How to Engage in Micro Self-Care

Last week I wrote about macro self-care – doing something “big” for yourself as a way to recharge. These things are important, but also a little harder to do, especially for Spoonies/Warriors. The other side of macro self-care is micro self-care. These are little moments you can spread throughout your day in order to get that oh-so-important self-care in. Micro self-care can take as little as a few seconds, up to several minutes. Not only is micro self-care easier (and less expensive) to engage in, it can be done on various energy levels (so important for anyone with chronic pain and illness, as you all know) and it has more benefits than macro because of the frequency of it.

Spending even 5 minutes outside is a great self-care practice.

If you Google “micro self-care” you will literally see hundreds of different ideas for what you can do. Here are a few of my favourites:

  1. Meditation or deep breathing (or grounding, and so on). You don’t need to sit and meditation for 20+ minutes. In fact to start it’s actually better to just do 3-5 minutes. And it’s something you can find time to do at any point in your day.
  2. Gratitude Practice – say out loud or write down 3-5 things you’re grateful for (it’s been shown to boost happiness)
  3. Journal – you don’t have to write down every thought or everything that’s happened. When I journal I often reflect on something specific (i.e., use a prompt) or look at my physical, intellectual, spiritual and/or emotional bodies and see if there’s anything to reflect on, limiting beliefs I can forgive myself for and/or something I’d like to work on today.
  4. Stretch – stretching is something most of us can do more of as it’s really good for our bodies. Take a few minutes to do a few stretches is a great way to care for your body.
  5. Do some sort of quick exercise – walk around the block (my favourite) or even just marching in place or do 5 minutes of some sort of strengths-based chair workout.
  6. Read – set a timer for 5 minutes and read (or just read a poem, or a set a page goal for a book – 5-10 pages for example).
  7. Go outside – even if it’s chilly out, spending a few minutes just being out in the fresh air is great for our bodies and minds.
  8. Drinks a glass of water or tea – we often under hydrate so water is always the best option. Alternatively I always feel good drinking some of my favourite tea.
  9. Make your bed – this seems silly and simple and yet I (who often doesn’t make my bed) feel so good when I make it (and also feel better when I get into a made bed at night… actually I’m going to make my bed now).
  10. Make plans with a friend – this doesn’t mean you actually have to go out with this friend at this moment but even just making the plans via text or phone call can make us feel good and give us something to look forward to.

These are just some ideas to get you started with micro self-care. There are many more that I do. Some of these daily, many of these within a day, and some of these less often. I know that the more I do, the better I feel (mentally and physically). What are your favourite micro self-care practices?

Keep making the most of it everyone!

How I Stay Healthy in the Summer

Love it or hate it, summer comes every year. I personally love the summer. I’ll take heat over cold any day (I grew up in Winnipeg which is hella cold). I find the heat takes a slightly less toll on my body than freezing temperatures. And though I live in Vancouver now, where winter has more rain than snow and extreme colds, the changes in the barometric pressure are never fun for my body either. All that said, I know a ton of people who prefer winter over summer, because they don’t like being hot and/or their illness symptoms worsen in the heat (which I’ll admit when it’s really hot, mine aren’t superb either). Even without illness, we need to prioritize staying healthy in the summer. And though summer is coming to an end, any time left does need us to consider a few things.

I’ll admit that I sometimes take off my hat before taking pictures (especially if I’m going to post them on Instagram).

The first thing I do is dress appropriately. I try to go for outfits that are cooling, regardless of whether I’m working or lazing about. Probably most importantly in how I dress for the summer is always having a hat on (ball cap or brimmed hat) while I’m outside and always having sunglasses. That way I can help prevent heat stroke, symptom flare ups, and my eye health. Also, it requires basically no effort to grab my hat and sunglasses when I go out. I’m always a little shocked when other people aren’t wearing them to be honest.

Second, I put on a lot of sunscreen – and reapply as needed. I typically use SPF50 on my face (it’s built into my moisturizer) and SPF30 on my body. I’d rather use “too much” (because that’s not actually a thing) than not enough. Not to mention skin cancer doesn’t sound fun, and I once read that being sun burnt even once in your life greatly increases your risk of melanoma.

Third, I stay hydrated. I always have a water bottle with me. I always make sure there is a bunch of ice in it as well (it’s also an insulated water bottle which helps). I drink a ton of water while working and even just in my apartment. Constantly drinking water because, well, we know that water has a ton of health benefits, plus dehydration is not going to help me feel physically or mentally well.

Fourth, I try to make sure my sleep is as good as possible. I don’t have A/C currently and it gets hot. So I keep windows open, fan on when necessary – even if that means I have to wear earplugs to bed. I have an east facing bedroom window, and while I do need to invest in some blackout blinds, I often wear a sleep mask to bed so that the light doesn’t wake me up. I also ditch most of the blankets and sleep under just a top sheet to try to keep my body temperature down.

Finally, I still get all my movement in. There is a tendency to want to avoid exercise due to heat (trust me, I know firsthand I’m less inspired to workout when it’s hot). I do still make it a priority. If I go for a walk, it’s earlier in the day or later in the day and I try to stick to the shade. My strength training routine is done with a fan blowing at me (though I’m tempted to invest in a gym membership again just to have a cool workout facility), and I do yoga (also with the fan blowing at me). And while I do vinyasa and yin, I find that yin can be a bit better in the heat because you hold poses longer.

So, that sums up how I stay healthy in the summer. What do you do?

Take care & keep making the most of it!

How to Stay Hydrated in the Summer

Okay, this might seem simple, but sometimes I forget to hydrate enough. Last year I was on an app that had us do a 30 day challenge, part of which was drinking 8 glasses of water a day. I honestly felt so great that whole punch (despite having to pee all the time). Unfortunately, I have not been able to keep up the habit. It’s not that I don’t want to or think it’s important, it’s that for some reason it’s a little harder than I thought it would be (this reminds me that I might do a post on habit forming in the future). What I have noticed for myself is that when I’m working, especially from home, I drink a lot of water. One glass per client, plus probably 2 extra on top of that. So on days where I have 4 clients, that ends up being at least 6 glasses of water. In the office, it’s close to the same, but perhaps a little less. The less I work, the less I drink water…

Always have that water bottle.

Except for when I go for a hike, walk, or to the beach. The summer is my favourite time of year. Yes there are some downsides to the weather being hot, but I do love outdoor activities. And I normally do pretty well at staying hydrated. I always bring a water bottle, though I’ll admit sometimes I should probably bring 2, and it’s always empty by the time I’ve returned home. I’m also always happy to get a glass of water at a restaurant, or buy a bottled water at a convenience store if I’ve run out and need more.

While water is 100% important for every human, I think it’s additionally important for Chronic Pain/Illness Warriors. Research suggests that staying hydrated can improve our joint health and functioning by increasing flexibility and lubrication within the joints (could’ve helped the Tin Man). It also has been shown to remove toxins in the body, and toxins are often the source of inflammation. Less inflammation = less pain. Added benefits are improved mood (because being dehydrated can make us angry, depressed and tense – I’ve definitely experience this before, have you?); and it can aid in weight loss, if you have that goal. We know that the mind and body are connected, so when we feel emotions like sadness, anger, and anxiety we tend to feel more pain. When we feel more pain we get into these states easier (so imagine being dehydrated as well).

Here are some ways I make sure I’m staying hydrated:

  1. I always have a full glass of water within arms reach. As soon as the glass is empty (or low) I fill it up, with some ice cubes and just carry it from room to room with me throughout the day.
  2. I bring a water bottle with me as often as possible. I take it to work, on walks, etc. Again, having it near means I’m more likely to drink it.
  3. I order a glass of water at the restaurant. Even if I’m also ordering another drink. Nothing else really hydrates us, so while I’m happy to have a beer or a soda or coffee, etc. that is really for the flavour, socializing experience, etc. I need to have water for the hydration.

Also, side note PSA, if you have a dog and you’re taking him or her for a walk, please, please bring one of those doggy water bottles for them. If you need to be hydrated, they do too!

Enjoy the rest of your summer and keep making the most of it!