The popular perception of aging can often get you down. Really down. You don’t want to believe the clichés. But, let’s face it…they’re everywhere. Mainstream culture is not going to care for you. But that doesn’t have to stop you from caring for yourself. A steady self-care routine goes a long way in challenging the reality of ageism. It’s never too late to put the ‘self’ in self-care!
Start with the basics
Obviously, self-care is defined by each of us. However, there are some basic starting points. Consider the following to get you moving in a good direction.
- Stress Management and Relaxation Techniques: There are some familiar choices like yoga, Tai Chi, and breathing exercises. But you might feel that watching a movie or reading a book to be more relaxing. Stay open to all options.
- Daily Movement, Activity, or Exercise: Whether it’s an aerobics class, a brisk walk, or some careful stretching, your body craves movement. What activity calls out to you? Are you doing it on a daily basis?
- Regular Sleep Patterns: Sleep is as basic as it gets. Getting yourself into a steady routine just may be self-care step number one. Guard your sleep.
- Healthy Eating Habits: What you eat and drink is your fuel. This doesn’t have to mean strict rules or fad diets. It’s more about being mindful of your general eating habits. Listen to your body.
Once this foundation is in place, the real fun begins! Ask yourself: What does self-care feel like to me?
5 Ways to Lift Your Spirits with a Healthy Self-Care Routine
1. Make art
Perhaps you were always creative and crafty. Most likely, you couldn’t find the time. With a lifetime of experiences to call on, just imagine what you can create now. What’s your medium?
- Graphic arts
2. Keep a journal
Get a pen. Buy a sturdy notebook. Put pen to paper and express yourself! We all have stories to tell. Plus, it’s so powerful to write down what you feel. There’s a good reason why we kept a diary in our younger days. It’s a source of strength and expression.
3. Change your daily routine
Your brain and body crave variety. Step outside your comfort zone. It could be as simple as taking a different route on a daily errand. Other ideas:
- Switch up your morning rituals
- Say yes in a situation when you ALWAYS say no
- Commit secret acts of kindness
- Vow to do something that will have you smiling when you journal about it
4. Rescue a non-human companion
There’s nothing in the world like the unconditional love you get from a pet. If you’ve rescued that non-human companion, the love is magnified. The snuggles. The laughs. The companionship. Your furry friend will remind you that you’re worth caring for.
5. Honor your younger self—then move on!
In the competition between the young you and older you, we know who typically wins. But why compete? Thank your former self. Appreciate him or her. Then move forward. Invent a ritual or create a ceremony. Do something to let go of the past. And never forget the lessons and wisdom you’ve gained.
If caring for yourself no longer feels natural to you, please don’t despair. The stigma of aging is enough to throw off anyone’s self-preservation. If you need help to develop your self-care routine or activities, help is available. Working with a counselor who understands the problems of the senior population is a proven path towards shifting your mindset. Your therapist will reignite that self-care spark. From there, you’ll be itching to create a healthy routine.