It’s easy to think of self-care as being selfish when, in reality, it’s actually necessary for our own mental health and well-being. After all, how can we effectively care for others if we’re not taking care of ourselves? We want you to do just that, so we’re sharing ten simple ways you can incorporate more self-care into your life.
Start your day with self-care
An easy way to get started with self-care is to incorporate it into your morning routine. Try starting the day with something you enjoy, like reading or a cup of coffee — or both! Just remember to slow down and savor the moment; absorb the pleasant, relaxing energy as you ease into your day.
For example, if you’re a chronic on-the-run eater, try starting your day with a sit-down breakfast. Turn the TV off, put away your phone, and let yourself enjoy the moment.
If breakfast isn’t your thing, maybe meditation is. It only takes a few minutes to add a meditation practice to your morning routine. Aim for just three to five minutes at first, then build from there. You can get started today by downloading a meditation app!
Take time off
So many of us get to the end of the year only to scramble to schedule vacation time before it’s gone. That time is intended to give us the breaks we need throughout the year, not just one break (that usually isn’t really a break) over Christmas! So make a plan and use the time you’re given.
Consider taking mental health days during the year. Got a big project coming up? Be proactive and schedule a few days off after the project wraps up. Or just pick a Friday and give yourself a three-day weekend getaway, even if it’s a “staycation” at a nearby hotel or AirBNB.
And don’t forget to disconnect completely. Sure, emergencies happen, but if you’re checking email several times a day, you’re not giving your brain the time it needs to decompress and reduce stress levels. So shut off your phone — or go somewhere with no cell service!
Speaking of big projects, you might not be in a place where you can get away, so plan a small reward instead. Decide now what you’ll do as a reward so you have something to look forward to.
Spa days are always a good idea. Pamper yourself with a mani/pedi or full-body massage. On a budget? Look for a local cosmetology or massage school. They offer discounted services by senior-level students (under the guidance of faculty).
Have some pocket money? Head to your favorite mall to pick out something special for yourself. And while you’re at it, treat yourself with a special meal or dessert. If you don’t do it all that often, it’s ok to splurge once in a while.
More of the practical type? Reward yourself by fixing something that’s been a small annoyance. Maybe it’s a button that needs to be replaced or a hem that needs to be adjusted. Or maybe you just have been meaning to clean out your closet but haven’t had the time. Carve out an hour to do something that’s going to make your life easier and it will feel like a huge reward!
Get some rest
You’ve probably heard how important sleep is to your overall health and well-being. It’s no joke. Even the slightest improvements to your sleep can produce real benefits. Turn your sleep into self-care by trying one of the following:
Establish (and stick to) an evening routine
Don’t use electronic devices for an hour before bed
Dab some lavender essential oil under your pillow
Take a melatonin supplement (always check with your healthcare professional first)
Eliminate that afternoon cappuccino!
Focusing on the positive aspects of our lives can help put everything in perspective when we feel overwhelmed. It can help you to remember not only the positive event, but the feeling that goes with it.
It doesn’t matter whether you use a paper journal, a note on your phone, a note taking app, or a gratitude journal app, only that you find two or three things to be grateful for every day. They don’t have to be monumental; they can be small things, like getting a good parking spot or that the barista made your coffee exactly how you like it.
Of course, bad days happen, and sometimes it’s hard to find something to be grateful for. On those days, you’ve just got to find the things that weren’t a total disaster and be grateful that they weren’t.
Change your language
We all have that little voice inside that constantly narrates our lives. It’s our constant companion, but not often friendly. It’s the voice that tells us we look fat in those jeans. The one that says we’ll never live up to other people’s expectations. Well, it’s time to tell that voice where to go and start changing the way it talks to us.
Positive self-talk is hard to do when we’ve been in a negative rut, but it’s the fastest way to improve how we treat ourselves. When you catch yourself being negative, start replacing those words with positive things about yourself. What do you love about you? What are you good at?
Keep positive affirmations in front of you. Put sticky notes on your bathroom mirror or computer monitor. You can even change your phone’s wallpaper so every time you open it you read “You are enough!” Start a note on your phone or a page in your journal to log all the compliments people say about you. Then, when you feel that negative voice in your head starting up, flip it open and read about how awesome you are.
Interacting with other people is important for your mental health. No matter if you’re an introvert or extrovert, having friends you can spend time and share your life with is key. (The only difference is how many people you want to have around at any given time!) There are lots of ways to socialize without having to feel awkward. Find what works for you. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Schedule a dinner with friends or family at a new place you’ve never been.
Put together a guys/girls weekend at a funky AirBNB.
Schedule a coffee date with an old friend to catch up.
Check out a Meetup group to meet new people who share your interests.
Whatever method you choose, find a way to connect with the people who are important in your life.
Learn something fun (or new)
We all have that thing or place we’ve wanted to try but haven’t. What’s stopping you? If you say “time,” your real answer should be “priorities.” You get to choose what you do with your time, so make the time to do the thing. You’re the only one holding you back.
Sign up for that yoga class. Or art class. Or hand lettering class. Or volunteer opportunity. Filling your time with an activity that brings you joy is a small yet significant way to integrate self-care into your life.
After you’ve tried something new, why not do something for no reason at all? The items on our to-do list take up so much time that we forget to do things just for fun. You read that right! FUN. So many of us have erased “play” from our vocabulary like it’s a bad word. It’s not! Practice self-care by incorporating some play back into your everyday.
Are you ready to play? Think about what makes you smile, giggle, or laugh out loud, then find a way to go out and do it. Rent a bicycle. Fly a kite. Take a picnic lunch to a local park. And when you’re ready to take things up a notch, put on your favorite album and turn your living room into a dance floor!
Or maybe it’s doing nothing at all. Lay in the grass and watch the clouds. Sit next to the water and skip rocks. It doesn’t have to be complicated, you just have to do it.
Exercise is great for our bodies, but did you know it helps us mentally too? A little bit of exercise can go a long way when it comes to self-care. Start your day some light movement to get your blood pumping — doing so actually stimulates your brain and body! All you need is some floor space for jumping jacks, sit-ups or yoga stretches, whatever feels good.
Keep up this momentum by finding ways to move throughout the day, especially if you have desk job. Take a quick walk, even if it’s just down the hall a couple of times, or maybe start a group walk at lunchtime for accountability. Any movement is good movement!
Baby steps to self-care
It can be easy to look at this list and get overwhelmed. So here’s your challenge: pick one thing from this list to try this week. Then, after you get used to doing it, try another one. Slowly but surely, you’ll find that you’ve dramatically improved the way you take care of yourself.
So what are you waiting for? Take a moment for self-care right now!
Ron Martin is the Director of Marketing at Kaneka Ubiquinol. Ron’s dedication to lifelong learning and belief that “one cannot know too much” inspired a decades-long career centered around educating the public about health.