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5 TIPS FOR Self-Care

If you’re like me, self-care is something that gets pushed to the side during my busy schedule. Self-care can seem like a luxury most of us can’t afford, or something unattainable like meditating in the full lotus position on a distant mountaintop. However, this year I’ve made self-care a personal priority. I decided to take a closer look and at how we can incorporate self-care into our daily life.

What is self-care?

“Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health,” according to Raphilia Michael, MA, “Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook.”

Why is it important?

Self-care is different than being selfish. Practicing self-care can:

• Improve mood

• Reduce anxiety

• Improve your relationships

If we take good care of ourselves, we will be better able to take care of others and fulfill our responsibilities. As instructed every time before taking off in an airplane, we must place the air mask on our self before helping others.

In this article, I’m going beyond the three basics concepts of self-care, which are: eat a nutritious diet, get enough sleep, and get enough physical activity. I’ve included five simple tips designed to help you increase your self-care practice throughout the day.

1. Make your bed in the morning

At the 2014 commencement speech at the University of Texas, Naval Admiral William H. McRaven said, “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.” Even before seeing a video of this inspirational speech, I’ve always been a big fan of making my bed every morning. Admiral McRaven eloquently explained why I derive such satisfaction from this small act the following way:

“If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.

“By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.”

2. Write three things on your daily gratitude list

According to UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, regularly expressing gratitude literally changes the molecular structure of the brain, keeps the gray matter functioning, and makes us healthier and happier.

When you feel happiness, the central nervous system is affected. You are more peaceful, less reactive, and less resistant. And gratitude is the most effective practice for stimulating feelings of happiness.

Write at least three things on your gratitude list every day. This practice is helpful in the morning to set the tone for the day or at night to focus on positive thoughts before bed. You can even jot three things down during the day if you’re having a difficult time to help reset your mood.

3. Go outside

According to Tchiki Davis, PhD, “Spending time outside can help you reduce stress, lower your blood

pressure, and be more mindful. Studies have even shown that getting outside can help reduce fatigue, making it a great way to overcome symptoms of depression or burnout.”

Going outside is something that can be easily incorporated into your day. If you work in an office, try to get up from your desk and go outside on your breaks. Setting reminders on your calendar for these breaks is another easy way to prioritize self-care. If you’re feeling social, invite a coworker. If you need quiet time, get out there by yourself.

Before or after work (or both!), try to incorporate some physical activity in your time outside. “Getting outside can also help you sleep better at night, especially if you do some physical activity, like hiking or walking, while you are outside,” according to Davis.