“Self-care” is a buzzword heard often in conversation lately, but what does it mean? When it comes to self-care, you want to think long-term. What can you do today that will improve your overall well-being tomorrow? Or next week? Or next year? Self-care applies to every area of your life, so your self-care routine should reflect this.
What Your Self-Care Routine Could Look Like
- Get enough sleep.
- Maintain a healthy diet.
- Exercise regularly.
- Identify a support system.
- Keep a journal.
- Manage stress.
Take Care of Your Body
There are many ways to practice physical self-care that go beyond investing in the newest product or adapting the latest healthcare trend. Your self-care strategy should be designed to address your unique lifestyle and personal goals.
Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. If your schedule is irregular, create a sleep schedule to track your hours of rest week over week. For adults, an average of 7-9 hours is recommended. A good night’s sleep has many benefits. It can help improve memory, learning and mental performance, as well as support mental and emotional health and preventing certain diseases.
A healthy diet and regular exercise are also important when it comes to self-care. Your diet impacts the way your brain and body interact as well as the way your body responds to stress. Incorporate as many fruits and vegetables into your diet as possible—about half your daily food intake—and try to never skip breakfast. When it comes to exercise, aim for 30 minutes of physical activity a day. Exercise can improve your mood, boost energy levels, and even help you sleep better.
If you’re struggling to track these things in your life, you may want to check out our piece on health apps. It has suggestions for everything from eating and sleeping to meditation. Speaking of which…
Take Care of Your Mind
Taking care of your innermost self means allowing yourself to feel the full range of human emotion—from happiness to sadness and everything in between.
While that may sound easy enough, you might need some help along the way. That’s where your support system comes in. Identify the friends, family, and co-workers who truly want the best for you—and you for them—and foster those relationships. Research indicates that having a network of supportive relationships increases an individual’s greater sense of well-being, including better overall health and a longer lifespan.
While it’s reassuring to have your support system, it’s also good practice to do some soul-searching on your own. Keep a journal for meaningful reflection, or just to write down three things you’re grateful for each day. Studies shown keeping a journal can help reduce anxiety, relieve stress, increase creativity, and boost self-esteem.
Take Stress Seriously
Chronic stress doesn’t just negatively impact your mood; it’s also linked heart disease and cancer. In fact, 75-90% of visits to a physician’s office are reportedly for stress-related conditions and complaints.
You can manage your response to stress in several ways. First, prevention. Practice setting limits, especially in the workplace. Instead of saying “yes” to every task brought to your attention, say “I’ll get back to you” and then assess if it’s best for you to take on. Guarding your time as a resource allows you to do better work overall without burdening yourself beyond reason. It’s also good practice to schedule in “off time” and take breaks regularly.
If you’re already stressed, you can practice breathing exercises or guided meditation on your own, or take a group class, like yoga. While yoga is a great physical activity, with benefits including better sleep and better digestion, it also helps you maintain a more balanced mental state. Try a few different methods or activities and see what works best for you; but if you’re pressed for time, you can always just find a quiet space and take a few deep breaths.
No two self-care routines are going to look the same. At the end of the day, you want to do whatever is best for you, as long as you make yourself a priority.
NWPC is here to help you on your journey to self-care. With resources, tools, and expert advice, let us help you create your self-care routine and take steps in the right direction.