Are you feeling run-down? Are you continually putting the needs of others before your own? Do you feel like your life is out of balance?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, consider investing in self-care. Self-care refers to the practices you engage in to decrease stress and promote general well-being. Practices vary from person-to-person, however, self-care as a whole creates similar outcomes: increased happiness, balance, productivity, reduced stress and a greater sense of control.
Practising self-care tends to be the first neglected “to-do” during times of stress when in reality self-care is the antidote! When incorporated into your daily, weekly and monthly routine, you’ll experience a profound impact relative to the time invested.
Here are nine self-care practices you can implement today:
- Journaling: Journaling is a practice that takes minimal commitment with tremendous impact. While drinking your morning coffee or tea, write down your thoughts and feelings. Take a few minutes to jot down whatever comes to mind. There are no thoughts too insignificant to journal. This process allows you to acknowledge what is on your mind.
- Mindfulness: Due to the busy nature of our lives, we often function on autopilot. Mindfulness, the practice of present awareness, can bring you back to a present state of mind. Try being mindful when doing simple tasks, such as washing the dishes. Slow down to notice the temperature of the water, the direction of the scrub brush, the smell of the dish soap or the feel of the metal silverware or porcelain plates. When you slow down to notice the sensations of the experience you root yourself in the present.
- Limit the Use of Technology: With the popularity of internet-connected smartphones, it seems everyone is distracted 24/7. Being constantly connected can lead to a frenzied state, drawing your attention away from the present. Changing your usage habits with technology can have a substantial impact on lowering anxiety. Try to avoid looking at your cell phone first thing in the morning, establish a cut off time at night, and choose a day when you are technology free!
- Sleep: Make it a priority to create a healthy sleep routine. Shut down all screens (TV, mobile phone, tablet, computer) at least one hour prior to bedtime. To implement good sleep hygiene, wash your bedding frequently, turn down the thermostat to a cool setting, limit light pollution, and don’t allow pets where you sleep.
- Diet & Exercise: A healthy diet fuels natural energy and boosts our self-esteem and confidence. Exercise releases endorphins which make us feel good. Schedule an appointment with a nutritionist and trainer to learn about how improving your diet and physical activity can contribute to your well being.
- Meditation: Meditation reduces blood pressure, increases concentration, boosts memory, regulates mood, decreases anxiety, and can reset your attitude. Accessible, user-friendly apps, such as Headspace (www.headspace.com), guide you through daily meditations focused on a variety of topics.
- Play, Create, Dance: Schedule time to play, create or dance! Look for opportunities that inspire creativity. This may take the shape of painting, scrapbooking, adult colouring and many other activities! Eliciting your creative, playful side aids in self-care.
- Create Boundaries: Be aware of the people, activities and responsibilities that no longer serve you. Your time, energy, and emotional capital are valuable and should be used with intention. When you establish boundaries you reinforce healthy self-esteem.
- Breathe: Your breath can be used anytime, anywhere! When you feel overwhelmed, you tend to lose control of your breath. To take a deep breath, ground your feet to the floor, place your hands gently in your lap, take a deep breath in through your nose, and push the breath out of your mouth. This action lowers stress and tension in the body and regulates your emotional state.
Choose one or two self-care practices today and commit to them for a period of time. See how you feel and adjust from there. Incorporating self-care into your daily routine is a positive first step toward finding and maintaining balance!
Source: Megan Vossler, Psych Central