No one can take better care of you than you. By making your health and well-being a top priority, there’s a very good chance your quality of life will increase dramatically. With that said, here are the most effective self-care practices to try:
Get a hobby
Playing an instrument, solving crossword puzzles, and exercise are just a few hobbies that can relieve stress, keep the mind sharp and provide an escape from reality.
I personally found that gardening was a great way of inexpensively channeling my energy into something positive. I especially love growing plants from seeds or even food scraps, the sense of accomplishment and achievement is wonderful.
Many of the fast foods and ready-made meals we consume are high in sugar, fat and artificial preservatives. Eating too much of these foods can be hazardous to your health. Instead of eating fast food, cook at home. The meals will be healthier and cheaper.
I love to meal plan and prep on a Sunday afternoon, a trip to the local fresh markets can be nice to get outside and get some exercise in, and then ensure I have all that is needed for healthy meals for the week. I do a big cook up of a delicious chicken (with ashwagandha & turmeric) super food soup for lunches and a few hearty dinners & then relax for the evening.
Take a walk outside
It is estimated that over a billion people worldwide are vitamin D deficient. Fatigue, depression, brittle bones and frequent colds are just a few symptoms of vitamin D deficiency. Walking outdoors for 15 minutes per day is a great way to get this vital nutrient, as well as decrease stress levels.
Also increasing your ‘incidental exercise’ by taking the stairs instead of a lift, or parking a bit further away from the shops can be small efforts that aid in more activity to increase your endorphins.
Decrease exposure to negative people
A person who is always complaining or has a negative disposition can be emotionally draining. Limiting the time spent with these types can do wonders for your mental health.
Take stock of the friends, colleagues and even family that you are spending time with, when you are no longer in their company take 5 minutes and think about how you feel. Did they leave you feeling happy, full or energy or invigorated? Or did you feel down, drained or frustrated? Did you feel like you were listened to? Or were you just there for them to vent their thoughts and feelings? If the answer is the latter, spend more of your time with other people in your life who listen to and respect you.
Turn off the news
The majority of the leading news stories are negative. Bad news oftentimes gets the most attention, but it can also be toxic. In this case, less is definitely better.
I did this about 7 years ago and honestly I couldn’t be happier for it. Sure, sometimes you aren’t the first to know everything, but unless it is important for your job, ditch mainstream media and read blogs and writers whose content you love! (Like mine :D)
Take a break from social media
Studies on social media have linked it to increased levels of anxiety, envy, depression and loneliness. Researchers also note decreased social skills as well. Log off and connect with yourself (and the world around you).
If you struggle to disconnect completely (which I do!) I found turning off your notifications can really help. I found I used to get ‘message fatigue’ where people would use every single type of social platform to chat with me.
If you make it clear to those close to you that you are going to be turning off your social notifications and for anything important to text you, then you are less inclined to constantly get sucked into socials. Check Facebook and Instagram and the rest once or twice a day and use the rest of your time for things you love!
Get adequate rest
Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to weight gain, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, depression and decreased sex drive. How many people are taking medication for something that could be caused by lack of sleep? Taking a nap is another option: a 20-30 minute cat nap is a great way to refresh and rejuvenate the body.
If you struggle getting to sleep or staying asleep, and don’t want to use harsh chemicals, I swear by our sleep tea Vivi-Sleep as it is all natural, organic and ethically sourced. Brew a cup an hour before bed and you’ll be feeling sleepy and cuddly in no time.
Learn to say “no.”
Trying to be everything and do everything can be taxing both mentally and physically. It can also rob you of your precious “me-time.” Saying no from time to time helps you regain control of your life, as well as earn the respect of those around you: say no a couple times and people will realize they can’t walk over you or take your kindness for granted.
This did not come naturally to me, a former people pleaser – so may not come easy to you. It may seem like you are doing the right thing by everyone, but you really aren’t. Putting yourself first is never something you should feel guilty about.
Clear your schedule
In addition to saying no to others, give yourself time to relax. Always being on the go can prevent you from living in the moment and having a little time to yourself.
Given I run 4 businesses, have a relationship to nurture as well as my family and friends, shit gets hard to juggle! Balance for me is ensuring every Sunday is my day, not committed to friends or family, not committed to work. Just me. For gardening, for creating art, reading, planning, whatever.
Invest in a few houseplants
According to the EPA, indoor air quality can be up to 5 times worse than outdoor air. This is especially concerning in office buildings, where windows are sealed and can’t be opened. Pesticides, carpets, and cleaning supplies all contain toxic chemicals. One way to improve indoor air quality is by investing in house plants. Formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene and carbon monoxide are just a few of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that plants remove from the air.
I have in excess of 20 house plants, so maybe don’t go as extreme as me – however I love the energy and atmosphere plants bring to a home.
Stand up and stretch
As a society, we sit too much. All the sitting on our couch, at the office or in our vehicles during rush hour traffic is hazardous to our health. Too much sitting increases the risk of muscle imbalances, poor circulation, high blood pressure, strokes, weight gain and a host of other health issues. Walking and stretching are great ways to decrease the risk of having these ailments, as well as help keep the body loose and flexible.
I take breaks every 90 mins at my desk to re-fill my water bottle (I make a point of having it empty every 90 mins so I can keep up my water intake) wander outside on my terrace and take in some fresh air and just take 5 mins to reset before tackling another 90 mins of work.
Repeat positive affirmations
Repeat positive affirmations every morning:
- “Today will be a great day!”
- “I am successful!”
- “I can do anything!”
This is a great way to prepare yourself mentally for the day’s challenges.
Remind yourself what you’re thankful for
It’s easy to focus on what we don’t have, but it’s also good to pause and give thanks for what you do have: health, a roof over your head, a job, etc. Every day, remind yourself of what you have and give thanks for it.
Embark on an exciting new project or adventure. Setting goals will give you something to look forward to, and accomplishing them is a great way to boost self-esteem.
I find writing my goals down can be really useful. I have a goal journal I use which helps me to focus on 3 goals for the quarter and breaking them down into weekly and daily actions. I also use an app called Fabulous which sends me reminders for my daily routines.
Laughter is good for the soul. Laughter releases serotonin, the feel good chemical. It’s also a great way to relieve stress and ease pain.
This is just a small sample of the many ways to practice self-care. Find several types that appeal to you and perform them daily. Your body will thank you.
If you have any self-care suggestions please feel free to leave them in the comments to help others who may like them too.