It’s easy to put taking care of yourself on the back burner. From family and work responsibilities to everyday demands, self-care can seem like a luxury or even selfish. But taking better care of your mind and body gives you the tools you need to handle life’s stresses. Eating right, reducing stress, exercising regularly and taking a time-out when you need it are touchstones of self-care that help keep you healthy, fit and balanced.
Why Self-Care Matters
Self-care Helps You Realize Your Worth
Self-care is important for developing and maintaining a healthy relationship with yourself. It produces positive feelings and boosts your confidence and strengthens your self-esteem. Self-care emphasizes to you and others that your needs are important which leads to a greater sense of self-worth.
Self-care Helps You Balance Different Areas of Your Life
Working yourself too hard leads to stress and exhaustion that makes you less productive, disorganized and emotionally depleted. The results can mean that personal and family relationships are neglected and feel unfulfilling. Habits like intermittent breaks for lunch or rest, setting professional boundaries and spending time nurturing your personal relationships all help you stay balanced and healthy.
Self-care Helps You Manage Stress
While stress can give us the nudge we need to meet deadlines or finish overdue tasks, constant stress can harm your mental and physical health. Smart habits like eating healthy, connecting with loved ones and giving your mind a break reduces the effects of stress, improves your mood and ultimately raises your level of confidence.
Make Self-Care a Part of Your Normal Routine for Better Well-Being
1. Create healthy sleeping habits.
Sleep can have a major impact on how you feel both mentally and physically. Stress and distractions can lead to insufficient rest and even insomnia that can cause serious physical and mental health issues. Look at your normal routines such as consuming sugar or caffeine too close to bedtime, going to bed too late and more to see where you can improve.
Your sleeping area should be free of distractions like your TV, laptop, cellphone and anything else distracting. Your goal is to create a sleeping oasis that is uncluttered and peaceful, so you can get a good night’s sleep. If you don’t already have them, invest in room-darkening curtains to keep your bedroom dark and prevent the sun from waking you up too early.
2. Exercise daily as part of your self-care routine.
Daily exercise contributes to your mental and physical health in so many positive ways. From boosting your mood over reducing stress and anxiety to helping you sleep better and shedding extra weight, daily exercise is one of the best self-care routines around. Getting to the gym every day may not be practical, but it’s easy to get some exercise if you put forth the effort.
Walking, biking and other exercises can be enjoyable. Try to fit in at least 20 minutes of cardio per day to get your heart pumping and allowing your brain to create healthy doses of endorphins. Whether you exercise before work, at lunch or after work, finding 20 minutes per day to strengthen your mental and physical health will have a positive impact on your life.
3. Make healthy eating a priority for self-care.
The food we eat can keep us healthy and alert or contribute to weight gain, depression and physical illnesses. A healthy diet can help prevent short-term memory loss, minimize inflammation and positively impact our health. Healthy and beneficial foods include fish, berries and fruit, nuts, vegetables and other natural foods.
If you focus on making small changes in your eating habits like substituting healthy alternatives for unhealthy foods, you can create a beneficial habit over time. One of the best ways to change your eating habits is to skip eating out and prepare more meals at home. Not only can you control what and how much you’re eating, you’ll also enjoy the pleasure of creating meals.
4. Take care of yourself by getting organized.
Getting organized is a great first step to feeling more content and less stressed out. Cleaning and decluttering your work and home spaces comes with a range of positive benefits. The act of cleaning can help reduce anxiety and an uncluttered space often helps create an uncluttered mind.
Creating a calendar or checklist of things you need to do can also help create a calmer mind and less anxiety. From keeping track of personal and professional events to reminding yourself to take time for self-care, a written game plan can do a lot to keep your life manageable.
5. Take a self-care break by getting outside.
Spending time outside helps reduce stress, lower blood pressure and gives your lungs a good dose of fresh air. Research shows that getting outside can also boost your immune system, enhance creativity and mitigate pain. There’s just something about being in nature that melts away everyday stress and puts things in perspective.
Get outside for hiking, walking, paddling or any other activity you enjoy and enjoy the additional benefits of exercise. Better yet, enjoy your outdoor experiences with people you care about to share the self-care benefits and enjoy closer relationships.
6. Pack your bags for a self-care trip.
Taking even a brief trip can be the perfect solution to relieve built-up stress, spark your focus and eliminate boredom from monotony. Even if you’re not feeling particularly stressed, getting away for a day-trip or weekend now and then can help you disconnect, relax and rejuvenate.
These self-care trips don’t have to be elaborate or costly—a drive along a scenic byway or an overnighter in a nearby location can often be enough to put things in perspective. Remember to keep your trip simple. Say goodbye to schedules and other demands for the greatest benefit during your dedicated self-care time.
7. Pets are perfect for helping you with self-care.
Pets hold a special place in our lives and are often considered to be part of the family. From unconditional love to companionship, pets contribute to our well-being and are an important part of self-care. Dogs especially can help reduce stress and feelings of anxiety, minimize loneliness and even help lower blood pressure.
The rise in popularity of service and therapy dogs for PTSD, anxiety and other disorders is attributed to all the benefits pets can bring to our lives. Cats, birds and even reptiles can provide many benefits too. So, even if you aren’t a “dog person,” you can still enjoy the support they provide.
8. Say “no” more often and say “yes” to self-care.
Learning to say “no” can be difficult because many of us feel obligated to say “yes” when someone asks for our time or energy. But if you’re already stressed out or overworked, saying “yes” to loved ones or coworkers can lead to burnout, anxiety and resentment. It will take some practice and commitment, but once you learn how to say “no” more often, you’ll start to feel more empowered and have more time for yourself.
9. Keep A Journal
Writing down your thoughts, concerns and experiences is a wonderful way to declutter your mind. It’s the perfect opportunity to let your mind run free and express your feelings of fear, frustration, joy and hope. Journaling can bring insight to stressful situations and help you deal with the demands of daily life by letting your purge your feelings on paper or in your computer.
Three to four days a week for 20 minutes is plenty of time to help you realize the benefits of journaling. Whether you journal “free style” in the mornings to get your juices flowing or journal about specific topics after work, the key is to not censor yourself and let everything come out freely.
10. Listen To Music or an Audio Book
Get lost in the beat and lip sync your favorite lyrics for a quick mood changer or relaxing mental getaway. We all have our favorite songs and genres that make us feel more upbeat and energized. Tuning in to our favorite music helps us tune out the things that are bothering us for a brief self-care break. Another great way to occupy your mind for a while is to listen to audio books. Whether you choose your favorite fiction author, books about self-help or invest time into developing new skills, you can give yourself a mental break with some entertainment or education.
Self-care helps you function better both personally and professionally. When taking care of yourself becomes a part of your daily routine, you will enjoy better mental and physical health, stronger relationships and a more consistent feeling of well-being. Scheduling a cleaning service with The Maids could be a good first step for helping you clean up, declutter and find time for more self-care.