Self-care is one of those things that you know you need to stay on top of, but when life gets busy and overwhelming, it’s the first thing to get shoved to the back of your list of priorities. However, doing so can be detrimental to your mental health. Self-care prevents the feeling that makes you want to give up entirely, as well as reduces the negative impact that stress can have on your mind and body. Plus, it’s a good way to refocus, relax, and recharge. Even better, there are simple ways to incorporate self-care into your daily routine.
Work on Saying “No”
We have this innate urge to help others and go above and beyond even though we are stretched to the limit. However, one of the most important aspects of self-care is learning when to simply say “no” and put your needs first. Perhaps you have a lot going on at work, you’re feeling drained, or you feel as though your mind is running a million miles a minute; this is the time when it’s okay to say no. It could mean saying no or asking for help on a work project, turning down plans with family and friends, or turning down requests for commitments in other areas or organizations you are involved with. Keep in mind that if you’ve already said “yes,” it’s okay to reverse your answer. There’s nothing wrong with canceling plans to prioritize your self-care or admitting to a co-worker or boss that after much thought, you have too much on your plate to give 100 percent at this time.
Cleaning may seem like more of a chore than an act of self-care, but don’t write it off yet. A clean home has a long list of mental and physical health benefits, from stress reduction to reduced allergy symptoms. Little things, like less clutter and clean indoor air, have more impact on your well-being than you probably realize. So, in addition to your daily tidying, consider hiring a maid service to come deep clean once a month. Before you hire, be sure to ask a friend or use online review sites to find a trustworthy, capable service near you. You may also want to invest in an air purifier to remove toxins from the air you and your family breathe. Use an online buying guide to compare units based on type, features, and price before you buy.
Spend Time with Your Pet
Chances are, you probably already have a really good stress reliever (and four-legged therapist) living under your roof. Most dog owners understand that their pooch can help alleviate stress and anxiety like no one else, so why not take advantage of it? If you’re feeling a little out of sorts and need to unwind, take some time to hang out with your dog. Not only will you feel better for it, but you’ll also strengthen the bond between you and your best friend.
Go to Bed
How important can sleep really be? Sure, if you don’t get enough, you feel cranky and irritable, but what’s the big deal? Well, you might not realize just how hard your brain works while you are snoozing. While you sleep, your brain works overtime to sift through memories, including emotional, procedural (how to tie your shoes), and declarative memories (what you had for dinner). In addition, sleep enables your brain to perform housekeeping and flush your brain of toxins. All this has you thinking about how important sleep is, but what if you just can’t drift off to sleep at night? Consider whether your mattress could be the culprit (if it’s been between seven and 10 years since you’ve purchased a new one, it might be time to do so), as well as your curtains, bedding, and even the temperature of the room. Take a look at your habits as well. Caffeinated drinks before bed are a bad idea, as well as watching TV or playing with your phone, as the blue light tricks your brain into thinking it’s time to wake up.
As we get older, it becomes all too easy to let friends and family become distant. However, according to the New York Times, the “emotional support provided by social connections helps to reduce the damaging effects of stress.” Socializing with others can also reduce feelings of anxiety and loneliness, and well as improve your self-esteem and give you a support system to turn to when life gets tough. These connections give you a sense of purpose and can be helpful in all areas of your life, including personal and professional. It never hurts to have someone in your corner to lend a helping hand or a listening ear.
Work Your Body and Your Brain
When you think about the benefits of regular exercise, your mind likely goes to the physical benefits such as strength, weight management, and heart health. What you might not realize is that exercise is the key to your mental health too. Once you get moving, your brain releases feel-good endorphins, giving you a sense of happiness and alleviating feelings of stress and anxiety. The accompanying energy boost can be exactly what you need to power through the day and get more done. Sweating it out will also be helpful if you struggle to fall asleep at night, putting you in a tired, yet relaxed state.
By making self-care a priority, you are making yourself a priority, including your mental health. You might be running low on free time, but self-care doesn’t require a lot. There are many overlooked ways to put yourself first, such as saying “no,” getting enough sleep, socializing with others, and exercising. Once you get in the habit, it’ll be as easy as breathing.