Practicing self-care is perhaps the best thing you can do for yourself, but also paradoxically the hardest. A lot can get in the way: work, family, and a long list of responsibilities. Maybe you’re not even sure where to start with self-care practices that are rejuvenating for you. There are infinite things you can do to be better in tune with your needs and emotions, so let’s explore some ideas that might work for you.
It’s important to know that self-care isn’t just about unwinding and indulging in things like hitting the spa or going on a retreat, and it doesn’t mean ordering a pizza or drinking the whole bottle of wine. It’s more about building healthy discipline and giving time and energy to things that make us feel nourished and have a stronger sense of self.
Healthy habits are the foundation of meaningful and restorative self-care. At the end of the day, it’s you who gets to decide what’s healthy for your physical, mental, and emotional health. If you’re wondering about where to start or looking for more ideas to take care of yourself, here are some things you can do.
1. Have a plan
Uncertainty is a major cause of stress, and one way to combat this is to plan. Developing a self-care plan can help reduce the anxiety that comes with “not knowing.” For example, if you plan to have a specific schedule for hitting the gym, you can set expectations and prepare in advance, which increases the likelihood of the plan coming to fruition. Having a plan is also a positive sign that you mean to take self-care seriously. The important thing is that you should customize your self-care plan according to your specific needs and lifestyle. If your first plan doesn’t work, keep refining until you have a plan that works for your life.
2. Eat intuitively
It seems like there is a new fad diet every week, and while some people get results, most don’t. Many of these trends aren’t effective and sustainable, and don’t allow for personalization. Some diets can do more harm than good. Instead of hopping from one diet to another, consider eating more intuitively. This “non-diet diet” focuses on creating a healthy relationship with food by paying attention to your hunger cues and eating more mindfully. Look at what your food contains, like proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, as well as micronutrients, and assess your food choices based on what makes you feel energized and satisfied.
3. Prioritize sleep
Getting adequate, restful sleep every night is an essential but often overlooked self-care practice. Quality sleep helps keep stress in check and does wonders to your immune system. Moreover, sleep helps regulate your mood, which can result in productivity and more positive emotions. Keep the room you sleep in cool, quiet, and as dark as possible. Keep devices out of arm’s reach, and consider a yoga nidra meditation to help calm your mind before bed.
4. Get moving
The body is designed for movement, so it works best when movement is incorporated often. Exercise is perhaps one of the best ways you can take care of yourself as it has been proven to have several positive effects on your physical, mental, and emotional health. If you love the gym, go hit the weights! Activities like walking, swimming, yoga, dance, and other forms of movement are just as effective, so choose what you enjoy most.
5. Manage stress
Learning to manage stress healthily is a necessary skill in a world that seems like it’s trying to stress us to death. By replacing bad coping mechanisms with healthier ones, you’re gaining control over the situation and your emotions instead of the other way around. There are many effective ways you can manage stress, which can range from meditation to therapy. You can also explore products like CBD oil, which is known to help fight stress, reduce anxiety, and promote better sleep.
6. Socialize & connect
Prolonged isolation or a lack of meaningful socialization can take a toll on your health. Even if you thrive on your own, nothing can replace the sense of belongingness and community of being around people you genuinely like and feel a connection with. More importantly, human-to-human connection leads to happiness and well-being and could even prolong your lifespan.
7. Practice gratitude
Being kind to oneself is an important self-care habit to build. You can explore gratitude journaling where you write down things you’re grateful for or make it a habit to do positive self-talk daily. You’d be surprised how this simple habit can transform your mindset and attitude towards yourself and your life. Make sure to express your gratitude to people who have had a positive impact on your life, since that can give both of you a boost to your mood.
8. Work towards financial wellness
Achieving financial stability is easier said than done, but it’s a step that will help you secure your future and your mental health. Money problems can have a significant impact on your health and relationships. Financial health could make you feel more secure and less anxious about the future. Simply put, if you have your finances in order, you’ll have peace of mind. While you may not always have room to grow at a particular job, you can always upgrade your skills, add a side gig, look for better positions, or start your own business. If you have an attitude that you always have opportunities, you’re more likely to see them so you can improve your position.
9. Keep learning
Humans are creatures of habit. While this can be beneficial at times, being so set in one’s ways can impede growth and make you less resilient against stressful events. There’s a sense of fulfillment that comes with stepping out of your comfort zone to learn new things or pick up new skills. Try a new hobby, explore new skills, and do things differently than usual just for fun. You’ll improve the quality of your life, and grow new pathways in your brain that will keep your mind more flexible for the future.
Self-care isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy. Your lifestyle, choices, and responsibilities will dictate the type of self-care you might need. If you wish to succeed, take steps each day until you get to where you want to be.