Starting off 2021 with Self Care

Caroline Davis, Copy Editor

2020 was a difficult year for everyone across the United States. 2021 is hopefully the fresh start everyone needs to move on and look after themselves, especially through practicing self-care. 

Self-care is important to maintain strength, motivation, and focus, especially at the start of a new semester. One of the best self-care methods recommended by therapists, self-care specialists and Minnetonka’s own health teachers is mindfulness. 

Mindfulness is a hard concept to practice as it requires internal insight and attention to one’s own thoughts and actions. Mindfulness is defined as a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations; it is often used as a therapeutic technique. 

Amber Tucker, an editor for the Mindful newspaper said, “ Our mind takes flight, we lose touch with our body, and pretty soon we’re engrossed in obsessive thoughts about something that just happened or fretting about the future. And that makes us anxious.” 

Some easy ways to practice mindfulness can be to meditate, journal, or do breathing exercises; the three actually go hand in hand. 

Meditation is not as intimidating as it seems. Finding some quiet time to sit or lay comfortably to think and breathe can ground a person and help to organize their thoughts and feelings. Journaling can also help create a physical, tangible outlet to release thoughts and emotions. Seeing ideas written down can allow one to process what they might be feeling. There are tons of YouTube videos that teach breathing exercises and meditation (and provide peaceful background music) to help people work toward their mindfulness goals. 

Another easy way to be mindful is to spend some time exercising. Working out or simply raising one’s heart rate and doing some stretches allows the body to release happy chemicals in the brain and keep the body functioning properly. If a person doesn’t enjoy organized sports, doing a simple yoga routine in the living room has the same benefits as running around a football field. Amazing yoga routine videos can also be found for free on YouTube. 

The active decision to work out alone is helpful to one’s body. 

Minnetonka student Angelica Ginzberg, ‘22, said “ Working out is my everyday release that I can spend time thinking about my life and do something good for my body.” 

Not only can working out increase mindfulness, but everyday activities like hygiene can fit into that practice, too. Good hygiene contributes a lot to one’s mental state and comfort in everyday life. Everybody knows to wash your hands after going to the bathroom and brush their teeth twice a day, but adding small mindful things such as eucalyptus to one’s shower routine or a face mask after washing one’s face can increase focus and comfort.  

To pay attention to and intently live each day allows one to process and be in control of their actions and emotions. The ultimate form of self-care is to take care of oneself with only themselves in mind.