In our January blog, we explained what “self-care” actually means, and identified ways to incorporate it into your life – far beyond just the superficial stuff. Good self-care is key to a positive mood and reduced stress. It’s also key to a good relationship with yourself and others.
Self-care needs to be intentional, an active choice, rather than something that just happens. Make it a point to add certain activities to your calendar and announce your plans to others to boost your commitment. Over time you will find your own rhythm and routine. Here are a few more simple ideas for self-care that can make a big impact on your overall well-being:
Know Your Burnout Signs
Today’s culture values work and productivity, which can make it hard to admit when we’re feeling drained. Unfortunately, ignoring the signs of exhaustion won’t make it go away, and it can lead to chronic health problems. Psychologist and author, Dr. Bourg Carter explained, “Burnout isn’t like the flu; it doesn’t go away after a few weeks unless you make some changes in your life. And as hard as that may seem, it’s the smartest thing to do because making a few little changes now will keep you in the race with a lot of gas to get you across the finish line.” An article by Brandi Neal, lists some of the most common signs of burn out. These signs include fatigue, unexplained physical symptoms, a sense of dread and emotional detachment. The article further explains that these symptoms are your body’s way of telling you it’s time to do something different.
Learn to Say “No”
Helping others is part of being human and it also has it’s own health benefits. However, it’s easy to fall into the habit of saying “yes” even when it interferes with our own happiness. For instance, maybe you’ve missed your own appointments or deadlines, and even stayed up too late because you agreed to do someone a favor. Learning how to say no when you’re overburdened is an important self-care tool. One article talks about strengthening your “no muscle” by using the response, “I’ll get back to you,” instead of giving an answer on the spot. This gives you time to determine if you really are in a position to help, without creating a hardship for yourself.
Keep a Journal or Make a Photo Album
Positive memories greatly enhance our present mood and even reduce depression. Assembling a photo album or writing in a journal allows you to document the positive things in your life, and you can revisit those memories any time you need a “pick-me-up.” This also carves out some ‘you-time’, which was recommended in our first self-care segment.
Change Your Routine
Sure, routine is comfortable and helps maintain stability. But, all too often, it’s easy for us to do things out of habit, rather than gain, and that can lead to the feeling of being ‘stuck.’ Try to incorporate small changes to shake up your routine. Modest changes can bring big rewards for our spirits. One example of a minor change is planning an event on a random day of the week. Or, start making your bed if you don’t already. It’s a way of telling yourself that you matter, and that alone can lift your mood.
Limit or Filter Your Social Media
It’s easy to get sucked into the world of social media. As a matter of fact, on average, each person spends 135 minutes per day on social media. That’s nearly 20% of a 12-hour day. Social media is a great way to stay connected to family and friends all across the world. It’s also another platform for people to spread negativity and share devastating news. This can effect your happiness and cause stress and anxiety. It’s also easy to fall into the habit of comparing ourselves and our lives to the lives of other people, which can make us feel inadequate. As with most things, moderation is key. A Forbes article from last summer has great suggestions for reducing your social media intake. A couple of examples are setting time limits (there are apps now that track your social media usage) and turning off your notifications so you are not tempted to check your phone every five minutes.