And for most of us, when we need to create more time to get things done, the first thing we sacrifice is our self-care, whether it’s cancelling that yoga class, eating fast food or losing valuable hours of sleep. But this lack of self-care can take a serious toll on our physical, emotional and mental well-being, so maybe it’s time to reconsider our priorities.
Here’s the problem with self-care: people assume the notion is founded on selfishness. But the reality is that it’s essential to our relationships with others. We can care better for others if we take care of ourselves emotionally, physically and mentally. Whether it’s being more productive for your co-workers, being more patient and caring towards your children, or being a better listener to your friends, self-care allows you to enrich the lives of the people closest to you. And before you start to refute all of this with your laundry list of responsibilities that absolutely must be taken care of, let us just say, we get it. Life has a lot of responsibilities. But taking care of yourself is one of them.
Let us start by saying that self-care looks different for everyone. That morning jog may not bring happiness for everyone, and that’s okay. Find what works best for you. The important part is keeping that promise to yourself, no matter what it may be. To get you started, here are some simple self-care habits you can try.
Exercise: It’s difficult to ignore the mind-body connection. When your body is healthy, your mood soars and when you’re in a positive emotional state, it shows in how you move your body. So whether it’s taking a run, going to a cross fit class, doing yoga, or simply just getting up and walking, try to get at least 20 minutes of exercise in per day. You’ll get the endorphins flowing and you’ll look and feel better.
Meditate or Breathe: Taking a few minutes each day, especially in the morning, to practice meditation or breathing exercise can help you stay focused and relaxed. Meditation often scares most people, but it’s not as difficult as it seems. If you’re new to meditation, try apps such as Headspace to get you started. Connecting with yourself and focusing on your breathing can make a huge difference in your day.
Take Breaks: We all like to feel productive, so we try to cram in hours of work at a time. But this isn’t healthy and actually can make productivity worse. So if you find yourself chugging away at your laptop for hours or running around like crazy doing errands or chores, take a few minutes to stop and regroup. Go for a walk, call your mom, grab a cup of coffee or tea. Whatever it is that helps you unwind. And we promise you’ll feel better when you get back to what you were doing. And while taking small breaks throughout the day is important, taking larger breaks, such as vacations, is equally as important. Some of us feel guilty about taking vacations, but these are necessary escapes from everyday life. Time to recharge, spend time with those you love (or completely by yourself!) and come back refreshed!
Choose Who You Spend Time With: I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but you’re the average of the five people that you spend the most time with. You are greatly influenced by those around you and these are the people who shape who you are. They determine what types of conversations dominate your mind and affect which thoughts dictate your actions. Eventually, you begin to think and behave like them. So surround yourself with people who value self-care and lift you up and don’t be afraid to let go of those who don’t.
Eat Green Daily: Eating healthy, and especially incorporating vegetables into your diet, allows you to feel more energetic and strong. Food is fuel for your body, and you should pay close attention to what type of fuel you are using. Not only does it have a direct effect on your mood and energy level, but the food you eat also determines the quality and length of your life. So make a determined effort to incorporate greens into your diet each day.
Avoid Emotional Eating: Whether we’re stressed, angry, or sad, we all know that familiar urge to indulge in some emotional eating. But this type of behavior can actually make us feel worse and can lead to unhealthy habits. Instead of eating, go for a walk, talk to a friend, or engage in your favorite hobby. And if you really can’t resist that urge to eat, opt for some greens instead, as recommended above!
Start a Journal: Writing in a journal helps you to come to terms with your emotions. You can set goals and intentions, explore your feelings, and express gratitude. And don’t be judgmental with yourself – feel free to jot down whatever is on your mind. After all, you’re the only one who will be reading it. We truly believe this is one of the most powerful ways to practice self-care. Incorporating this into your everyday routine can leave you feeling calm and centered.
Create a Work-Life Balance: Many of us suffer from an unhealthy work-life balance. In today’s culture, overworking is seen as normal, and is often encouraged or applauded. But work-related stress can make you less productive, disorganized and emotionally depleted, leading to a host of health problems. Be committed to maintaining a balance and setting professional boundaries – take certain days or hours without any work distractions, put away the phone and email when you’re with your family and friends and try not to bring work stress home.
Learn to Say “No”: For most of us, this is by far the most challenging self-care habit. We’re so accustomed to saying “yes” every time someone asks us for a favor or asks us to work those extra hours. But we all need to say “no” to give us time to recharge. This will allow us to return to our regular routines with greater energy and productivity. And when you say “yes”, make sure you are only agreeing to activities or requests that align with your values or bring your happiness. Remember, saying “yes” to something else is saying “no” to yourself.
Create a Morning Routine: Instead of hitting snooze or browsing social media in the morning, try to incorporate a morning routine focused on self-care. Whether it be finding a few minutes to reflect and express gratitude, visualizing the day ahead and focusing on the goals you want to achieve, or incorporating a healthy meal and a workout, pick an activity and stay consistent with your routine. This will help you get off to a good start and stay on track during the day.
It’s easy to say, “I’ll start tomorrow”, but now is the best time to start taking care of yourself. Now that you have some simple ways to incorporate self-care habits into your everyday life, take control of your health and happiness. Commit to a day of self-care! We promise you it will be time worth spending.