There are times in all of our lives where we neglect ourselves a little bit. Our busy schedules can get the best of us. We have a lot going on at work, a huge to-do list at home, and there just seems to be no end in sight. So what do we normally do? We skip lunch. We decide not to spend that hour at the gym. Our friend invites us over for dinner and we turn it down. We think cutting out these things will give us more time to strike off items on our to-do list… but really it’s just making things that much more difficult. Stress builds up, fatigue sets in, and then we begin to lose productivity. It can be a very harmful cycle. To prevent this from happening, you need to have a good defense… and that defense is a regular self-care regimen.
So, what is self-care? “It’s about identifying your own needs and taking steps to meet them. It is taking the time to do some of the activities that nurture you. Self care is about taking proper care of yourself and treating yourself as kindly as you treat others.” Being intentional about self-care can help prevent burnout, it reduces the build up of negative stress, and helps you to refocus. So, by taking a step back and focusing on yourself, it can actually help you to be more productive in other areas of your life.
Self-Care Isn’t a One-Time Deal
It’s the repetition of many small habits, which together soothe you and make sure you’re at your best. The best way to do this is to implement small self-care practices every day. Below are possible practices to adopt into everyday life:
Ten ways to practice self-care that focus on the body:
1. Just Breath. Take three deep breaths.
2. Give your body ten minutes of mindful attention.
4. Stretch out the kinks.
5. Excercise! Run or walk for a few minutes.
6. Narrow your food choices. Pick two healthy breakfasts, lunches, and dinners and rotate for the week.
7. Make one small change to your diet for the week. Drink an extra glass of water each day, or have an extra portion of veggies each meal.
8. Be still. Sit somewhere green, and be quiet for a few minutes.
9. Get fifteen minutes of sun.
10. Have a good laugh.
Ten ways to practice self-care that focus on the mind:
1. Start a compliments file. Document the great things people say about you to read later.
2. Unplug. Switch everything to airplane mode and free yourself from the constant push notifications of social media and email.
3. Go cloud-watching. Lie on your back, relax, and watch the sky.
4. Take another route to work. Mixing up your routine in small ways helps keep the brain healthy.
5. Pay complete attention to something you usually do on autopilot, perhaps brushing your teeth, driving, eating, or performing your morning routine.
6. Goof around for a bit. Schedule in five minutes of “play” several times throughout your day.
7. Fix a small annoyance at home that’s been nagging you—a button lost, a drawer that’s stuck, a light bulb that’s gone.
8. Get out of your comfort zone, even if it’s just talking to a stranger in line at the grocery store.
9. Be selfish. Do one thing today just because it makes you happy.
10. Have a good laugh. (This is good for your mind and your body.)