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.
4. Be ok with saying no
You may have heard of FOMO (“Fear Of Missing Out”), but what about JOMO (“Joy Of Missing Out”)? Even if we don’t have the time or genuine desire to do things, many people find saying no to a friend, family member or coworker extremely difficult.
Saying yes when we’re already stretched thin can lead to “burnout, anxiety, and irritability”. Davis said, “It may take a little practice, but once you learn how to politely say no, you’ll start to feel more empowered, and you’ll have more time for your self-care.”
Saying no is especially important when the request would interfere with your self-care time. Schedule time for self-care, whether it be 15 minutes of morning meditation before the rest of your family wakes up or going to a movie with friends, and hold yourself accountable to honor this commitment.
And remember, “No.” is a complete sentence.
5. Define what self-care means for you, then do it!
I posted on my Facebook page asking friends “What is your favorite practical tip for self-care?” After reading the 50 comments, it’s clear to me that people practice self-care in a variety of ways. My friend Lauren B. said, “Self-care is subjective but can be anything that rejuvenates the spirit and soul. Providing an unlimited, board definition of self-care can help folks achieve it.”
According to Maria Baratta, PhD, LCSW, “Self-care means identifying what you enjoy doing and what’s fun for you and make a serious effort to integrate it into your day or, at the very least, your week. Make it a habit to plan something to look forward to everyday and that doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as planning to read a good book at night or planning to have dinner with someone whose company you enjoy.”