Do you ever forget to take care of yourself? In theory, self-care sounds like a really great idea. In reality, it can be difficult to practice. In today’s constantly connected world, it’s tough to find time to be kind to yourself. But if you don’t, it won’t be long before you become exhausted and completely burn out.
Self-care requires just as much work as, well, work. You need to set aside the time, put it on your schedule, and make sure it happens no matter what. It’s probably not going to be easy (growth never is), but with a little patience and persistence, self-kindness will become a life-changing habit you’ll be glad to keep.
Here are four small acts of self-care you can start working on today to help keep your mind and body healthy:
Keep A Gratitude Journal
At the end of the day, it can be tempting to think about all the things that went wrong: You missed a deadline at work. Your co-workers didn’t invite you out for lunch. Your son failed his math test. The dog puked on the rug (again). But it is a well-known fact that what you think directly influences how you feel and behave. In other words, if you think your life is awful, it will be.
Instead of dwelling on the negatives in life, why not concentrate on the positives? Keeping a gratitude journal has been proven to improve your mental well-being. On the simplest level, it involves quickly jotting down all of the GOOD things that happened during your day – but you can go into as much detail as you want to. The great thing is, it’s a really easy habit to pick up and it’ll quickly improve self-esteem and increase positivity.
Read Dor Pleasure
When was the last time you read something for fun? You probably read all day long for work, right? Whether it’s industry reports or just emails from co-workers, it can get mundane and boring, and leave you feeling mentally drained at the end.
Imagine instead getting home at the end of a long day, running yourself a warm bath, and reading a book you truly enjoy while relaxing in the bubbles. Sound good? Research shows that reading for pleasure comes with a whole slew of benefits, including:
- Lower levels of stress and anxiety
- Reduced risk of Alzheimer’s
- An improved sense of connectedness to the community
- Increased understanding of our own identity
- Improved empathy and world view
Get Enough Sleep
We all know that not sleeping enough, or sleeping poorly, can leave us feeling terrible in the morning. Yet we consistently stay up late, whether we’re working into the wee hours, or simply laying in bed looking at our smartphones.
It’s time to break those terrible habits! Sleep is not only important for physical health (those who don’t sleep enough are at greater risk for heart disease, stroke, obesity, and more), but it’s essential for good mental health, as well. Research shows that 90% of people with depression complain about sleep quality, and poor sleep is even associated with a greater risk of suicide.
On the flip side, those who get plenty of sleep and feel well-rested are better at recognizing social cues and processing emotional information.
Spend Time In Nature
The Japanese have a long-standing tradition they call “Shinrin-Yoku”, or forest bathing. The idea is simple: If a person visits a forest area and walks in a relaxed way, restorative and rejuvenating benefits will be achieved.
Today, many other nations are recognizing the healing benefits of nature. Heading outdoors, even for a short time, can:
- Boost the body’s immune function
- Reduce blood pressure and stress
- Improve mood
- Increase the ability to focus
- Increase energy levels
- Improve sleep
- Increase the overall sense of happiness
Taking care of your basic physical and emotional needs should be your number one priority, no matter what else is going on. If it’s gotten to the point where you can’t even remember the last time you thought about yourself, these points should help you get back on track!
Tell us: Do you practice self-care? What’s your go-to activity?
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