Self-care is one of the most important practices a person can do for themselves, especially these days. It’s also pretty easy to do - the hard part is actually finding the time to practice self-care.
The sad truth is when you find yourself constantly busy and overwhelmed, it’s really easy to put yourself last. Why? Society, probably - that was of life is undoubtedly hardwired into our brains.
However, there isn’t actually a rule out there that says we must shoulder the weight of the world. When you are feeling far too busy and overwhelmed, the best thing you can truly do for yourself is to take a step back, take a big deep breath, and be kind to yourself!
So Why Does Self-Care Matter?
It really is important to take care of yourself - your whole self - your mind, your body and even your soul, every single day. Not just when you get sick!
Some prime examples of self-care include:
Learning how to eat right
Taking a time-out when you need it
Even these small things can help you stay happy, healthy and of course, mentally strong!
Why Does Self-Care Seem So Difficult To Do?
As mentioned before, self-care isn’t always easy. We’re busy, we have loved ones we put first, we have stressful jobs, or (and this becomes truer every year) we are just far too consumed by all the technology that surrounds us to make time for ourselves.
“Me-Time” is often the last thing on our agenda. Ridiculously enough, we can actually find ourselves feeling guilty about taking any time that may be required to take care of ourselves (and if you’re a parent, you’ll know that the parent guilt is STRONG).
Therefore, getting started with self-care can be challenging, which is why so many of us “fail” at it.
How Can We Engage in Self-Care Then?
Many, many things fall into the column of “self-care”, and there are many things you can do to engage in the practice. The truth is, self-care looks different to everybody, so your goal should be to first figure out which self-care strategies actually work best for you.
Then you need to learn how you can use those strategies and implement them into your daily routine so you can continue to boost your own well-being not just temporarily, but forever.
Which leads us here! To the 10 best ways you can get started with your self-care.
1. Getting enough sleep.
We know it sounds a little obvious, but sleep really can have a massive effect on not only how you feel emotionally, but also how you feel physically. So much so, in fact, not getting enough of it can even cause some serious health issues.
Getting enough sleep may seem simple enough, however, 40% of people get less than seven hours of sleep every single night. Adults who are healthy should aim to get an average of seven to nine hours of sleep per night!
2. Moving your body daily.
Move! Even when you don’t feel like it. Fitting in at least 30 minutes of some form of exercise - whether it’s a full-on workout or a leisurely walk outside - is truly just as good for your physical health as it is for your mental health!
The best part? You don’t have to do it all at once, either! If you can’t manage a full half-hour all in one go, you can spread them out into 3 10-minute walks etc. The most important thing is to create a routine that fits best with you and your lifestyle.
3. Eating right.
Again, another obvious one, but the food we eat does have the potential to either keep us really healthy or contribute to us gaining weight. But did you know it can also help to keep our minds working correctly and alert?
Some of the best self-care aiding foods include:
Green, leafy veggies
4. Saying no to others, and saying yes to your self-care.
We know how hard it can be to say no to people. Most of us feel obligated to say yes whenever someone asks if we can do them a favour, or out for a dinner date. However, when you’re incredibly stressed or feeling overworked, saying yes to literally anyone or anything can lead to some serious burnout, irritability and anxiety.
Sure, it may take a little practice, but trust us, once you finally learn how to politely say no to certain things, you’ll start to feel a lot more self-confident, and as a bonus, you’ll have more time to practice self-care and prioritise what truly matters!
5. Getting outside and taking a break.
Spending some time outside can really help you lower your blood pressure, reduce stress and be more mindful! In fact, some studies have even shown that getting outside can also help to reduce fatigue, which makes it a great way to overcome any symptoms of depression or burnout.
Not only that, but it can also help you sleep better at night, especially if you try to do some physical activity while you’re out there. Gardening, hiking or even just walking… it all counts!
Unconditional love? Companionship? Non-judgemental confidants? Pets can be HUGELY beneficial for our self-care (and also, they’re adorable). And there’s no surprise from just with this one, but dogs especially can help to reduce stress and any feelings of anxiety. They can even help to lower your blood pressure.
So much so, in fact, that many people who suffer from orders like PTSD have benefited from working daily with animals. This is why service dogs have become so helpful to them.
7. Getting organised.
Feeling unorganised in your own home or workspace can give you the sense that your entire life is unorganised, even if that’s not actually the case. Getting organised, even when starting small, allows you to take better care of yourself.
A small, simple change, i.e. keeping a planner or a calendar on the fridge, can help you stay organised as it gets you to write down all your responsibilities and appointments. And at the same time, it helps to keep your life a bit more organised and more calm than chaotic.
8. Making a menu for the week / Cooking at home for yourself.
These days, most people don’t take the time out to make themselves good, home-cooked meals due to, well, not having the time. However, making a healthy meal for yourself and your family is not only beneficial for your health but also provides you with some quality family time.
And it doesn’t have to happen every day! Even cooking a healthy meal for yourself or your whole family as little as once a week can make all the difference in the world. In fact, you could look into a meal delivery service, or a meal kit to help to get you started.
Meal prepping/putting together a menu for the week ahead is also helpful as it means you have a plan in place, you can get the items you need ahead of time, and you won’t suffer the daily stress of wondering what you should put together for dinner that night.
9. Reading a book.
Because of the time we live in, we have the annoying habit of turning to our phones or TV for entertainment. Scrolling through news feeds, social media, even e-mails can contribute to our stress and anxiety levels rather than helping them (no surprise there).
So next time you find yourself doing that mindlessly, consider reading a book instead. You may actually find yourself amazed at the difference it can make when you slow right down instead of always looking at your phone.
Not only will it help you improve your mood, but it will also help you to stay more present and mindful within your daily life.
10. Scheduling in your self-care time.
It can definitely be hard for most of us to find extra time in our days. But it IS extremely important to plan any sort of self-care time.
Scheduling in a time during your day - whether it’s in the morning before everyone wakes up/you have to go to work, at night, on your lunch break or straight when you get home from work - will give you a sense of control, routine and help you to feel more on top of your game. It’ll also bring the things you should be prioritising (such as yourself) more into focus.
And finally, did you know that August is National Wellness Month?
So what better time to start implementing a self-care routine than right now? Take up yoga, find a dance class, start making smoothies in the morning, go for a walk - whatever it may be, just make sure it’s something you actually enjoy doing - and get doing it!