You rush from your first job to your second one. You pick up the kids from soccer practice and hustle to move dinner from the instant pot to the table. By the time you tumble into bed, you realize you haven’t taken a moment to breathe.
Self-care doesn’t happen by accident. If you want to be your happiest and best version of yourself, you need to schedule the time to take care of your body and mind. Your soul can find love and joy in life if you nurture it well.
1. Create a Self Care Routine
People are creatures of habit, and you can use this principle to make self-care easier — build it into your daily routine. When your alarm goes off in the morning, take a few minutes to perform gentle stretches and set positive intentions for your day. Before bedding down at night, write out your to-do list for the following day, and include activities like exercise and eating healthy meals.
Wear a rubber band around your wrist that you can snap to remind you to practice mindfulness throughout your day. Slow down and savor your lunch instead of munching mindlessly at your work desk, and take a different route home to marvel at the scenery. Set a timer on your phone to remind yourself to stand up and stretch each hour and take a few deep breaths to refocus.
2. Learn to Say No
The holidays are here, and this means receiving tons of invitations. However, if having dinner with your abusive uncle triggers traumatic childhood flashbacks, you don’t have to check “yes” on the RSVP. It’s okay to say no to attending events that bring up memories that threaten your mental health.
The same principle applies to the workplace. Yes, you want to tackle tough projects to impress your boss. However, giving a poor performance because you feel overwhelmed can hinder your career progress more than saying, “I’m sorry. I don’t have time to give this project the attention it deserves at this moment.”
3. Feed Yourself Mindfully
Do you eat at your desk every day? Do you have dinner in front of the television? Do you even taste your food?
Nourishing your body is an essential part of self-care. Head to the farmers market on your day off and spend some time prepping healthy meals for the week. Bring back the family mealtime and talk about your day — without the TV in the background. When you eat, take a moment to give mental thanks to the farmers who grew your vegetables and the store clerks who stocked the shelves.
4. Connect With at Least One Person
You have days off to enjoy your friends or family. If you find yourself continually staying in to start on next week’s work or study coursework, you risk burning yourself out quickly.
You tend to isolate yourself when you start feeling overwhelmed. Each day, make a point to reach out to at least one other person. It doesn’t matter if it’s a colleague or a significant other. You score bonus points if you share a deep belly laugh.
5. Make Time for Exercise
Part of self-care involves taking care of your physical health. Don’t think of working out as a chore — find a way of moving your body that you love, such as Zumba or rock climbing. If you’re extroverted, you might welcome the camaraderie of group fitness classes at the gym. If you prefer solo workouts, you might enjoy biking or hiking.
6. Embrace Your Higher Self
You are more than your mind and your body — you are spirit. You don’t have to embrace a religious belief system to practice self-care for your soul. You can reap physical and mental benefits from volunteering, even if you are a confirmed atheist. If you find solace from going to a house of worship, make time for that each week. If not, do something to give back.
7. Keep Your Bedroom Sacred
Everyone needs a sacred space that they can retreat to when the world grows overwhelming. Make your bedroom into this place for yourself. Decorate your room with beloved photographs and memorabilia. Keep electronic devices out of the room and reserve it for sleep and sex. Spray lavender essential oil on your pillow to help ease you into dreamland at day’s end.
Plan Your Day by Prioritizing Self Care
Self-care only happens if you make it a priority. When you add it to your schedule and make it a part of your routine, you reap the mental and physical health benefits. You also enjoy a brighter outlook on life.
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