I am sure you have heard of the benefits of self-care. We all have. So, why is it so difficult to do? We all lead busy lives, and taking some me-time usually falls last on our to-do list. But, self-care is incredibly beneficial for your mental health and general well-being.
Though self-care varies from person to person, certain aspects, such as reducing stress, trying to eat better, and getting enough sleep, are vital and are the first steps towards living a healthier life.
Below are five simple tips to help you on your self-care journey.
- Make a sleep routine
Practicing self-care is easier when you create a routine. It prepares you mentally for what you are about to do. Establishing a routine is especially helpful when it dealing with fluctuating bed times. If you find that you have trouble falling asleep, try to create a groove that prepares you for bed. You could try drinking water or reading before bed. I find that dimming the lights works well since it signals your brain to start producing melatonin–the sleep hormone. This tip works great if you spend hours in front of a computer.
- Eat mindfully.
Working out is almost always mentioned in self-care articles, but what you put into your body is equally important. The food you eat not only plays a role in physical fitness, but it also plays a role in your mental health. Believe it or not, there is research linking your gut’s microbiota and mental health. According to an article published in 2017, mental health issues like stress, anxiety, and depression are caused by inflammation of the bowels. If that was not enough evidence of a brain-gut connection, consider the 100 million nerve cells that line your gastrointestinal tract. These cells are in constant communication with your brain. So, be mindful of what you eat. Some foods you can include are: fatty fishes, blueberries, leafy greens, and nuts. Make it your goal to eat to feel better rather than only to look better.
- Create and enforce boundaries.
I feel like there is a misconception about boundaries. Boundaries do not exist to deliberately exclude types of people in your life, though they can certainly end up doing that. Boundaries are there to remind you that you need to take care of yourself first. They serve as guidelines for others and set an example of how others should approach and treat you. A boundary can save you from emotional or mental distress and will eventually help you foster better relationships with yourself and others.
This one is difficult, even for me. Often, I am plugged into my computer or phone, thinking that I am getting work done when, in reality, I am probably not. Usually, I am multitasking and inadvertently increasing my stress, and burning myself out. I am sure I’m not the only one.
If you find yourself spending hours in front of a computer absorbed with “work,” go for a walk, do some yoga, hang out with a pet, water some plants, or get involved in a hobby. Taking a small break can can help you clear your mind and relieve stress.
- Organize, inside and out
Your external space affects your mental one. Researchers have proved that a disorganized home contributes to depression, anxiety, and weight gain, which is why getting organized can help you become a better you.
If you do not know where to start, make three piles: keep, throw away, and donate. As you go through your things, really think about the utility and if it makes you happy (or brings you joy, as Marie Kondo would say). Also, assign specific areas for things. For example, create a place to put your keys or a drawer for papers and important documents. If you have something that you are unsure of, put it in a box, and if you don’t end up using it in six months, throw it out.
Though cleaning out your apartment seems time-consuming, it will save you time overall and improve your mental health.
- Do something you love.
This is a quintessential tenet of self-care. When most people think of self-care, it involves dancing around to Ariana’s new album in your room with a face mask on, or some derivative of that image. It means to have fun. And you should! Self-care is about you, so do something that makes you happy. Obviously, something that does not harm you or others. If that means reading a book, do it! If self-care means waking up at 6 am to go on a run, go for it! The point is to enjoy life! Stop and smell the roses because life is too short.
I hope these points have urged you to start taking better care of yourself. Leave a comment below and let us know which tip you found the most helpful.
BrainyDose. “13 Steps To Self Care – Tips For A Better You.” YouTube, YouTube, 25 Jan. 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=3muz5mg2LP8.
Davis, Tchiki. “Self-Care: 12 Ways to Take Better Care of Yourself.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 28 Dec. 2018, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/click-here-happiness/201812/self-care-12-ways-take-better-care-yourself. m
Deering, Shelby. “Https://Www.healthline.com/Health/Organized-Even-on-Toughest-Mental-Health-Days.” Healthline, 15 Jan. 2019, https://www.healthline.com/health/organized-even-on-toughest-mental-health-days
Kamiya, Atsushi. “The Brain-Gut Connection.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, 2020, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-brain-gut-connection.
Karasik Caroline Shannon-Karasik is a writer and mental health advocate based in Pittsburgh, Caroline Shannon. “25 Little Ways You Can Practice Self-Care Every Day.” Women’s Health, 9 Mar. 2019, www.womenshealthmag.com/health/a24886599/self-care-routine-tips/.
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