Self-care is an all-encompassing term that we tend to hear a lot, but what actually is self care, and why is it important?
Self-care means taking care of your body, mind, and soul - every day, not just when you’re feeling run down. This can include eating healthy, doing positive activities, and taking some time out for yourself, in order to stay happy and healthy.
Sounds easy enough right?
However, it’s not always as straightforward as it seems. Take into account our busy lives, working hours, and all those daily tasks we need to do, and it can be hard to find some time for yourself. Self-care activities are usually the first to go off the agenda when we’re busy, and sometimes we even can feel guilty for taking time for ourselves. However, there are some easy ways to incorporate self-care into your day to day life to ensure you’re getting the ‘me time’ you deserve.
Get Enough Sleep
We’ve all had those days where we just didn’t get enough sleep, and it impacts us negatively. Sleep has a huge effect on both your mental and physical states, and not getting enough can actually cause health issues
In order to get enough sleep, start thinking of it as self-care, rather than a necessity. Try not to eat or drink much caffeine or sugar in the evening, to get yourself ready to fall asleep easy. You can also add in something that de-stresses you before bed, so you’re not lying down with racing thoughts or anxiety. Finally, make your sleep space distraction-free, removing electronics, so your bedroom is dedicated to getting a good night's sleep.
Exercise is good for your body, but also your mental state as well. Working out can improve your mood and help to reduce depression and anxiety, as well as improve your confidence. You’re probably going to find it hard to hit the gym every day, but things like walking, yoga, or at-home workouts may be easier to fit into your day to day schedule. Try to create a routine that works best for you, for the best results.
What we put inside our bodies has a huge impact on our health. Our food can either keep us healthy and happy or cause us to weight gain and contribute to diseases and health issues. Eating well can also help to keep your mind active and alert. Healthy food not only makes our bodies feel good but helps to reduce long-term issues in the brain like memory loss. That’s not to say we should only eat healthy foods all the time - treats are important too! Eating well for self-care consists of a healthy balance, and listening to your body.
One way you can start to eat healthier is to take the time to cook yourself a meal every now and again. When you make something from scratch, you’re more aware of the nutrients and ingredients that are going into your food, and you’re more likely to make healthier choices.
Learn to Say No
Saying no to others can be hard, especially when we’re used to trying to please other people. You might feel like you have to help when people ask for your time, but if you’re stressed out or busy, saying yes to people can actually lead to you feeling worse, burnt out, or anxious. Setting boundaries and saying no when you can’t be there for others is a key practice in self-care, and it will help you claw a little ‘you-time’ back into your life.
Take a Trip
This one might take a little planning, but finding the time to get away for even a day can make a big difference, and is a great way to indulge in some self-care. Solo travel can aid you in disconnecting yourself from your day to day stresses and relax. Try to take some time from your busy schedule and just do the things you want to do for a day.
Something as simple as going for a quick walk outside is the best form of self-care. Being outside can help you to reduce stress, and fatigue, making it a perfect way to combat depression. Getting outdoors can help you to improve your sleep, as well as help you be more mindful.
Spend Time with Animals
One of the cutest forms of self-care is spending time with a pet. It’s no question that animals can bring a boost to our days, with studies showing that people suffering from conditions like PTSD and depression improved after spending time with service animals. Pets like cats and dogs can also help to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as provide us with unconditional love!
Organize your Self-Care
When we feel stressed out and overwhelmed, it’s hard to find time for self-care. Getting organized is a key step in taking care of your life and becoming healthier. Small steps, like keeping a diary or a calendar can immediately help you feel less stressed, by writing down your daily routine and responsibilities, and will help you identify your free time where you can do things for yourself. Scheduling in this self-care time will help you stick to your plan and actually take some time to yourself, instead of telling yourself you’re too busy.
This could be something as simple as scheduling in an extra 10 minutes before you go to bed to read a book, or fitting in a quick yoga practice when you wake up - or you might decide to dedicate an entire day to yourself.
Want to get in on the self-care? This week's classes encourage you to be gentle and take it easy with yourself. It's okay to be lazy AND still get your yoga in. This week's classes will help you be gentle and nurturing towards yourself, while still practicing, instead of needing to push and force all the time.
By Amy Cavill
1. Jackie Casal Mahrou - Gentle Hatha Yoga: Journey Inward
2. Caitlin Rose Kenney - Full Body Gentle Flow
3. Dana Smith - Lazy Day Yoga
4. Channing Grivas - Super Lazy Restorative
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