“Self-care” seems to be trending, particularly in social media. In many ways, this is positive because studies have shown that self-care is essential for our physical, emotional, and mental health. Unfortunately, the implementation of the concept can be very surface-level. When you hear the term “self-care” its easy to picture candles, baths and spa treatments. While these things can absolutely help in looking after oneself, some folks probably struggle to see how to translate “self care” into things that help their well-being. If you’re not a “bath person,” what does self-care look like?
The truth is, “self-care” is any activity that we do, deliberately, allowing us to check in with ourselves and reset for a moment. That’s it! By doing this, we’re helping ensure we put our best foot forward in everything we do. And fortunately, there are lots of ways to reset, including more than just the superficial stuff. As the phrase implies, “self-care” is about your-self. The key is finding things that you enjoy and that energize you.
You’re probably asking “where do I start?” This is a common question that many of our clients ask. Life tends to require a lot from us, and in order to keep up, we can neglect the interests and habits that bring us happiness and clarity, both of which are key in making healthy decisions. Here are some ideas anyone can practice to help them reboot and recharge:
Go for a Walk
Overworking yourself can cause stress and exhaustion, which makes you less productive. It can also lead to all sorts of health problems from anxiety to insomnia. Take quick breaks throughout the day to go for a stroll or even just step outside to get some fresh air. Studies have shown this can help to clear and refocus your mind, keeping you sharp and energized for any new project that might come your way.
Engage with Others
The Mental Health Foundation wrote an article detailing how meaningful relationships have been shown to positively influence mental health. People who are more socially connected to family, friends, or their community are happier, physically healthier and live longer, with fewer mental health problems than people who are less well connected. And not just social connections, but real, genuine relationships. Make it a point to spend quality time with friends and family, or get to know someone at work or even a place you frequent.
Make Time for Yourself
The good thing about “self-care” is that it can be practiced nearly anywhere. You can listen to your favorite music on your daily commute or listen to an audio book if you can’t find time during the day to break away and read. Making time for your physical self is necessary too. In addition to exercise, it’s important to eat healthy, get adequate sleep, and practice personal hygiene. Another interesting article by the Mental Health Foundation discusses the connection between our mental and physical health. Poor physical health can lead to an increased risk of poor mental health, and stress can have a negative impact on our physical well-being.
A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals, promoting an overall sense of well-being. A study in Norway even found that people with a strong sense of humor outlived those who don’t laugh as much. And, if you can’t “find the funny,” believe it or not, there are such things as laugh yoga and laugh therapy groups! Helpguide.org talks about how laughter affects our health, and has suggestions for bringing more laughter into your life and tips for developing your sense of humor.
Limit Your News Intake
It seems as though today’s news is more visual and shocking than it was decades ago. A recent survey from the American Psychological Association found that more than half of Americans say watching or reading the news causes them stress, anxiety, fatigue or sleep loss. Still, one in 10 adults checks the news every hour. Sure, it is important to stay informed, and some anxiety can be good for creating awareness and proactive problem-solving. However, a state of constant stress and worry can be detrimental to your health and it can also have an adverse affect on the people closest to you. You might not realize it, but you could be transferring your negative emotions onto your friends and family. As with most things, moderation is key and timing is very important. Try to limit your news intake to one time per day, just to catch yourself up on the major headlines. As to timing, try to avoid reading any news first thing in the morning as this sets the tone for your day. Similarly, stay away from any major news right before bed to help you get a more restful sleep. If circumstances make it difficult for you to limit how often you’re exposed to daily headlines, read this article for tips on healthy ways to manage your anxiety over bad news.