Sometimes the best way for someone to take care of others is by first taking care of their self. Not only is self-care vital for mental health, but it also affects one’s health. It’s essential to take the time to listen to various needs and stressors, and that doesn’t make anyone selfish for doing so. It builds character and results in feeling stronger. Sometimes hard things will happen, and we have no control over it. When things like that happen, it’s essential to take a step back and find ways to unwind. Self-care is also necessary when making healthier choices as we discuss in the Body Reboot book. Make healthier decisions by caring for your mind, body, and heart. Below are several ways to stay focused and practice daily self-care.
Write down five things that were okay about your day
Not everything about a day has to be bad, which is why Women’s Health recommends writing down at least five things you are thankful for or appreciated about your day.
“No matter how bad your day sucks, we all have something to be grateful for—a home, a car, vision, two legs, etc.,” says Nancy B. Irwin, Psy.D. Focusing on what you're grateful for can help put things into perspective—and not put so much emphasis on the stressors you might also be dealing with.
Take care of something like a plant
NBC News Better recommends taking care of something such as a pet or plant to boost your mood and feel great. Taking care of things can also help you feel motivated to do other things from eating healthier to exercising more often.
“Taking care of something else can be a great way to take care of ourselves,” says Dr. Hooper. “Having a dog or cat at home is really rewarding and you get much more in return than it requires to take care of them. Just taking care of a simple potted plant or succulent can be really rewarding, too. Taking the time to water them and see them grow can foster feeling of growth and rejuvenation in yourself.”
This tip from Dr. Hooper is possibly my favorite because I can relate so well to how good it feels to take care of my two dogs. My most beloved sound in the world is the sound of them lapping up water in a freshly filled bowl. They also help motivate me to take a walk no matter how tired I am, and bring a smile to my face just by being their sweet, silly selves. Now, as I’m getting one of my pups, Josepher, in training to be a therapy dog, my puppy love is off the charts.
Don’t forget about the quality of self-care.
Any self-care is better than nothing at all, but Psych Central brings up an excellent point that when quality is lacking, then you may not be using your time wisely. In other words, make sure your self-care time is going to benefit you and not just waste your time.
“Go for quality, especially when the quantity is lacking,” Tuckman said. For instance, rather than getting sucked into channel surfing for hours, Tuckman only watches the shows he’s recorded. “By minimizing my TV time, I have more time for other better things.”
Go a different way to work
Sometimes switching up your work routine can help you de-stress and notice new and exciting things. Women’s Health says it’s an excellent idea to improve what would typically be a mundane day by trying something new.
It turns out that, like the rest of your body, your brain is subject to the “use it or lose it” theory, says Vernon Williams, M.D., founding director of the Center for Sports Neurology and Pain Medicine at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute. Take care of your brain by challenging it—and, no, you don't need a fancy app. Williams suggests learning a foreign language or trying a new sport, or simply taking a different route to work in the morning.
Go outside and breathe in the fresh air
Sometimes going outside and getting some fresh air can really improve your day, and also gain perspective on something that’s bothering you. Greatest discusses why else something as simple as going outside can improve your health:
Ditching the comfort of your home is a great way to improve mental and physical health. Similar to meditation, spending time out of doors benefits the brain. Other research suggests that being outside in nature also makes us feel more alive. Even living in an area with more green space (i.e. parks and gardens) is associated with greater life satisfaction and less mental distress.
Write it in down in your calendar
It might sound extreme writing down when you should take some “me time” in your calendar, but if you’re writing it down it’s more likely, it’ll happen, which is a good thing. Taking some time for yourself will help keep the stress away and hopefully encourage you to practice self-care more consistently in the future.
Take a close look at your calendar and carve out one or two hours for self-care and stick to it, Boivin said. This may take extra prep, but it’s worth it. For Adams, the mornings are the best time to exercise, so at night, she lays out her workout and professional gear and anything else she needs for her day.
Keep an eye out for special events, too. “When I see information about a cultural event that I would enjoy, I make a reservation or purchase tickets so that I have something pleasurable on my calendar,” Adams said.
If you’re crunched for time, Orbuch suggested gradually increasing your self-care each month by a few minutes.
Start a gratitude journal
Similar to writing down 5 things that you liked about your day, NBCNews Better recommends starting a gratitude journal, which can help you focus on the many things you are grateful for.
Writing down things I am grateful for in a gratitude journal helps me get centered at the end of a busy day.
“This practice has been show to increase a sense of happiness and is a good reminder in the moment of all that we can be grateful for,” says Dr. Gray. “You simply make a list of things that you are grateful for in this moment. It might be something as small as being grateful for the feeling of warm sun on one's face, or that you are able to take a deep breath easily. Some people choose to write each one down in a journal to be re-read when they need a boost, or put each on a piece of paper in a jar and pick one out to read and reflect on at certain times.”
Stress is horrible for our health, which is why when we feel stressed out it’s best to take a step back and find a way to relax. Greatist says to use different strategies to destress such as going on a walk or reading a good book.
By now, we all know that stress is really bad for our health. Research suggests that stress may be contagious, and the more stressed we think we are, the worse it might be for our heart health. But between work, relationships, family, and whatever else life throws at us, it’s difficult not to succumb to it. Use these strategies, which range from drinking tea to practicing progressive relaxation, to keep the stress monster at bay.
In addition to using strategies for coping with stress, it’s also important to process negative feelings. Acknowledge feelings and letting go of them (as Healthy Women recommends), can help you move on and deal with what’s going on at that moment.
Take time to process negative feelings, like anxiety or stress. Don't rush through them or ignore them altogether. Acknowledging your feelings can slow you down and help you think more rationally and can stop your emotions from looming even larger.
Self-care is an essential part of your health, which is why we think it’s so important to take that time to focus on you. Another way you can take care of your body is by making healthier decisions. If you’ve been struggling with finding a diet that works for you, consider going on a low carb diet. At the time of writing this post, we're giving away free copies of the Body Reboot book. Cover the cost of shipping, and we’ll send you a FREE book! Head to this page TODAY to see if there are any remaining copies.
Discover how to activate your body's “Reboot Switch” that flips on a fat burning inferno so you can finally achieve your weight loss goals!
There are 4 secrets being kept from you about why a modern diet is making us fatter, more tired & sick.
Discover how to activate your body's “Reboot Switch” that flips on a fat burning inferno so you can finally get healthy and achieve your weight loss goals!