Each year on the morning of February 2nd, infamous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil is taken from his burrow and exposed to the light of day. Legend has it that if Phil doesn’t see his shadow, spring weather will come a few weeks early. This year’s Groundhog Day took place on Tuesday and Phil did see his shadow, which unfortunately means six more weeks of winter storms and cold weather. If there’s any year that we needed things to lighten up -- literally -- it was this one.
After months of freezing weather forcing us inside and continued pandemic protocols isolating us for long stretches of time, another six weeks of winter might seem unbearable. How are we supposed to keep living like this? For those struggling to keep their spirits up, self-care activities might be a breath of fresh air.
Self-care is anything you do to maintain and improve your mental, physical, and emotional health, and encompasses a wide variety of activities -- from daily tasks like showering and brushing your teeth to more targeted efforts like meditating and journaling. Self-caring activities are essential in order to live a balanced life, but can be seen as unimportant compared to one’s professional, financial, and social responsibilities.
Self-care starts with basic lifestyle changes that form the foundation of a calmer, happier day-to-day experience. The simplest adjustments to make are often the hardest: getting regular, adequate sleep, exercising multiple times per week, and eating nutritious meals. Forget the bath bombs and facial scrubs -- improving the underlying elements of your life will prove much more effective over time.
If you’ve got your essential practices under control but still feel depressed or lethargic, spend more of your remaining hours on hobbies that make you feel good and reduce your stress level. Creative pursuits like painting and writing can be very effective in slowing down the flow of consciousness and promoting positive feelings in the brain. If you’re ready to go a bit deeper, a powerful form of self-care is seated meditation, which can greatly improve focus and connection with the external world if practiced regularly.