5 Simple Self-Care Habits To Develop a Healthy Brain
Life is made up of multitudes of choices. Sometimes we have trouble getting started with new beginnings.
To begin to live out new habits isn’t always easy, but self-care is important. Here are 5 easy steps to help you re-calibrate and refocus!
1. Pause! Take a Deep Breath!
Take opportunities to Pause. As you do, breathe deeply in. Pause. Hold your breath to the count of 5, or 6. Whew! Exhale deeply.
Be intentional. Take time to regularly Pause, breathe, and be still for a few moments. Schedule Pauses into your day; you will find it increases your clarity and quiets your nerves.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Pause. Take a deep breath. And take your first step!
2. Smile More
As you move out of the cycle of December’s activities into the January slump, take time to Pause! Take a deep breath, and smile. Put the kettle on to boil and make your favorite tea. Smile as you enjoy the aroma wafting from your cup.
Did you know smiling is good for your health?
- It improves the quality of your life.
- It makes people around you feel safer.
- It reduces hostility and anger.
- AND it helps you face negative emotional events.
It is easy to frown, to grumble and complain, or worry about all you have to do. Being negative momentarily feels empowering, but it will “leave you feeling helpless, hopeless, and victimized”.
Frowning is harmful to your hippocampus, the library of your memories. Over time negativity causes it to shrink, also shrinking your memory!
Smiling off and on when you exercise improves your performance. Probably because when you smile, you relax. Relaxing makes your movements more economical!
Quite simply, smiling feels good. It also helps us become more grateful.
And oh the joy to Pause, step back for a different perspective as you smile and take time to look about through eyes of gratitude. As you Pause, lift your eyes off whatever problem confronts you and take time to really see those around you through the lens of gratitude.
There is much to be grateful for. Giving thanks is an act of being intentional. Intentionality is important for your brain. And what is important for your brain, is important for you.
3. Open Your Eyes to Find Things to Appreciate
Gratitude doesn’t come naturally. It has to be learned and cultivated. Learning to look for things we can smile about, appreciate, and be grateful for pays huge dividends. Fresh sightedness brings a fresh perspective that moves you out of the box of negativity and helps you see life in a positive way.
When you go out the door, Pause! Take a deep breath. Smile.
Look around. Notice your surroundings. A butterfly gracefully fluttering by. A tiny frog on the path. A flower poking its head through the soil or snow. A weed pushing its way through cement. At the market, smile as you gaze at the colors all around you. Notice the gnarled hands of the little old lady wrapping the veggies you are buying. Or the shy smile of the toddler gazing at you behind her father’s leg.
Take another deep breath. Exhale. If its cold, enjoy the plume of smoky vapor that escapes in front of you. Be thankful you can breathe. With intentionality, inhale. Exhale again and observe the beauty and temporariness of the vapor rising in front of you.
If you learn to see through the eyes of gratitude, you will begin to collect precious experiences that make you smile.
4. Begin A Gratitude Journal
In the midst of shopping or scurrying around, Pause! Look for a journal that catches your eyes, with a quality that awakens your senses. Rough or smooth? Does it feels nice in your hands? Or do you love the colors or design? Perhaps the pages invite you to write on them.
That is a great start. It helps to have an incentive to encourage you in this point.
List 3 things you are grateful for every day. Yes, making a new habit is helpful. So choose a time. Morning when you rise or evening before sleep. Place the journal on your bedside table where it catches your eye. Before you turn off the light to sleep, Pause for a moment of reflection. Self-care requires intentionality.
A thanksgiving journal helps you view the world in a fresh way. One of its first benefits is to reduce depression.
Keeping a thanksgiving journal activates your hypothalamus to produce hormones that increase health of various organs as it regulates physiological functions such as your body’s temperature, your sleep cycles, and your mood – reducing anxiety.
5. Enjoy Your Senses
Sometimes – especially when looking at lights at night or at Christmas lights – I squint my eyes. It may look silly but it helps me Pause. The lights sparkle and the mingling colors give off lovely rays I would never have noticed otherwise.
To Pause and take a deep breath, smiling as you inhale the cool, brisk air, or breathe deeply of the scent of pine needles. When your senses come alive, it grounds you in the moment.
I have a diffuser for essential oils. I use a variety – different scents at different times. It is a fresh opportunity for me to Pause, inhale deeply to enjoy the aroma, perhaps cinnamon, or wintergreen, or a woodsy scent.
Pleasant aromas like orange or lavender help calm and relax the brain; they are great for anxiety disorders.
Scents trigger memories, strengthening neuronal connections. The scent of cinnamon reminds me of the aroma of the kitchen when Mom was baking cinnamon rolls.
Such activities are good for your health, for your brain, and for your spirit. And as you Pause, take time to be grounded, present in the moment, it helps develop gratitude.
There is something winsome about people who are grateful. Did you know the phrase “give thanks” is used 40 times in the King James Version of the Bible?
As you take time to enjoy life, you will find gratitude welling up in your heart. Life is always more enjoyable when faced with thanksgiving and gratitude for the small things.
What motivates me to practice the self-care mentioned above is knowing the Lord Jesus loves me, even when I fall on my face. He is gracious and always ready to give me a fresh start.
Did you know He loves and values you too? No matter what you have done, His death on Calvary paid the penalty; because of His resurrection, He daily offers you a fresh new start.
May 2018 be the year you learn to Pause and breathe, greet life with a smile, open your eyes to see from a fresh perspective, begin a gratitude journal, and enjoy a natural fragrant scent.
My friend, these simple acts of self-care will make you will feel better and make your brain healthier. So Pause! And appreciate your many blessings.
“That you may be rooted and built up in Jesus, strengthened in the faith, as you have been taught, and overflowing with gratitude.” (Col 2:7)