Self-care is any action a person might take in order to improve and aid their physical and mental health. Being aware of how to practice your own self-care can be an essential part of dealing with other issues such as depression and anxiety, and even just managing the daily pressures of work and home life.
Self-care is about being mindful of and paying attention to your daily needs. It is essential for your mental and physical health to take time for you. Keep reading for some essential self-care tips.
Getting ample sleep is vital – at least 7 to 9 hours every night. Sleep is when our body repairs, rests and rejuvenates itself.
Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule by going to bed at the same time every night. For adults it is recommended to go to bed between 10pm and 11pm and wake no later than 7.30am every day.
Having a bedtime ritual like reading will help get your body get ready for some shut-eye. Exercise and heavy meals should be avoided two to three hours before going to sleep.
2. ASK FOR HELP
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, low, stressed or anxious, reach out and talk about it. Self-care is not selfish.
In some cases, this may include talking to your GP if you're stressed or anxious, or to a trained counsellor. In other cases, it may just be off-loading to your friends or a loved one instead of keeping things to yourself.
3. GET ACTIVE
Getting your heart rate up increases your happy hormones (serotonin, dopamine, etc.), thus improving your mood and feelings of pleasure. Three to four days each week, try to fit in a brisk walk or a quick 30-minute circuit routine. Yoga is also a great way to get your body moving while keeping your mind at ease.
No matter how busy you are, make it a habit to step outside for a breath of fresh air each day. Spending time outside helps you sleep better at night, lowers heart rate, reduces stress levels, boosts mental health and stimulates the immune system.
4. TAKE A BREAK
If you have annual leave days in your job, utilise all of them. If you don’t have that option, take a weekend break. If you’re trying to save, simply spend Saturday doing absolutely nothing. Put your phone on airplane mode, binge watch a show on Netflix or catch up on your reading list. Whatever it is that brings you pleasure, enjoy it, and make no apologies for it.
5. SAY "NO"
Stress is often caused by having too much to do and too little time to do it. To relieve this, reduce your workload, prioritize your to-do list and manage your time more effectively. This requires you to say ‘no’ more often, and that’s ok. Saying no to things when you feel zapped of energy or time isn’t rude, it is self-care.
6. BANISH THE SCREENS
Your bedroom should be a sanctuary - a place you go for sleep and relaxation. Phones, TVs and laptops disturb this sanctuary. Take care of your physical and mental health by giving your brain and eyes a break from your screens before bed and get better sleep as a result.
Clutter increases our cortisol levels (the stress hormone that is a risk factor for many illnesses), reduces creativity and focus, and can even make us more sensitive to pain. Set a timer for just five minutes and get busy getting rid of clutter you don’t need.
Instead of buying more clothes and shoes, go for a coffee with a friend or plan a nice meal. In order to reduce the amount of clutter – and thus stress – you add to your life, stop and count to ten before making a purchase. This way, you don’t get overwhelmed with stuff.