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Go outside and take deep breathing. Feel the air as it enters your body. Take a moment to appreciate your environment. Feel better? Congrats, you’ve just practiced self-care.
Contrary to popular belief, self-care or “me-time” isn’t a luxurious leisure activity that involves lots of resources. It can be as simple as walking your dog in the park, reading your favorite book, or taking a bubble bath.
What is Self-Care?
So, what exactly is self-care? Self-care is a process of purposeful participation in activities that nurture your holistic health. It helps you develop healthy responses and resilience against daily stressful situations. As we live our daily lives with uncertainty, focusing on things that make us feel good is what self-care is all about.
Generally, self-care is any conscious act or practice that boosts your mental, emotional, and physical health.
Prioritizing yourself may seem selfish for some people, but Sociologist Dr. Christine Carter assured you that this isn’t so. When you are well taken care of, you are in a good headspace. Meaning, you are at your best to undertake your responsibilities and nurture your relationships with others.
How to Start a Self-Care Routine
As you turn a new page this new year, now is the best time to establish a self-care routine. Follow these self-care tips and reap the benefits of having a healthy mind and body:
1. Self-care can take shape in many ways and it looks different for everyone. For example, some people find joy and comfort in being alone, but some prefer to be in a large crowd. The point is, for self-care to work its magic, you need to find out what’s best for you. Ask yourself this: What makes me happy?
2. Know your stressors or things that cause you great stress. Is it pressure from school or work? Poor diet? Traffic? Understanding when you usually lose balance prevents you from having a bad day. Furthermore, acknowledging your emotions allows you to be self-aware and respond better to an event or situation.
3. Check your calendar. Create a self-care plan to ensure you allot time for relaxation, even if it's just a short break. This way, you’re being intentional with your “me-time.” Being too busy to have some self-care will not serve your overall wellness.
4 Self-Care Practices To Start The Year Strong
There are myriad ways to practice self-care. If you’re looking for self-care ideas, continue reading to find out what’s best for you and how to incorporate them into your daily routines.
Making Your Own Food
Home cooking, based on a study during the COVID-19 lockdowns, offers happiness, relaxation, and self-enrichment, thus helping improve one’s physical and mental health. According to Dr. Michael Kocet, Professor and Department Chair of the Counselor Education Department at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, the whole process of making food–from preparing the ingredients and equipment to cooking– can be meditative.
When you invite someone to cook or eat with you, cooking acts as a way to strengthen your bond with others– thus giving you a sense of belonging and connectedness. You also don’t need to be a skillful cook to enjoy the art of cooking.
Start simple. The purpose is for you to engage in the act of making something for yourself. If flipping an omelet or perfecting a sunny-side-up egg is hard for you, take this as a challenge to learn something new.
Listing a ‘Don’t-Do’ Items
This practice may sound counterproductive, but self-care isn’t all about the things that you should be doing. Sometimes doing nothing after a productive day is what you need to clear up your mind and restore your energy.
You may list these items in your head, or better yet grab a pen and write a ‘don’t do’ list to help you break out from the unhealthy habits that physically and mentally drain you. These could be drinking too much alcohol, browsing the internet for a long period, or consuming extra sugar.
Constantly reminding yourself of practices that you should avoid allows you to have extra time for things that actually matter, said P.h.D Researcher Anne-Laure Le Cunff.
Practicing emotional self-care or being kind to yourself creates a ripple effect. You’re more capable of treating others with kindness when you appreciate yourself. Take it as a cue to practice positive self-talk, especially if you lack confidence and feel insecure.
Spend quiet alone time and whisper these words: “I am enough. I am getting better and better every day.” It also helps to pat yourself on the back whenever you accomplish something. Research has shown that transforming negative remarks into positive statements has the potential to change how we view ourselves, others, and the circumstances that we face.
Turning Off Your Phone Before Bedtime
Nothing beats a good night’s sleep. Getting enough sleep delivers positive health outcomes like improving your cognitive performance and mental health condition. It reduces stress and puts you in a good mood to help you perform well at work or in school. However, most people in the US alone do not get these health benefits due to inadequate sleep.
Using gadgets before sleeping is one of the reasons for lack of sleep. Electronic devices such as phones, computers, and tablets emit blue light, which interrupts your body’s ability to produce sleep hormones.
Make it a habit to put down your phone an hour before going to bed to get quality zzzs. Instead, do some restful practices during bedtime such as reading books to improve your quality of life.
Doing self-care as a regular habit will benefit you in the long term and help you become a better person. It doesn’t matter what self-care activity you choose from the list above. The important thing is that you enjoy what you do and it nourishes your body, mind, and soul.
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