As the holiday season approaches, it’s easy to become so consumed by our to-do lists (on top of to-do lists) that we let our own well-being fall to the wayside. The holidays are supposed to be enjoyable, right? It often doesn’t feel that way.
We talk about self-care and we see aesthetically pleasing, picture-perfect versions on social media of what it’s allegedly supposed to look like. Often, the pressure to engage in self-care simply makes it another item on our to-do list instead of a meaningful, intentional, elevating experience.
Let’s talk the pressure off of self-care.
Here are a few ways to incorporate micro-moments of tranquility and rejuvenation into your daily life in small but meaningful ways.
When we move our bodies in pleasurable ways, we activate endorphins—happy hormones! This could be walking, dancing, stretching, swimming, playing pickleball, cycling, or other activities that make you happy. Purposeful movement also has many other benefits such as increasing your heart rate and circulation, engaging core muscle groups, and preventing you from staying sedentary. When I teamed up with Zumba Fitness instructors in 66 cities around the world with my nonprofit Soaringwords to lead free monthly classes for hospitalized children, their families, and the healthcare professionals who cared for them, the results were unanimous. When people experience joyful movement it has a positive impact on their physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Move it or lose it baby!
Achieve a FLOW state
Consider a time when you were so involved in an activity that nothing else seemed to matter. You were in what Positive Psychologist Mihaly Csikzentmihyl called a flow state when “the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it, even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.” Whether it be singing, listening to your favorite music, engaging with a daily crossword puzzle or brain teaser, or simply walking your dog around the block, micro-moments of flow energize us as we become one with the activity. When we enter into a flow state there’s simply no room for us to hold onto stress from paying bills, doing chores, or focusing on looming deadlines. Connecting with flow is a powerful energy infusion that only takes moments to achieve, yet has a lasting impact.
Laughter is the best medicine
When we laugh, it sends oxygen to our lungs, to be disbursed through the heart to the rest of the body. It also boosts endorphins, the happy hormones that feel oh-so-good, so that we experience a positive elevation in our mood. This helps minimize physical aches and pains. Just a few minutes of hearty laughter can generate positive physical, emotional, and mental well-being for several hours. Like any muscle, the more you strengthen your laughter response, the stronger it gets. By making this a daily practice, you will start noticing and appreciating more laughter in your daily life.
Isolation is a predominant feeling people experience when going through a setback, trauma, or illness. Because the opposite of isolation is connection, reaching out to engage with another person in a meaningful, altruistic way is a key antidote to boosting well-being, resilience, and hope during difficult times. At Soaringwords’ workshops, we always end the program with a pay-it-forward project because doing something altruistic is a proven way to elevate one’s positive emotions. Whether making artwork to donate to a hospitalized child, delivering a meal to a homebound person, or helping someone with packages at the supermarket, these altruistic actions connect us to empathy, kindness, creativity, and humility. Feeling a sense of common humanity with others minimizes feelings of hopelessness and despair.
Share a High Quality Connection
When we reach out to a friend, family member, or stranger on the street, it makes us feel connected to the best parts of ourselves and to others. Positive Psychologist Dr. Jane Dutton talks about High Quality Connections (HQCs), which are brief, reciprocal moments of connection with another person. They often take only a moment to experience, but result in significant elevation that makes us feel more open, competent, and alive. Whether you make a phone call just to say hello, share a kind word with a neighbor, or exchange smiles and warmth with a stranger on the sidewalk, you’ll soon discover how these micro-interventions are generative for the giver and the recipient.