Life is a gift, but it’s OK to admit that sometimes that gift feels like too much to handle.
Whether you are a student, worker, parent, or a combination of all of those, sometimes there’s no way to take time to yourself, to do the things that you want to do. Be honest: when was the last time you truly indulged in self-care? When was the last time you truly had a good workout?
Yogi Rachel Scott is no stranger to busyness. An international trainer with over 4,000 hours leading training sessions under her belt, she helps yoga teachers and yoga studios all over the world develop online and in person certification courses. However, it’s by prioritizing self-care that she gets to do it all.
We asked Scott her top three tips for integrating meaningful self-care easily into your daily life. Below are her edited answers.
Physical activity and mindful movement are essential for supporting your healthy lifestyle. Movement practices such as yoga can help to increase circulation, strengthen muscles, mobilize your joints, massage your internal organs, and increase your breath capacity.
However, not only does yoga provide your body with a whole host of physical benefits, but it also helps you make a vital shift in your mental state. By transitioning out of “doing” mode into a “being/feeling” mode, you are able to step back and gain a valuable perspective.
The mindful movements of yoga also help support overall postural well-being. Throughout the day, we naturally will become constricted, tense, and less conscious in our movements. Over time, this constricted position can lead to muscle fatigue, tension, and even pain.
By engaging in a mindful movement practice like yoga, it becomes easier for you to feel these compensatory habits as they happen and intervene to cultivate stability, ease, and space.
Despite the clear benefits of physical self-care, it can be surprisingly challenging to make time for ourselves! Work, kids, and errands all seem to take precedence over even the smallest amount of self-maintenance.
Our minds think, ‘Just one more thing!’ and before we know it, we’ve been hunched over the computer all day and our bodies feel overworked and under-stretched.
Here are my three tips for integrating meaningful self-care easily into your daily life.
1. Embrace the micro-practice:
I used to think that a yoga practice had to be an hour-long to be worthwhile. Not so!
Anywhere from 2-15 minutes long, a micro-practice can fit into your day exactly when you need it.
For example, you could do a micro-practice first thing in the morning when you wake up, right after brushing your teeth at the sink, or by your car when you’re leaving the supermarket.
Here are some examples of what you can do:
A. Ten deep, mindful breaths
B. Two sun salutations
C. One yoga pose (like warrior 2) held for 10 breaths on each side
D. Three spinal rolls up and roll down (standing to forward fold and back up)
These small resets can be surprisingly impactful. Rather than trying to cram a thirty-minute practice into your day, integrate five micro-practices as you go.
Peppering micro-practices throughout your day will help you to increase your mindfulness, reset your nervous system, and interrupt your postural habits and compensations to bring more lasting and consistent change into your daily physicality.
2. Cultivate a home-based habit:
Choose a time of day (usually right after you wake up or directly before you go to sleep) that can be “yours.” It doesn’t have to b elong (this can be a micro-practice!); it could be a two-minute breathing exercise or thirty-minute stretch.
Be flexible: the amount of time that you spend in this practice space could vary day to day based on what you need. But make this physical yoga habit non-negotiable to your daily health.
After all, if we can take two minutes to brush out teeth, then we can find two minutes for mindful movement.
I suggest making this a home-based (rather than the studio) practice so that you can do your practice wherever you are, regardless of circumstance. When I roll out of bed, I put out my yoga mat and do a short series of postures. Some days I may do two sun salutations; other mornings I get to indulge in 45 minutes of flow.
The length of time is actually less important than the simple act of showing up, even if it’s just for five breaths. The habit of meeting myself every morning allows me to set a tone of presence, self-care, and embodiment that resonates for the rest of my day.
3. Remember the Why:
Often when we neglect our self-care, it’s because the immediacy of an “urgent” task seems more important than taking a few minutes for physical restoration.
This is an example of the “one more thing,” gremlin. This gremlin keeps us hopping from task to task until we finish our to-do list (which, by the way, is never done). While the gremlin is well-intentioned (trying to keep us safe and productive!), it is misguided.
In these moments, remind your inner gremlin that self-care actually helps us to be more present and efficient in our lives. Contrary to what our gremlin thinks, physical self-care and embodiment support us to be more effective and productive in everything that we do.
Self-care also refills our own well, allowing us to be more loving, compassionate and mindful moment to moment with others.
Contrary to what the mind may tell us, self-care is not a selfish act. In fact, it is what allows us to get outside of our own limited agenda and be more receptive and available to the world around us. Not only does this mindset shift help us to cultivate a better relationship with ourselves and others, but it’s also exactly the world needs to become healthier and kinder.
When we can keep these positive ripple effects in mind, suddenly two minutes of self-care doesn’t seem like such an indulgence.