The word self-care has been trending lately, and for good reason. Taking control of your physical and mental health improves your productivity and your ability to help others.
Still, many of us treat it as an afterthought. It’s something to do if we have time after we’ve checked everything else off our to-do list.
But self-care isn’t an option. It’s a necessity.
Fortunately, it’s not hard to turn it into a habit. We’re going to discuss five simple ways to slide it into your daily schedule.
They’re so easy and effective, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been taking better care of yourself all along!
1. Improve Your Sleep Quality
It’s hard to add more sleep into your already long days and hectic nights. Sometimes we count ourselves lucky if we can squeeze in five or six hours. But we all know how important sleep is to recharge our bodies, and it’s the essential step to better self-care.
There’s a trick, though:
Instead of trying to get more sleep, work on getting better quality sleep. You don’t have to cut tasks out of your to-do list to make room for more Z’s.
How to Get Better Sleep
If you’re one of the millions of people who toss and turn all night or wake up feeling like you never slept, try these tips to get restful slumber:
Stick to a Bedtime Schedule
Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. Avoid the snooze button.
Limit Your Light Exposure Before Bed
Turn off those cold, white lights after dinner. Use natural light or dimming bulbs when you can.
Turn off all your electronic devices at least one hour before you lay down to sleep. Yes, this includes the TV. Find another way to unwind from the day. Your body will thank you for the better self-care. you are providing!
Eat Well and Exercise
Take care of your health during the day. The things you do and eat can impact your ability to sleep.
Try to exercise at least twenty minutes a day. Avoid all caffeine after lunchtime, including chocolate.
If you’re an evening toddy drinker, consider skipping this habit in favor of better sleep. Alcohol makes you drowsy, but it also kicks your brain into gear in the middle of the night.
The key is to follow these tips consistently. If you’re still tired or unable to sleep after a week or two, check with your doctor to see how they can help.
2. Just Say No to Stressors
Stress is a part of life. But if there are things that stress you out regularly, you can take steps to avoid them.
Think about the things you do every day. Is there anything in your daily routine that you dread? Is there a way you can delegate these tasks to someone else or get out of doing them?
Practice saying no to new responsibilities when you know you’re already behind. You may not be able to do this immediately, and that’s okay.
Instead, take small steps towards the goal of eliminating things that stress you out. This gives you something to look forward to, and your day will slowly start to feel more manageable.
Meanwhile, there are probably things that consistently drain your energy. Watching the news and mindlessly scrolling on your phone are two of the most common today.
Put away your electronics, turn off the news, and limit your time on social media. Learn what your triggers are and actively work to avoid them for better self-care.
3. Do a Good Deed Every Day
If you really want to make yourself feel good, do something nice for someone else. As the saying goes, “‘Tis better to give than to receive.”
There’s a reason random acts of kindness are so popular. Seeing the look of happiness on someone else’s face is a reward in itself.
Every day, find a way to do a good deed. Pay for someone else’s meal in the drive-thru line. Stop safely on the road to let the turtle cross. Donate to a reputable charity. There’s no shortage of ways to spread joy!
If you can help it, don’t tell anyone what you did. Keep that knowledge to yourself — it has more power that way.
4. Stay in the Moment
Part of better self-care is knowing when to be kind to yourself and when to push yourself a little harder. Depression and anxiety happen when you stress too much about past situations or potential future events.
If the problem doesn’t need to be dealt with immediately, stay in the moment.
Find ways to be present and happy in your current situation. If you notice yourself floating toward anxious thoughts, find ways to ground yourself where you’re at.
Here are a few ways to do this:
- Focus on what you’re doing, step by step, and talk yourself through it.
- Look for things to be grateful for, such as your breath or the loved one next to you.
- Rearrange your day to include something you enjoy.
- Try to replace your negative thoughts with positive ones.
- Meditate, especially in the morning or before bed.
Mindfulness, or living in the moment, is a habit that must be nurtured and cultivated. Keep practicing, and it will soon come naturally.
5. Take a Break!
You don’t need to take a long trip to practice better self-care (although it doesn’t hurt). A small break from your typical day gives you a chance to regroup.
Something as simple as lunch with a friend might be all the break you need. Or, plan a vacation and take time each week to research things you want to do when you’re there. Take a break from reality and get excited about your trip!
It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you’re happy when you do it.
Find ways to break up your monotonous routine. Take stretch breaks or spend a few minutes outside in the fresh air on workdays. The point is to make sure you take a few minutes to do something enjoyable every day.
Self-care isn’t something to do when you have extra time. It’s as essential as eating and should become just as much of a habit.
You eat to live, and you practice self-care to live well. These five tips will help you care for your mental health and physical wellness every single day.
Angus Flynn is the Business Manager of Arte, a luxury apartment community in Rancho Cucamonga, CA.