend to create healthy boundaries.
Start each day by writing down an intention for that day. Ideally, you will craft your intentions based on the feelings and feedback received throughout your growing mindfulness practice.
4. Communicate your feelings
Part of having an active mindfulness practice includes speaking up and using your voice to share what’s on your mind and in your heart. When you communicate this, you’re not only practicing an emotional form of self-care, but you’re also practicing mindfulness by being in touch with what’s initially on your mind. Do your best to open up and be vulnerable about what you feel with those around you. It can be such a relief to unpack some of the mental load you carry and feel support from loved ones.
When you actively overlook or ignore your thoughts, feelings, and emotions, you can begin to feel resentful at those around you. You may even find yourself feeling frustrated because you think that others overlook your needs and don’t give you the attention you deserve. If you’re feeling this way, consider how open you are with speaking up and sharing your emotions. When it comes down to it, do you share your thoughts and feelings with others, or do you tend to bottle them up inside for one reason or another?
As you can see, self-care and mindfulness are very closely connected. When practiced correctly, one cannot exist without the other. Ideally, you create your self-care practice on a solid foundation of mindfulness and continue to practice this newly found awareness as you care for your needs throughout the day.
Alternatively, when you practice mindfulness, you are also practicing physical, emotional, and spiritual self-care. Isn’t it interesting how closely connected these two principles are?
No matter how you choose to practice self-care, please consider that what’s most important is that you are mindful of your needs and then take action to tend to them. When your self-care practice isn’t built upon mindfulness, you may begin to feel stressed out, irritated, or as though self-care isn’t helpful. If you find yourself feeling this way, that could be because you’re practicing self-care from a place of “should” rather than a mindful curiosity of what your mind and body require to feel good.