By Daniela McVicker
The importance of self-care
Modern life seems to perpetually stack too much on our plates. There’s work, friends, family, and all those other things that make up our personal microcosms. At times, it feels like we don’t have enough hours in the day for it all. When obligations take precedence, we cut out all the things that give us joy, so we can fit the rest in. Saying goodbye to those smaller, happier moments in our lives is something that can catch up with us in the long run.
Self-care is learning to prioritize small and happy moments to improve your quality of life. Unfortunately, it usually takes a while before people realize that they need self-care. Turning to self-care often happens when they are already run down. The truth is that anytime is a good time to start taking better care of yourself. You don’t need to be on the brink of burnout to incorporate self-care into your life.
In a world that prioritizes productivity and results, it’s important not to feel guilty about your self-care routine. Focusing on your self-care is not selfish. In fact, self-care will allow you to help others more because you are healthier and happier. You simply can’t help others when you aren’t able to help yourself. Finding the perfect balance of self-care activities is something that you’ll need to work towards.
Be sure to take time to check in with yourself about what you personally need. What works for one person doesn’t always work for another. Reflect on yourself, and the kinds of things that trigger your stress or anxiety. Your self-care routine should work to minimize your stress and help you stay grounded. While developing your routine, here are some important things to incorporate.
Make time for yourself
This step may be the most difficult, but it’s also the most important. If you have a family or a demanding job, you may find it hard to set some time aside for yourself. Although, when you are finally able to, you’ll certainly appreciate it. Giving yourself some alone time will allow you to breathe, relax and take a step back from your busy life. This time will provide you with the opportunity to reflect on what is helping or hurting you at the moment.
Use this time to do the things that you like. You can read, listen to music, play video games, watch your favorite TV show, paint, draw or write. The choice is entirely yours. Dedicate time to things that you don’t usually get to do, but enjoy. Spending as little as fifteen minutes a day doing these activities can help boost your morale.
When making time for yourself, always try to have some kind of schedule. It doesn’t have to be exact, just be sure it’s regular enough for you to benefit from it. If you can keep up with your “me time,” you’ll notice a big difference in your attitude and the way you come across to others. Relaxing activities like taking a hot bath or drinking a nice cup of tea are some self-care favorites. Find whatever relaxing activity is best for you and try to include it in your routine.
Keep in mind that your “me time” can also be with friends. If you have good friends that make you smile and help you feel better, make time with them for self-care. Sometimes being with people who make us laugh can be just the right ticket to happiness. As long as what you are doing is helping you feel relaxed and grounded, it is beneficial to your self-care ritual. Be open-minded and continually take time to evaluate your routine to see if it’s benefitting you or not.
Say ‘no’ more
While it can make you feel good to help others, you may not always be able to. If you are juggling a lot of things, it’s important to try and unload yourself before taking on more responsibilities. This can even mean social responsibilities. If you don’t feel like going out for drinks because you’re exhausted, then don’t. Your friends should understand. If they don’t, simply explain to them that you are practicing better self-care.
Although, you shouldn’t have to explain yourself to anyone. Saying ‘no’ to people is a challenging but essential step in your self-care evolution. When you are operating at your maximum, it can be easy to burn out. Not to mention, you may become extremely anxious and irritable. Avoid turning into your worst self and start turning down offers.
Saying ‘no’ at work can be difficult, but it’s doable. Speak to your supervisor about your workload. Your supervisor should realize that you will be more valuable to the company in good health. Avoid stress and people who trigger that stress. Do your best to resolve any issues or disagreements you may have with colleagues.
When you’re at home, learning to say ‘no’ can help you relax better. Avoid things that trigger your stress, even if that may be visiting your family. Try to take breaks from your technology. Working at the computer or scrolling through the feed on your mobile phone may increase your anxiety. Once you start saying ‘no’ to things, it will get easier as you go along.
Getting a good night’s rest sets your self-care foundation. Lack of sleep can affect you both physically and emotionally. You are much more likely to feel irritable and anxious if you aren’t well-rested. Sleep is your body’s chance to refresh and your mind’s opportunity to disconnect. When you don’t get enough rest and good sleep you will feel like you’re always in a fog.
Not to mention, burning the candle at both ends will make you feel genuinely exhausted. If you are going to bed late and getting up early, you aren’t giving your body time to recharge. Develop a sleep routine for yourself and stick to it. Do your best to go to sleep at the same time every night. Once your body gets into the rhythm, falling asleep and staying asleep will be much easier.
Pay attention to what you consume before going to bed. Avoid any stimulants like caffeine or sugar as they will keep you up at night. Also, try your hardest to avoid using technology in bed. When using your mobile phone or computer in bed, the backlit background will confuse your brain into staying alert. Ensure that your bedroom is free of distractions.
The best way to help you get to sleep easier is to make sure your bedroom is comfortable. Your brain should think that your bedroom is just for sleeping. Always us clean sheets and consider apply lavender oil to your pillow. Minimize the amount of light that enters your room by drawing the shades. When you get consistently great sleep, you will be grateful for all those little changes you made.
Doing exercise is a great way to make yourself feel better. By getting your blood pumping, you will release endorphins and start to feel better almost instantly. Not only will this improve your mood, but it will also reduce your anxiety. Getting active can help you feel better both mentally and physically. You may even get in shape and lose some weight along the way.
Your level of activity is totally customizable. Something as simple as doing stretches when you wake up can help you feel better. If you prefer to be outside, opt for a nice walk in the park. Taking up yoga is also a good option. Yoga helps people perfect their breathing which is a useful skill for calming down. Additionally, it also provides you time to meditate and be mindful.
Other types of fitness activities like kickboxing or aerobics might be better if you prefer to break a sweat. Taking dance classes can also be a fun way for you to work out and strengthen your body. Dancing is also something that you can do with a partner or with a group. Group activities will help you feel a sense of community. Consider joining a softball or kickball team to make friends and stay active.
Whichever way you choose to get active is up to you. The most important thing is that it be sustainable. Be honest with yourself about what you are willing to commit to. Don’t just take up an activity because you have to; do it because you genuinely want to. When you find an activity that really clicks with you, you will feel invigorated and empowered.
You may have heard that your diet can affect your health. Well, it’s the absolute truth. As the old saying goes, you are what you eat. A diet that is full of processed, fatty food can be detrimental to your mental and physical health. Take a look inside your fridge and ask yourself if that food is providing you with plenty of vitamins.
A suitable diet has various components. One thing to strive for is omega-3 fatty acids, like those in fish. It’s scientifically proven that these fatty acids can help fight depression and anxiety. Therefore, incorporating them into your diet is a strategic self-care tactic. If you’re not a fan of fish, try flaxseed or flaxseed oil.
Fruits like blueberries are considered ‘superfoods’ that help boost brain function and can even improve your memory. Leafy green vegetables can help increase your energy levels and improve digestion. Nuts like almonds and pistachios can help reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol. Eating nutrient-rich foods is an easy way to give your body the help it needs. Looking after your body is a great way to look after yourself.
Also, remember to drink plenty of water. Proper hydration can help you feel better and reduce headaches. Your skin may also improve, too. Remember to put your body’s needs first. Although, no one is perfect and it’s okay to have a slip up now and then, remember that health is wealth.
Keep in mind that there isn’t a self-care manual you need to follow. All that you should focus on is sprinkling in small things that make you feel better. We all have different tastes, so what makes one person ecstatic might stress another out. Acknowledge that and allow yourself room for testing self-care rituals. While consistency is preferable, surprising yourself with something now and then can be lovely, too.
If you feel up to splurge, you can book yourself a relaxing massage or buy yourself a fancy dessert. However, take care not to treat yourself too much. A healthy diet is a cornerstone of self-care. Make sure that you are eating well, getting your vitamins and staying hydrated. These small steps will have a significant effect on the way you feel and carry yourself.
It’s the little things that really count when it comes to self-care. Lighting candles or using diffusing oils are more subtle ways to promote a positive self-care environment. Taking time to meditate or do yoga can help you appreciate your body and feel more grounded. Getting active on your own or with others will help you keep your body engaged and make you feel better. Do your research and find out which activity is best suited to your personality.
Of course, being active is important but getting your rest will set the pace for your entire self-care routine. Focus on catching your z’s and make it a priority. Adopt the habit of taking breaks from technology, especially at bedtime. Also, learn to say ‘no’ to people more. When you are worn out or just don’t have enough time, you should be your first concern.
Self-care is all about putting yourself first. Your mental and physical health depends on making time for the things you love to do. Carve out some time for you to regularly relax, express yourself and reflect on your life. No matter what anyone else says, taking this time for yourself is not selfish. Find what makes you happy and go after it for a better life and a better you.
About the Warrior
Daniela McVicker is an editor for Topwritersreview. She is also an experienced writer with a degree in social psychology from Durham University. Daniela is primarily focused on writing about self-improvement. She has authored a number of insightful and motivating articles like “Making The Right Choices Every Day” and “7 Steps To Open Yourself To New Opportunities & Possibilities”.