Do you spend a lot of time taking care of others? At times, do you feel overwhelmed and stressed out? Does it feel as though there is not enough time in the day to do the things that you really want to do? If so, you could benefit from practicing self-care.
What Is Self-Care
Self-care is about caring for yourself in a way that protects and enhances your physical and emotional well-being. It is about making the time to give yourself what you need in order to thrive. Self-care is not about being selfish. The care that you give to yourself can improve both your mood and your relationships.
The Benefits Of Self-Care
When you feel well cared for, it is easier to support and care for others. Being able to attend to others needs effectively can have a positive impact on your relationships. Practicing self-care decreases symptoms of anxiety and depression. It takes less effort to handle daily stress when you practice self-care. Self-knowledge improves and more positive thought patterns emerge when you take the time to engage in self-care activities. Self-care can improve your immune system, your ability to manage stress, and your physical and mental well-being. Making simple changes in your daily routine can make all the difference in caring for yourself.
1. Eat Right
It is important to eat foods that nourish your body. Do you often make sure everyone else is enjoying their food, yet find yourself standing and eating, or skipping meals? Have you ever been hangry? Maybe you find yourself short tempered and grumpy only to realize you haven’t eaten all day. Perhaps you have the opposite problem and overeat to manage your feelings or choose foods that don’t satiate your hunger. Eating on a schedule and having a balanced diet with a variety of healthy foods can help keep your blood sugar stable, help you maintain a healthy weight, and improve your mood. Giving your body proper nourishment is a way to practice self-care.
Daily exercise is good for your body and your mind. You could go to the gym, join an exercise class, such as yoga or Pilates, or get out in nature and take a walk. Moving your body is what’s important. Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight, and improve your strength and immune system. The endorphins released when you exercise can improve your mood and decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression. Working out, as long as you are not overdoing it, helps decrease levels of cortisol and adrenaline, the stress hormones. Exercise also helps promote better sleep.
3. Get Enough Sleep
The benefits of a good night’s sleep are well documented. A lack of quality sleep can negatively affect your physical and mental health. Although your body rests when you are sleeping, your mind is quite active. This is especially true during REM sleep where dreaming enables you to process your experiences and feelings and helps with memory consolidation. In order to experience restful sleep, you want to set yourself up for success. Create a comfortable atmosphere in your room by keeping it cool and dark. Try to avoid alcohol and caffeine late in the day and avoid exercise a few hours before going to sleep. Turn off electronics and engage in restful activities, such as reading and meditation at least 30 minute before bed. You are more likely to experience a good night’s sleep if you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
4. Establish Boundaries
Maintaining healthy boundaries allows you to manage your time and energy effectively. If people, activities, and obligations are demanding more than you have to give, you need to establish some boundaries. Learning to say no to things that drain you can be very empowering. This way, the things that you say yes to will become very meaningful and energy giving instead of draining. Your time is valuable, and so is your energy. Setting boundaries that protect how you spend your time and use your energy is a way to be kind to yourself and practice good self-care.
Humans are social beings and need to spend time with friends and family and connect with others. Catching up with dear friends, family vacations, and spending time with loved ones can be good for your mental health. While spending time with those that you have formed a strong attachment to can be good for you, socializing in general can also be beneficial. Sharing a sense of community with others can decrease feelings of loneliness. Church, the gym, sporting events, clubs, and other organizations can help you experience connection by interacting with others with similar goals. When you socialize with others, it can improve your overall well-being.
6. Spend Time Alone
While spending time with others is an important part of self-care, so is spending time alone. Spending time alone enables you to focus inward. This is the time to pay attention to yourself, not others. You can focus on your thoughts and spend time feeling your feelings. Engaging in activities that help you unwind and relax can also be beneficial during your alone time. Have a cup of tea, take a walk, relax in a hot bath, and listen to comforting music. The important thing about alone time is that you put yourself on your schedule and make this self-care time intentional.
7. Practice Mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness is a good way to engage in self-care. When you are being mindful, your attention and focus is on the present moment. Although it is quite easy to understand, it can be challenging to practice. Distracting thoughts and feelings can interfere with your ability to be grounded in the current moment. Meditation, yoga, and grounding exercises can help you learn to focus on what is happening now. Practicing mindfulness can decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression and improve your mood. You can start by focusing on your breathing as you take some slow, deep breaths.
8. Learn Something New
When you learn something new, it requires your full attention and focus. While this is good for practicing mindfulness, it also encourages new connections to form between neurons in the brain. Because of neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to change throughout life, learning new things can help ward off dementia. Since learning something new can be exciting, it helps decrease boredom and overactive thoughts. Learning new skills can help you learn other things faster and improve your memory. Engaging in something that’s new and different can help break the monotony of routine and is a good way to practice self-care.
9. Do Things That Bring You Joy
Making time for the things that you enjoy is an essential part of caring for yourself. It is easy to let these things slide when your to do list is long and there isn’t enough time in the day to tackle it all. However, when you carve out the time to do the things that you love, everything that you have to do becomes more manageable. Put these activities on your schedule. If you want to spend more time with your kids and you love being out in nature, take your kids on a hike. If you enjoy traveling that might be trickier to incorporate into your day. You could, however, spend time each day reading up on places you would like to visit, or planning out your next vacation. Scheduling time to do the things that bring you joy can increase positive feelings and improve your mood.
In order to care for yourself effectively, you need to spend some time every day focusing on you. It could be a little challenging at first to do this. However, once you notice how much better you feel, the benefits of practicing self-care will be worth the effort.