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©2019 BY JUSTINE DOWD, PHD.

Fall into Self-Care

September 4, 2018

Welcome to FALL! Well, it is almost officially fall. I LOVE the fall. While I love something about all the seasons, as the summer months come to an end, there is something about autumn that I crave... Like the coziness of warm fall clothes and the delicious taste of everything pumpkin-spiced. (I love Against All Grain’s Pumpkin Spice Latte!)

As the days grow shorter, I embrace snuggling in at home, and spending quality time with my family – playing cards with my hubby by the fire – and enjoying downtime after a wonderful adventure-filled summer.
 
As we settle back into ‘real life’ routines, with back to school and work projects ramping up again, many of us find ourselves making plans for success in our new routines. Often these plans are centered around BALANCE! Work, life, family – we all have so many things we are always trying to balance. While it is hard to maintain a perfect balance in all of the things that are important to us, often the scale tips a bit too far in one direction depending on the day, week or month. So, an area I like to start with is self-care.
 
Before I had my son, I had a great routine of doing 5-25 minutes of yoga or meditation most mornings before I started my day. Having a baby certainly threw a wrench into that routine. So, I have been working on getting into a new routine. Now, as I officially head back to work after an 18-month maternity leave, this will again be a bit of an adjustment.

Research shows that the best time to get exercise (and my guess would be that these findings translate to ALL self-care practices) in is first thing in the morning – otherwise, other things (life!) can get in the way. When I start my day with even one minute of mindful breathing, I find that I am better able to cope with challenging situations thrown my way, as well as fully embrace the positive moments too!
 
As you mindfully plan your fall routine, I encourage you to...
1. Think about how you will integrate self-care (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual – whatever resonates with YOU) into your day.
2. Choose one or more self-care techniques that resonate for you.
3. SCHEDULE it into your daily plan, so you actually do it.

I love this article on the various types of self-care and well-being.
 
Self-care to you could mean:

  • Screen free time

  • Mindful eating

  • Yoga

  • Taking a mindful walk by yourself (even a 10-minute break during the day!)

  • Deep breathing or meditation 

  • Reading

When we practice self-care, we are kind to ourselves. A big part of my research focuses on how this and the bigger concept of self-compassion can help people struggling with different situations.

Want to learn more about self-care? Check out this post to get the all the key insights on a fascinating talk I attended by Dr. Kristin Neff, a leading expert on self-compassion. 

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