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Self-care is not an indulgence. It’s a necessity that should be woven into your life each and every day for whole health. Self-care doesn’t have to be a day at the spa or a whole weekend getaway to be beneficial. In fact, there are simple things you can do that will help you take an important mental pause to nurture your body, mind and spirit.
What Is Self-Care?
Anytime you choose to do something that nurtures your well-being (physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually), you’re practicing self-care. It doesn’t matter how big or small the activity may be. And it also doesn’t matter if anyone else would find it to be nurturing as well. All that matters is that it nourishes you. At the core, self-care is about valuing and respecting yourself and your unique needs.
Ideas for Self-Care
Give these suggestions a try. If they make your day feel a little better, you’re on the right path. If they leave you feeling more stressed or depleted, keep searching for what nourishes and fulfills you.
Get Enough Sleep
It’s hard to feel good when you’re tired. Sometimes you may feel like you need to stay up late in order to get things done, or even because you think that giving yourself that extra hour of TV time qualifies as self-care. But is it really the kindest thing you can do for yourself? Sleep deprivation has serious effects on your mood, energy and ability to think clearly. Getting a full seven to eight hours of sleep a night is a simple way to drastically improve how you feel all day long.
Eat Nutritiously and Exercise
This one’s tricky because it can sound more like a chore than a pleasure. The key is to not deprive yourself of food or be extreme with exercise, but to truly care for your body. As far as food goes, enjoy it. But choose the foods that make you feel good; not just the ones that are tempting treats with immediate pleasure. As far as exercise goes, find something you enjoy. Regular activity has been shown to raise energy levels, improve mood, boost self-confidence and so much more to improve your whole health.
Make Yourself a Priority
With all the responsibilities that come with being an adult — especially if you’re a parent — it’s sometimes hard to find time for yourself. There’s a deadline at work. The kids need help with homework. The dog needs to go to the vet. The car needs an oil change. It seems like every time you turn around, someone else needs you. But it’s important to remember that you’re human, and humans require maintenance. If you don’t take care of your body, it will deteriorate. If you don’t refill your reserve of patience, you won’t have patience to give.
Connect with Others
Spending time with loved ones is vital to your well-being. Social connection can reduce anxiety and depression, boost the function of your immune system and even help you live longer. In fact, a lack of connection can negatively impact your health more than smoking, obesity or high blood pressure. Connecting online is better than nothing, but it’s even better to talk on the phone or meet up with someone that you care about in person.
Do Something You Enjoy Every Day
What brings you joy? Is it reading a few pages of a book? Sipping a hot cup of tea? Going dancing with friends? Cleaning out your closet? It doesn’t have to make sense to anybody else. If it makes you feel good, it qualifies. Sometimes it can be something as simple as taking a hot shower. However, you can’t just do it while your mind is racing through your laundry list of things to do. The key word here is in “enjoy,” which means you need to pause and immerse yourself in the experience or activity.
Incorporating self-care into your daily routine can help reduce stress, anxiety and even bring you more mental and emotional clarity. But, if you’re finding yourself feeling more serious symptoms of mental illness, never delay in reaching out to a qualified medical professional for help. And know that you always have our support, too.