6 Simple Steps to Better Self-Care

One rising trend we can get behind is the prioritization of self-care! Rather than paying attention to your health needs solely when you’re feeling under the weather, you should be taking care of your physical and mental health on a daily basis. After all, most occasions where we feel unwell are due to an accumulation of various factors: stress, lack of sleep, improper diet, etc. 

With work, family and loved ones, social life, and self-care, it can often feel like a “you can only pick two” situation. However, practicing self-care doesn’t necessarily have to break the bank or require a total lifestyle overhaul. 

While there are several ways to engage in self-care, you can start with these simple steps towards a happier, healthier lifestyle.

1. Start with Sleep

 

woman sleeping on bed

 

There’s no better way to start a day than to be well-rested. If you’ve ever woken up after a poor night’s sleep and everything felt like it was going wrong, we can definitely relate. 

A good night of sleep offers a host of benefits, such as [1]:

  • Improved performance, productivity, and cognition
  • Decreased risk of weight gain
  • Enhanced calorie regulation
  • Better athletic performance
  • Boosted immune system function
  • Lowered risk of heart disease
  • Greater social and emotional intelligence
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Lower risk of depression onset

For those who find falling asleep difficult, consider creating a routine to unwind. Whether that’s lighting some candles or putting your phone away a half hour before, some allocated self-care time can help signal your body that it’s time to power down. 

2. Get Some Sun

Have you ever taken a look at your smartphone’s data on screen time? This can be a great reminder that we are often guilty of spending too much time staring at screens, as opposed to out our windows. 

Getting into the great outdoors has actual health benefits. Moms were right (as they often are)! One study in the United Kingdom evaluated over 19,000 people and discovered those who spent at least two hours in nature each week experienced a boost in mental and physical health, compared to their counterparts who spent no time in nature [2]. 

 

2 people riding bikes at park

 

Another study showed that those who spent as little as five minutes in nature still reported a hike in mood and self-esteem [3]. You don’t have to commit to a mountain trek. It can be as easy as slapping on a hat, sunscreen, and:

  • Walking the dog
  • Strolling around the park
  • Enjoying a picnic 
  • Venturing on a weekly hike
  • Bird-watching in the morning
  • Feeding ducks at a pond

3. Ensure You’re Eating a Balanced Diet

Don’t worry! No one’s coming to take that pint of ice cream away from you. However, more research continues to show that there is a link between gut health and happiness. An unbalanced, unhappy gut has been linked to several mental illnesses, in addition to gastrointestinal disorders [4].

What you choose to nourish your body with really does have an impact that goes beyond a bad decision and a stomachache. As you prepare your next meals, consider whether you are eating a balanced diet that includes the nutritional essentials. 

Eating well also means eating enough. Rather than a directive to cut calories and reduce portion sizes, this is a simple reminder to make sure your body is getting what it needs to function properly and keep you happy in the long run!

4. Minding What’s on Your Mind

Mental self-care can be divided into two categories: stimulation and wellness. The former means maintaining your brain function. Whether that looks like puzzles, reading, or learning a new skill or language, our brains need exercise just like our bodies! Physical activity also provides physical benefits to your brain. All of these activities can help boost memory, concentration, and keep you sharp as you age [5].

Mental wellness, on the other hand, is directed within, requiring reflection to engage in self-acceptance, self-compassion, and the processing of emotions. Speaking with a friend, loved one, or even journaling can help. After all, unloading mental stress can provide just as much relief as releasing physical weight.

Please note that mental wellness can be difficult to deal with alone, and seeking professional help is not only acceptable but something that should be celebrated. Congratulations to you for seeking ways to better yourself!

5. Just Say No

 

woman standing with arms out in sun, holding a face mask

 

This is a simple but life-changing step. Someone asks you to do something during your pre-planned self-care Sunday? Just say no. Your boss requests that you take on additional weekend shifts? You know what to say. Knowing your threshold is a crucial step toward prioritizing yourself!

We shouldn’t glamorize being overwhelmed and overworked or simply be afraid to say no. Rather, we should prize ourselves, our wellness, and our work-life balance.

6. Say Sayonara and Pack a Bag

Yes, we mean it’s time for a getaway (not to run away)! Taking a step back can be a great way to recalibrate and view the bigger picture. Once you find yourself in a new environment, it can force you to re-evaluate yourself, your behavior, and desires when elements of your daily life are removed. 

The scale of the trip is entirely up to you. Whether you want to head to Honduras or simply take a self-care day to get a much-needed haircut, a change of pace from your regular routine can make a world of a difference. 

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Like much of life, actions have to be tailored to individual needs and resources. At the end of the day, these suggestions are intended to get you to embark on a lifelong journey of wellness and happiness. Caring for yourself is up to you, so what’s going to be your first step?

 

image of feet walking away from camera

 

 

 

SOURCES

[1] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325353#preventing-depression 

[2] https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-44097-3

[3]https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jules-Pretty/publication/42587600_What_is_the_Best_Dose_of_Nature_and_Green_Exercise_for_Improving_Mental_Health_A_Multi-Study_Analysis/links/5a7ecff44585154d57d5ed37/What-is-the-Best-Dose-of-Nature-and-Green-Exercise-for-Improving-Mental-Health-A-Multi-Study-Analysis.pdf 

[4] https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5641835/&sa=D&source=editors&ust=1616521522632000&usg=AOvVaw02SVi3mFWVdlQIeD2K9XKB 

[5] https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/brain-exercises