One of the best ways to relieve stress in your life, to feel good in your body, and consequentially aiming to improve treatment outcomes and your ability to fight off infections, is by doing the things you love. This is pretty simple to understand in principle, but let’s take a better look at how this looks in practice!
Treat Yo Self, Guilt Free
Taking You Time and practicing self-love means prioritizing your own needs over the extraneous pressures in your daily life. We live in a culture that prioritizes productivity and shames us for engaging in practices that seem self-indulgent. Many of us experience that voice in our head telling us that we don’t deserve to take breaks, we don’t need that massage, or that we don’t have time to put our feet up, we can’t afford certain luxuries.
But, part of self-care, of prioritizing our wants and needs, is telling that voice to sit this one out. Give yourself permission to engage with doing the things you love. You are allowed to make space and time in your life to do things that may seem frivolous or unnecessary. At the end of the day, if it makes you happy, relieves your stress, makes you feel good, then it is an important and valid part of your life and treatment program that should be supported.
By doing things you love and by staying open minded about identifying new hobbies that interest you, you can ensure you are taking care of yourself, ensure you don’t get stuck in a rut, and continue to engage your mind and body in meaningful ways.
For many people it can be quite difficult to justify treating yourself to something that you enjoy or want. After all, going out to a nice dinner or getting a massage would be considered by many to be expensive or unnecessary. But indulging your desires is an important way to show yourself love.
There will always be reasons not to do something, but prioritizing yourself and your needs is a good and positive thing to do, especially if you are having a difficult time. After all, how good of a parent/friend/employee can you be if your needs are not being met and you are not a happy person. According to Amy Morin at Psychology Today, treating yourself better through positive self talk and self-kindness can increase motivation, boost happiness, improve body image, enhance self-worth, foster resilience to adversity and reduce psychological distress.
With all of that to gain, why wouldn’t you take some time to watch some Netfix or go get a massage when you are having a rough day?
Everyone Is Different
There’s nothing I find more relaxing than playing a game of Magic: The Gathering, heading to the beach to play a competitive game of beach volleyball or going for an hour long run with my dog.
To some people, this may sound like a great way to relax. To others, it may sound like a nightmare. To you, maybe sitting down and reading a good book is more relaxing.
The point I am making is that what one person finds relaxing and enjoyable is different than the next person, and that is okay! It’s what makes us unique. What is important is that you have things that you love and that you find relaxing and enjoyable ways to participate in self-care.
So how do you do that?
Find Your People And Try Something New
There are so many fun, interesting and enjoyable activities, pastimes and hobbies out there that you may not know where to begin.
My suggestion is to sit down and take 10 minutes to write out a list of activities, hobbies or things you have always wanted to do but never gave a real shot. They can be realistic or totally whacky! The point of this exercise is not to judge the activities, but just to get them on the page.
We can take a look at mine for an example.
Write a short story
Cut down a tree with an axe
Learn to crochet
Learn to cook Malaysian cuisine
Learn how to fence
Read a book
Learn how to whittle
Volunteer at a soup kitchen
Organize a day at a soup kitchen with friends
Organize a game night with friends
Run a dungeons and dragons campaign for friends
Play in a Magic: The Gathering in person tournament
Try live streaming a video game
Spend a night sitting by a fire watching Netflix
Travel to Finland
Go swimming in the ocean
Learn to surf
Run a marathon
Do a team building activity with friends
Do an escape room
Go out to Benihanas
Make sushi for friends at home
Volunteer at a blood bank
Do nice things for other people
Learn how to make a shelf
Make a dish off the internet I’ve never had before
Go out to a new restaurant and order something I’ve never had before
Go out dancing
Go see a live concert
Go to an art gallery opening
Get a massage
Learn how to trade stocks
Memorize every country in the world
This list is ALL over the place, but that’s okay! The goal of this exercise is not to judge what you write and rather to just get your ideas out. As you can see, sometimes writing one idea would lead to an association with another one (“go swimming in the ocean” followed by “go surfing” for example.) If you don’t let yourself write out random or unusual ideas that pop into your head, you might miss out on something interesting or new.
After you write out your list, make another list (don’t throw this one away!) of top 5 or top 10 list of things you would really like to try and then actually schedule a time to do one. Yes, like once you have the list, put one of the activities into your calendar!
It can be easy to let the momentum from doing this activity go away and forget the whole thing, so making sure you pick an activity and scheduling it is important. Once you have the activities scheduled, invite friends or family to join you!
Take Time For Yourself
By getting out there and trying something new, you take a step closer to being a happier, healthier and less stressed person. If you give yourself permission to take time during the day to do what you love or to try something new you might end up loving, you will have a more enjoyable day, a less stressful day, and you will give yourself valuable time to recharge your batteries to make sure you can take on the next day. Exploring new potential hobbies, activities and skills makes it more difficult for you to get stuck in a rut and it ensures that you take time to focus on yourself, which is something many people find difficult to do.
What are the top 5 things you want to try doing? What did you schedule into your calendar? Let us know in the comments below!