Sometimes life can get a little stressful. Things can happen that can mean that it can take a toll on your mental and physical health, especially if you’re always looking out for others instead of yourself.
That’s when self care becomes vital. Every person needs to practice self care, as it helps them to have a better sense of physical and mental wellbeing. But what exactly is self care, and how do you do it? Is it just a matter of lighting a few candles to unwind or is there more to it? We’re here to answer all of your questions and more in this comprehensive guide to self care.
What Is Self-Care
Self care appears to be a recent thing in many respects due to its popularity in the mainstream media. Of course, self care is much more important than just a temporary trend.
So what is self care? It’s basically exactly how it sounds – when you practice self care, you are taking the time to look after yourself. It’s a conscious choice to do things that will help you to feel better. This may be physical or mental acts. The outcome should ultimately be that you end up feeling better after practicing self care, both physically and mentally.
Why Self-Care Is Important
Okay, so now that you know what self care is, why is it important?
Well, self care is vital for your general well being, especially your mental health. It helps your relationship with yourself, it can improve your stress levels and it can give you a much healthier work life balance. Self care can be something really simple that just takes a few seconds, or something like a pamper session that could take all evening.
Self care is basically just a matter of looking after yourself. It’s not selfish and it doesn’t mean that you aren’t prioritizing your loved ones. If you feel good about yourself, those energies can transfer to other people. Self care isn’t just a way to reward yourself, it’s something that needs to be practiced for the sake of leading a fulfilled and well balanced life.
It’s also important for your stress levels. Self care can help you to manage your stress levels a lot more easily because you are taking the time for yourself. If you’re struggling to focus, then self care can help with that too.
Benefits Of Self-Care
There are a wide variety of different benefits to practicing self care. Here are just a few.
- Better Emotional Health
Self care is vital for the sake of your emotional health. If you are looking after yourself and taking some time for your own wellbeing, it can help you to feel much better about yourself. There’s a lot of value in that.
- Improved Physical Health
The biggest thing that is going to impact your physical health is the amount of exercise you are getting and the quality of your diet. With that being said, practicing self care can also be beneficial for your physical wellbeing. This is because self care will activate your body’s relaxation response. This is great because it can reduce your stress levels, which is important for your wellbeing. That’s not all, either. One important component of self care is ensuring that your body is getting what it needs – that it’s well exercised and it’s well nourished. As you probably know, these things can have a huge impact on your quality of life.
- You Will Be Able to Take Care of Others Better
A lot of people think that self care is selfish, but that is most certainly not the case. If you are looking after yourself then it means that you are in a better position to look after others. You can easily get burned out if you spend all of your time just taking care of everyone else. You will feel better when you practice self care, and as a result you can also look after others more efficiently.
- It Prevents Burnout
When you get to the point where you feel overwhelmed and burnt out in life, it’s a good sign that you need to be practicing self care. If you keep on pushing yourself when you’re at your breaking point, it will have a detrimental effect on your wellbeing. It’s better not to get to this point. Practice self care every day, even if it’s just for a short while. It does a good job of helping you to prevent burnout in future.
- It Helps Your Future Self
We often get stuck in thinking about what works for the here and now, but what about the future you? Practicing self care helps your future self too! It helps to ensure that you feel happier in the future instead of just right now. For instance, doing little things like putting fresh sheets on your bed to return to before you come back from vacation means that you will have less to do when you are tired and jet lagged!
- It Can Be Fun!
People aren’t designed to be constantly on the move. Life is for living, so it’s important to do the things that you enjoy! If you’re not feeling too great, doing an enjoyable activity that relaxes you such as yoga can have a massive impact on your stress levels. You could also do other fun things like running, painting or watching movies. It gives your mind a moment to relax so that you feel more prepared to tackle life’s everyday stressors.
Things To Do For Self Care
So, how do you practice self care? The answer is different for everyone. Even something as simple as sleeping enough and making sure that you eat in a way that nourishes your body can be great for practicing self care. If you’re stuck on what to do to look out for yourself, here are a couple of ideas.
Get Enough Sleep
You heard that right – even just getting enough sleep can be so crucial for self care. If you are well rested and getting high quality sleep, your general wellbeing is sure to improve. Even just getting an extra 60-90 minutes of extra sleep a night can make a tremendous difference.
Sleeping isn’t always easy for everyone, so having a good routine before you go to bed can really help. Make sure that you prioritize your sleep and have a consistent schedule. Set a bedtime for yourself that will allow you to get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep. Try to wake up and go to sleep at similar times each day. You may also find it easier to sleep if you have some exercise during the day, and if you stay away from caffeine before bed. Put your phone aside and do gentle activities to help you to unwind at the end of the day. You will wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated to tackle each day if you make your sleep a priority.
Eating healthy is a crucial element of self care! Your body needs to be well nourished in order for you to feel your best each day. Eating healthy isn’t always the easiest thing to do of course, especially when there are so many advertisements aimed towards getting us to eat things like takeaways all the time.
There are a few things that you can do to improve your diet. First, make sure that your plate is full of nutritious fruits and vegetables. If you are finding the flavors to be boring, add things like spices and herbs to give the meal more zest. Make sure that you have plenty of protein and healthy fats on your plate too. For a snack, you can have some delicious berries or other fruits in the middle of the day. Limit your sugars. You can also eat certain foods that will allow you to sleep better, such as bananas, seeds, whole grain oats and so much more.
Drink Plenty Of Water
You may be wondering why water is on this list. Well, water is important for your self care thanks to all of the benefits that it can bring. If you drink water first thing in the morning, you can expect a boost in energy, better blood flow, and any toxins in your body will be flushed out. Drinking lots of water can even have an impact on your mood.
It’s not always easy to drink plenty of water, so we have a few suggestions! For instance, you can add some berries to your water to make it taste better. You can also get a bottle that has different times on it that will tell you how often you need to be drinking water. If you tend to forget to drink your water then you can even set an alarm on your phone to remind you. Alternatively, you can create treats that have lots of water in them, like popsicles or smoothies. Even things like baths can help to increase your hydration.
Do Something That Makes You Happy
This is probably what most people think of when they think about self care. It’s important to make sure that you take the time to do different things that make you happy. It helps to stave off the burnout, and it’s great to have some time that’s just for you. Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t always need to be productive every minute of the day. Take some time to do the things that you like. This could be something that you’re good at, such as painting or cooking.
It doesn’t have to be something you’re good at, of course. You could sit down and watch a movie or you could watch some TV. Perhaps you like to play video games? Self care can also consist of enjoying a meal with your family or friends, or just going out and enjoying yourself. Basically, just do anything that you find enjoyable that will relax you.
Practice Good Hygiene
When you have good hygiene, it can help to invigorate you. Your hygiene is important for your overall well being, and it can help to minimize your risk of getting sick and contracting medical conditions. Not only that, but it’s good for giving you better self confidence. It’s even good for your relationships with others.
You don’t need to spend hours a day on your hygiene, of course. Just make sure that you’re taking baths and showers on a regular basis, having a good skin care routine, brushing your teeth and anything else that helps you to feel your best. You could have a bath and light some candles for some extra relaxation. There’s actually information to suggest that showering in icy temperatures can release endorphins, which are good for your mental health.
Do A Skin-Care Routine
You should try to make your skin care routine into a time when you can truly pamper yourself. Create a skincare routine that you enjoy that makes you feel good. Don’t just splash your face with water and call it a day unless that’s what you enjoy doing. Take some time to experiment with different products that are good for your skin. This may involve massaging some great moisturizer into your skin, or putting on a face mask every week.
If you have the money then it may also be a good idea to go to the spa every once in a while! Maybe you could get your makeup done by a professional? Just do what you need to do to make yourself feel beautiful. This can be as simple or elaborate as you like.
Clean Up Your Personal Space
Most people don’t enjoy cleaning, but it can actually be quite beneficial for the sake of your mental health and wellbeing. It’s even more important to ensure that your personal space is clean if you are in a job where you need to work from home.
Cleaning up your space can help to reduce your stress and anxiety levels. It can help you to gather our thoughts more easily. Not only that but it can also help you to feel more productive which can help you to get a sense of accomplishment. A clean space is one that almost feels new, and it’s pretty exciting!You may feel more peaceful, focused and inspired when your room is clean.
You don’t need to completely clean your entire house right now though. Simple changes can make a huge difference. This can be as easy as just choosing new spaces for the clutter in your room, or reorganizing your storage areas. It can make a big difference!
Go To The Gym
The gym probably isn’t the first thing that you think about when you think of self care, but exercise is a vital component of a balanced lifestyle. Regular exercise is vital for so many reasons – it helps with our physical health, makes it a lot less likely that we’ll develop health problems in the future and it can also be fantastic for general wellbeing. Exercise can help you to feel strong and accomplished. If you exercise regularly then you are more likely to feel happier.
Of course, the gym isn’t always the best option for some people. In this case, there are other forms of exercise that you can do to fit your circumstances. For instance, you can put a YouTube tutorial on your TV – these can teach you all sorts of things from dancing, to yoga, to kickboxing and anything else in between. You can do it while you are cooking dinner! Alternatively, you can go for a walk with your family or even by yourself. The chances are that you will feel a whole lot better after you have had a little bit of exercise.
Mindfulness isn’t just a popular trend. There are a large number of benefits to practicing mindfulness!
So what exactly is mindfulness? In reality, it’s a form of self care practice in itself. It’s all about learning how to be present in the current moment – being mindful of your situation. Mindfulness can be tied into lots of different things, such as cleaning, listening to music and even walking. It’s most well known for its role in meditation, however.
Mindfulness can be a little bit of a challenge at first. Remember, though, that the goal isn’t to completely eradicate any thoughts from your mind. The goal of mindfulness is acceptance – it’s an understanding that your thoughts are there, but you’re not letting them have any power over you. They are simply mental events that you should acknowledge, then you can later decide what to do with them.
To practice mindfulness, you can use apps such as Headspace to guide you along, or you can use YouTube videos. You don’t need to practice mindfulness for hours a day for it to be effective, either. It can be a habit. For instance, you can start off with 5 minutes a day, then the next week you can build up to 10. You can fit mindfulness around your schedule.
There are numerous benefits of mindfulness, such as better feelings of self worth, confidence and a feeling of calm. It can help you to be more emotionally resilient.
Take A Break From The Internet
Social media and the internet are great for keeping in touch with people but it can also be detrimental to mental health sometimes. It’s easy to compare yourself to people that you see online, and to get bogged down by the world of the internet.
A technology detox every once in a while can do wonders for your mental health. You don’t need to do it for a long time if you don’t want to – you can do it for a couple of days or you can do it for even as long as a year if you want. It depends on what’s best for you. You can do other things instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media. For instance, you could do things like reading or spending time with family in person instead.
There are a number of benefits to detoxing from social media. For starters, there is data to suggest that it can help you to feel more relaxed. It may also help your social life as you may be more likely to prioritize interacting with people in person. You may even sleep better! There are even more benefits than just these too.
Don’t Dwell On The Past
You can’t change things that have already happened. It’s hard not to focus on the things that have happened before – they may be painful to think about, or you may regret making some decisions.The truth is though, dwelling on the past most likely won’t help you in most cases. Learn to let go of the past, and instead try to focus on the things that you can do instead. For instance, if you’ve hurt someone, is there something that you can do to make it right?
It can be hard to let go of painful thoughts, but there are ways to do it. For instance, you can use mindfulness like we have mentioned above. It’s normal to think about the past, but don’t let it consume you. If you are still struggling with thoughts of the past, then it may be helpful to get some further assistance.
Focus On The Positives Rather Than The Negatives
It’s very easy to get bogged down by the negatives in life. Sometimes it’s much easier to focus on the negatives than the positives. The problem is that if you focus too much on the negatives, you are more likely to experience feelings of anxiety and depression, and it can get you into a negative downward spiral that can often be difficult to get out of.
Instead, focus on the good things in life. Is the sun shining? Has something small happened today that you can be grateful for? It may be helpful to leave post-it notes around the house with positive affirmations that you can look at when you are down. Learn to accept the things that you cannot change, and embrace the changes that you can make.
Sometimes it can be difficult to reframe your thinking, especially if you are struggling with your mental health. Don’t be afraid to seek out help if you are struggling.
Go On A Holiday
There’s nothing like a vacation to help you to feel rejuvenated and alive! If you’re feeling a little bogged down by life, it may be time to get online and book a self care holiday for yourself. There are a number of benefits to going on vacation too. For instance, it’s good for your physical health since you have reduced stress levels. It’s good for your mental health, for your relationship with others and it can help you to avoid burnout.
Make sure that you plan your vacation carefully in advance so you can have a stress free time when you are away from home. This includes making sure that your suitcases are packed well in advance and writing a checklist of everything that you need to do before you depart. Make sure that you choose the right location to go to – you may wish to experience life abroad, or you may just want to go on a local holiday where you are camping or visiting the spa. One thing is for sure, you are going to feel much better after a great trip.
Do Some Shopping Therapy
You may not realize it, but doing some shopping therapy can be very good for mental health! This is because you are making decisions about what to buy, and it can help people to feel like they have more control over the things that they do. It sometimes helps people to feel less sad too, since they are treating themselves to nice things. It can help to make you happy.
Of course, it’s not a good idea to shop beyond your means, but you can still enjoy some shopping therapy every once in a while. Make sure that you shop in places that you like. You don’t have to go shopping in person either – you can do it online if you want. Treat yourself!
Get A Massage
Stress can cause a lot of tension in your body, and can sometimes result in things like chronic pain. It’s not fun! You can, however, get a therapeutic massage that can help you to feel more relaxed, and you will likely feel healthier too.
There are a number of benefits to getting a therapeutic massage. For instance, it can help to give you much better circulation. Unsurprisingly, it is good for easing your stress too. It can reduce headaches and anxiety, and it’s a good chance to unwind.
It may be worth booking a professional massage if you have the money for it. This isn’t always an option though, so you could ask someone that you’re close to for a massage instead.
Speak To A Therapist
Mindfulness and self care are great for your wellbeing, but sometimes we just need a little bit of extra help. Life can be difficult, and sometimes it’s hard to feel okay. It’s a good idea to speak to a therapist if you are struggling with your mental health and wellbeing. A therapist can help you to manage difficult thoughts and situations. It can also help you to get things off your chest with an impartial party.
There’s no shame in getting help if you need it, so don’t be afraid to speak to a therapist. Therapists aren’t there to solve your problems, however – they’re there to give you the information and tools that you need in order to better manage your problems. In fact, you don’t actually need to have a mental health concern in order to get help from a therapist. Everyone can benefit from speaking to a therapist.
Don’t Isolate Yourself
Social interaction can have a huge impact on your wellbeing, even if you’re an introvert. When you’re struggling with things in life, it can often be tempting to isolate yourself and keep people at arm’s length, but there are a number of benefits to staying social even when things are getting tough.
For starters, being close to loved ones can help you to feel significantly happier in life. It can help you to reduce your overall stress levels, and thus it minimizes your risk of developing illnesses related to stress. You are less likely to have issues with mental illnesses if you have a good support network, and it may even help you to improve your feelings of self worth. Not to mention that being around people can be fun.
How you socialize is ultimately up to you. You don’t have to go out and drink with friends to have a good social life. You may just want to spend a little bit of time sitting with your family and friends, or perhaps you may choose to go for a walk with a loved one. The main thing is that you aren’t isolating yourself.
As we have established, self care is a vital component of a person’s general sense of wellbeing. It doesn’t need to be complicated, and your self care routine can be whatever you want it to be. One thing is for sure – you’ll never regret practicing self care.