Lemon ice cream and a bubble bath

by Constanze Bohg

That sounds a bit weird, doesn’t it? What does lemon ice cream have in common with a bubble bath? A lot, if you ask me.

Almost every day this week I tried to write the next blog post. But my text just wouldn’t sound right and I kept editing and editing. What a battle! Last night I decided to put the original topic on hold. Because a completely other theme was dancing around in my head. Something to do with happiness and ease. Let’s go.

Just be mindful

It’s my heart’s desire to share and hand over some of this ease that I’ve been able to discover and add to my life. More or less, we’re all driven and so goal-oriented. Today’s rhythm seems to be a merciless drum of “faster, higher, stronger”. We’re a society of achieving more, buying more, wanting more. All the time. I don’t know how you feel about it but I know what it does to me. It wears me out and leaves me exhausted and tired.

“There’s more to life than increasing its speed.”

Mahatma Gandhi

And still, up to a certain point I was all for it! If you had seen me before 2010, oh boy. I was the perfect example for the “rat race”, “anything goes”, “go with the flow” – girl. Until suddenly it was over and I was forced to reevaluate my life (read more here). So, for the last ten years I’ve changed course and for the sake of my health and my family’s sanity have adjusted. Whether it is the usage of media or my career path, whether it is mindfulness in regards to the environment or how I see my own body (#ihaveembraced). Because everything comes at a price, right? You can’t have it all. And do you really need it anyway?

Just because

Of course, one major topic over the last ten years for me has been self-care. So today we’ll dive into part three of this wonderful journey (you can read part 1 here and part 2 here). Apropos diving – that’s where the bath tub comes back into the picture. Because for me a hot bath is the perfect example for self-care. If you ask a good friend of mine, she’ll only roll her eyes. She’d always prefer a long shower over soaking in a tub. What I want to transport today is this: Find things and activities that refill your tank. Things you love to do just because.

Photo by Toimetaja tõlkebüroo on Unsplash

Now there’s a huge difference between self-care and self-improvement. Don’t get me wrong – I strive for excellence every single day. And I love it. But when I get to the point that every activity feels draining or like a chore something’s off. I want to live life with joy and ease. That’s what Jesus promised you and me, remember? He said in Matthew 11:30 that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (BTW I love how this song captures it all).

Just quit it

For the record: The following list is far from being complete! And that’s not my goal anyway. I want to inspire you today to create your own list of happiness moments.

No matter if you’re a CEO or SAHM, a student or a grandma – if you’re wired like me just the slightest way you’ve got a full schedule. You feel like you’re running all day and when the sun sets you’re depleted and ready for bed.

I’ve heard a wise man say that this is not healthy. And I know one thing about myself. If I don’t practice self-care on a regular basis I eventually burn out. If I don’t take a break here and there I’ll be grumpy and grouchy and start yelling at the poor kids. Good bye to happiness and ease. I don’t want that. So I have to quit this pattern of driving myself to utter exhaustion every day. Let’s kick guilt and shame in the butt and tell ourselves that we deserve to flourish and thrive. It’s not cool or fancy to be stressed out and tired all the time.

Just do it

I hope by now you’re warmed up and ready to grab pen and paper. Below is an excerpt of my list of self-care ideas. It may be and likely will be very different from yours. Remember, I’m only here to inspire and jumpstart you.

If you have 5 minutes to yourself:

  • Go outside and look at the sky. Breathe.
  • Wash your face and put on a nice lotion.
  • Look at your calendar and reserve one hour of “me time” within the next week.
  • Write down 5 things you’re thankful for right now.
  • Close your eyes and imagine you’re in the mountains or at the beach.
  • Say a prayer.
  • Read Psalms 23 out loud and read it slowly.
  • Lie on the floor and breathe in and out. Take your time. Close your eyes.
  • Light a candle and watch its flame.
  • Call someone you care about and say “I love you”.
  • Grab a coffee or tea and drink it while it’s still hot (with mobile devices shut off).
  • Write on a piece of paper everything that comes to mind. Not a to-do list though. Just emptying the head.
  • Listen to your favourite song really loud and dance.
Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

If you have 30 minutes to yourself:

  • Start your own list of self-care ideas.
  • Grab the book you’ve been wanting to start/finish and read.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Try a new recipe. How about lemon ice-cream?
  • Lie down with your favorite blanket and simply rest (maybe set an alarm, just in case).
  • Think of a loved one and write him/her a postcard.
  • Eat a snack. Take your time, sit at the table and chew slowly.
  • Enjoy a foot bath, preferably with essential oils in it.
  • Take a shower.
  • Go for a run.
  • Wear an outfit that makes you feel good even if you are not going out.
  • Listen to the latest episode of your favourite podcast.
  • Listen to some classical music while doing nothing else.
  • Try Pilates. Stretch your body.
  • Give yourself a spa moment with one of those face masks.
  • Write “thankful” on a piece of paper and then list 10 things you are thankful for.
  • Browse through a magazine.
  • Write “done” on a piece of paper and list everything you have already accomplished today.
  • Get those arts and crafts materials out and paint a picture.
Photo by Andrian Valeanu on Unsplash

If you have 1 or 2 hours to yourself:

  • Make an appointment for a facial treatment or massage.
  • Watch your favourite movie.
  • Take a long nice bubble bath, candles and calm music included.
  • Read your favourite novel.
  • Go to bed and take a long nap.
  • Listen to an audiobook.
  • Declutter a small area in your home.
  • Turn off all electronic devices.
  • Dedicate the time to a hobby that has been neglected (painting/sewing/baking/singing/ …)
  • Take a long walk and bring home a treasure from nature.
  • Look at old photos.
  • Go to the library or bookstore. Sit in a comfy chair and read.
  • Chat with a loved one on the phone.
  • Go to your favourite boutique/craft shop and treat yourself to a little something.
  • Arrange a hair appointment.
  • Buy yourself a nice bouquet of flowers.
Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

If you have half a day or even longer to yourself:

  • Visit a friend you have not seen for a long time.
  • Go to the mountains/beach and spend the day.
  • Plan an extended hike with a stop at a beautiful restaurant.
  • Spend the day in pyjamas and watch funny movies. With popcorn.
  • Go for a drive—no destination required.
  • Visit an exhibition.
  • Go to the movies and watch several films in a row.
  • Plan a holiday or a weekend breakaway, just for yourself.
  • Sit in a café and watch people.
  • Go shopping.
  • Dare to do something you’ve wanted to do for a long time (dance class/bungee jumping/ …)
Photo by Holly Mandarich on Unsplash

When I first wrote my “happiness” list about a year ago, it had the following headline:

Things I do simply because they make me happy.

Perhaps I should mention that I sat in front of that blank sheet of paper for more than five minutes. I couldn’t think of anything! It took me quite a long time before I allowed myself to write something down. Something that would only be mentioned to do me good.

After a while I wrote down the first idea, then the next. Until I realised that one thing after the other was finding its way unto the paper. I was full of ideas that had been tucked away and were waiting to be seen and recognised.

Just now as I’m done writing all the above stated ideas I get so excited again! It’s the same feeling I had when writing the list for the first time. Within half an hour I had filled two pages. I was surprised. And I was happy! Just going over all these ideas relaxed me and put me at ease. Isn’t that what self-care is all about?

So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and try it yourself. And then go and and practice self-care. Everyone has got five minutes. Come on!

“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”

Oscar Wilde

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