If you've had the chance to read the first edition of self care during the holidays, you are becoming familiar with this idea of adding in some personal “saving graces." If you haven't had the chance to glance at it, here's another chance! And even though the holidays are behind us, our schedules are still as busy as ever. Am I right?

We’ve received five potential ways to keep peace and sanity amidst our business through the first post, and I'm here to offer five more! Try to think of this list as adding a variety of options to the first set… we all love options, don't we?! Taking time to care for ourselves helps us stay calm in the chaos, breath in the midst of busy, and have joy in the midst of the mess. Please treat yourself, completely guilt-free this year!

Let’s get practical. Some of the choices on our previous list offer the benefit of instant gratification; meeting a specific want or need in a moment of bliss or relaxation (a sea salt, frankincense, lavender bath, for example!). But other choices offer benefits that will increase with time – like choosing moderation over overindulgent binge snacking. (Guilty!) Similarly, both benefits will be represented on this list as well. If choosing only a couple of these ways of self-care, consider at least one from our instant gratification category and one that offers benefits that will grow with time!

Adding to our variety of options:

6) Daily Exercise. Our readers range from marathon runners to those who've not been able to even mutter the word fitness since the conception of their first child. Our fitness goals are all very different (or non-existent), and so many of us moms struggle with the all-or-nothing mentality; if I can't give the time and energy to exercise I once was able to, I'll just have to wait until a new season of life. The challenge with this mentality is that a young mother's season as a young mother tends to be quite long! It also morphs into being a mother of school children, and then a mother of teens! Our physical health simply cannot wait on our capacity to return to our “pre-baby” time and energy. So instead, make simple plans and set simple and attainable goals that serve your physical fitness and emotional wellness. You may laugh at my suggestion, but I (being a certified Pilates instructor) am a firm believer in this method, and practice this method personally more often than other routines. Are you ready for it? Five minutes per day. That's all! Commit to investing five minutes each day into building physical fitness into your routine. It may grow from there, but don't force extra time. Be consistent, routine and committed to the five minutes and enjoy the benefits of activating muscle groups, breathing deeply, and increasing strength and stamina.

Choose a simple routine such as:

  • 1 minute plank
  • 10 squats
  • 10 push-ups
  • 10 high knees or straight leg lifts front and/or side
  • 1 minute plank

Activate several muscle groups within this attainable routine, and do it daily! Enjoy the benefits of increased strength and increased mental clarity!

7) Daily stretch. This goes hand and hand with daily exercise and provides much of the same benefit! You won't be as surprised this time by my encouragement to a mere five minutes per day. This does not need to occur at the same time as your exercise, and is a great addition to your getting ready for bed routine!

An example of a simple routine:

  • Forward fold (hands toward toes with straight legs)
  • Sidebends (reaching right arm over your head to your left side and then switch arms)
  • Butterfly sit (feet together, knees wide)
  • Twist torso (spinal rotation)
  • Forward fold

Or if you’re familiar with yoga, do a few sun salutations!

8) Drink water. This, aside from deep breathing, has the potential to be our most simple self-attentive move this season! We are tired and feel extra hungry when we are not well hydrated. And being over-thirsty may make us crave sugary or caffeine-filled drinks that we’ll regret.

9) Add a lemon. There are tons of health benefits of lemons – not to mention the delicious zip they add to our daily water intake. One favorite reason to start ingesting lemons, especially through the cold/flu season, is the environment the lemon juice creates inside our bodies, making it less hospitable to germs and bugs floating around! Add lemon into a tall glass of water, and add five drops of liquid stevia for an unbelievably refreshing lemonade treat! I truly look forward to this as a DAILY treat. Feel free to add or substitute a lime if that’s more your taste. 

10) Take time to reflect and be thankful. When our to-do list is stacked one event/activity/plan on top of another, we lack the time to enjoy the relationships and events involved, and forget that likely each item on our to-do list is to show love, appreciation, support, or offer help to one of our loved ones. As we prepare food for our families and shop in overcrowded grocery stores, let's be thankful for our means to buy groceries and take a moment to give to or serve someone less fortunate.