When you’re busy and overwhelmed, it’s easy to put yourself last. However, there’s no rule that says you must carry the weight of the world on your shoulders—in fact, in these moments, it’s important to take a step back, be kind to and take care of yourself.
Why Self-Care Matters
It’s so important to make sure you take good care of your body, mind, and soul every day, not just when you get sick. Learning how to eat right, reduce stress, exercise regularly, and take a time-out when you need it are touchstones of self-care and can help you stay healthy, happy, and mentally strong.
Why Do We Often Fail at Self-Care?
Practicing self-care isn’t always easy. Most of us are busy, place the need’s of our families first, have stressful jobs, or are too consumed with technology to make time for ourselves. Me-time is usually last on the agenda. Worse, we can sometimes feel guilty about taking the time required to take care of ourselves (parent guilt is a real thing). So getting started with self-care can be challenging.
How Do You Engage in Self-Care?
There are many things you can do to engage in self-care and self-care looks different for everyone. The goal is to figure out which self-care strategies work best for you, learn how to use these strategies, and implement them in your regular routine so you can boost your well-being not only today but forever.
Here are 18 ways to get started with your self-care.
1. Get enough sleep.
Sleep can have a huge effect on how you feel both emotionally and physically. Not getting enough can even cause major health issues. It seems simple enough and, yet, 40 percent of Americans get less than seven hours of sleep a night, according to a 2013 Gallup poll. Healthy adults should average seven to nine hours of shut-eye per night.
2. Move your body daily as part of your self-care routine.
Getting in at least 30 minutes of some kind of exercise—whether it’s a work out or just stroll outside—is just as good for your mental health as it is your physical. You don’t have to do it all at once either take three 10-minute strolls if you can’t do a full half hour. The most important thing is to create a routine that works for you.
3. Eat right for self-care.
The food we eat has the potential to either keep us healthy or contribute to weight gain, but it can also keep our minds working and alert. Some of the best self-care foods include fatty fish, blueberries, nuts, green leafy veggies, and broccoli.
4. Say no to others, and say yes to your self-care.
Learning to say no is really hard. Many of us feel obligated to say yes when someone asks for that dinner date. However, if you’re already stressed or overworked, saying yes to everyone can lead to burnout, anxiety, and irritability. It may take a little practice, but once you learn how to politely say no, you’ll start to feel more self-confident, and you’ll have more time for your self-care and prioritizing what matters.
5. Take a self-care break by getting outside.
Spending time outside can help you reduce stress, lower your blood pressure, and be more mindful. Studies have even shown that getting outside can help reduce fatigue, making it a great way to overcome symptoms of depression or burnout. Getting outside can also help you sleep better at night, especially if you do some physical activity, like gardening, hiking, or walking while you are outside.
6. Let a pet help you with your self-care.
From giving unconditional love to providing companionship, pets can be hugely beneficial for our self-care. Dogs especially can help reduce stress and feelings of anxiety and can even lower blood pressure. In fact, many people who suffer from disorders like PTSD have benefited from working daily with animals, which is why service dogs have become so helpful for these individuals.
7. Take care of yourself by getting organized.
If you feel unorganized at home or in your work space, your life can often feel organized at times. Getting organized allows you to take better care of yourself. A small change, like keeping a planner or a calendar on the fridge, can help you write down all your responsibilities and appointments, while at the same time keeping your life a bit more organized.
8. Make a menu for the week / Cook at home to care for yourself.
Many people don’t take the time to make themselves meals due to the time it takes but making a healthy meal for yourself and family is not only beneficial for your health but also gives you some quality family time. Even if it’s only once a week, consider making a healthy meal for yourself or your whole family. You could even look into a meal delivery service or meal kit that can help you get started. Meal prepping / making a menu for the week is also helpful so you have a plan in place, can get the items needed ahead of time, and don’t feel stressed daily wondering what’s for dinner.
9. Read a book.
We tend to turn to our phones or TV for entertainment, scrolling through news feeds that can contribute to our stress and anxiety rather than helping it. Instead, consider reading a book. You might be amazed at the difference it can make when you slow down instead of always looking at your phone. Not only can it help improve your mood, but it can also help you to stay more present and mindful.
10. Schedule your self-care time.
It can be hard for us all to find extra time. But it’s extremely important to plan regular self-care time. Schedule a time in your day whether it’s in the morning before everyone gets up, at night, on your lunch break, or right when you get home from work for your self-care time.
11. Write down five things every day that you’re thankful for.
No matter how bad your day is, we all have something to be grateful for – a house, car, health, family, job, dog, etc. Focusing on what you’re grateful for can help put things into perspective—and not put so much emphasis on the stress you might be dealing with.
12. Have a mini dance party.
Our lives are so busy and scheduled these days that it’s important to remember to have some fun! Have a dance party with your kids in the living room. Plan a pizza, popcorn and movie night with your kids at home. Do something fun.
13. Take five minutes to decompress every day.
It’s important to take time to just breathe. Just closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing for 5 minutes is a great form of self-care and relaxation.
14. Confront your negativity—on paper.
Journaling is a great way of self-care. Writing down the self-doubt, negative talk and combatting that of what you know to be true and what you’re capable of helps acknowledge the negative while not letting it overtake the positives in your life.
15. Have a family dinner.
Having a set meal time for family dinner whether you sit with your family, spouse, partner or alone to just enjoy your meal (not in front of a TV or with your phone) is a great way to connect with your loved ones and yourself.
16. Detox from technology and work.
Especially since COVID-19 and more work being from the home, it’s hard to disconnect from work and technology. It’s important to set boundaries around work emails, phone calls and texts. Set up work hours even if you’re working from home. Limit your screen time – your phone can also help with this through setting up screen time daily limits.
17. Enjoy breakfast.
Most days breakfast is on the run or often skipped, right? So take a day like a weekend to make breakfast and enjoy it with your family or yourself. If you have a big day coming up or a big meeting or interview, wake up a little early and fuel your body with healthy nutrients to start your day – even a piece of toast with peanut butter and banana is better than nothing!
18. Pamper Yourself
Whether you enjoy a hot bubble bath, wearing a face mask, doing your nails, or taking a long shower. It’s always good to spend time to pamper yourself. That doesn’t mean you have to schedule a full day at the spa, it just means spending a 10-15 minutes relaxing and doing something that feels pampering to you. And men, don’t be scared of this as well! A nice hot, epsom salt bath after a long day can do any body wonders!
Did you know August is National Wellness Month?
National Wellness Month focuses on self-care, managing stress and promoting healthy routines. Create wholesome habits in your lifestyle all month long and see how much better you feel!
Research has shown self-care helps manage stress and promotes happiness. Whether you challenge yourself to a new yoga pose or try a different bedtime routine, make a small change and impact your health in positive ways. We hope the above tips help!
HOPE is Here
Georgia HOPE is currently providing Mental Health and Substance Use services throughout the state of Georgia online and in-person. If you, or someone you know, are interested in services, you can enroll today or refer someone with a simple form. If you need more information or would like to speak to someone directly, please contact us here.
We are all in this together. Stay well! #HOPEisHere