Easy Ways to Practice Self Care
I’m the type of person that has half a dozen projects going at the same time. But sometimes I have to take a break and say, “I need to take care of myself.”
A lot of times we make sure everyone around us is fine; coworkers, family members, friends, and neighbors may depend on the work we do. But you need to look out for yourself.
On airplanes, they instruct you that if oxygen masks come down, put yours on before helping anyone else.
It sounds counter-intuitive: in a crisis, we want to help others. But without oxygen, our brains shut down, and we may lose consciousness quickly. By putting our own mask on first, we ensure that we’re in the best shape to help others.
Life in general works the same way. Before we can help others, we need to make sure we’re okay.
Practicing self-care doesn’t mean you’ll never get sick or overwhelmed. However, it can help boost your mood, reduce stress, and focus on your goals. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Exercise is good for your body and your mind, and can help ease depression and anxiety.
At least thirty minutes of exercise three times a week is recommended for best results. However, even smaller amounts of exercise can help your health. Some ideas to get started: take a short walk on your lunch break, or join a fitness class.
When I take long walks, I find I can think more clearly after. I can work through mental problems, and plan out the rest of my week.
I have journaled off and on since I was a kid, when a family member gave me a notebook with a tiny lock. Nowadays, I keep a note app in my phone. I jot down dreams, thoughts, plans, and quotes.
You don’t have to journal every day, but when you get the itch, write. One idea is to write down events you want to remember, or record your progress toward a goal. Smartphones and apps make this easy, but paper notebooks never run out of batteries.
Sleep is perhaps the most important part of self-care. You can’t get much done if you’re exhausted. Sleep is important for your mood, and makes you feel recharged.
Most research suggests sleeping 7–8 hours a night, but everyone requires a different amount, depending on factors like your age or lifestyle.
While there are some situations that will lead you to lose sleep — like shift work, or caring for a new baby — most people can improve their levels of sleep by turning off lights and electronic devices for a little while before they go to bed.
I set my phone to automatically turn to “Do Not Disturb” mode at 11pm. It will only ring if I get calls from select family members (who wouldn’t call me that late unless it was a true emergency) or if someone calls multiple times.
If you still have trouble sleeping, talk to a doctor about options.
It’s helpful to hear from friends or family or see their pictures, but if you just find yourself scrolling endlessly or constantly checking social media notifications, it may be time to unplug.
Social media use has been linked to stress and depression — both increasing it and reducing it. So use it carefully. It’s made to be addictive, so that you keep checking it.
I took some social media apps off my phone and only log in on occasion. Others I still use daily, but the benefits of checking in with friends make it worth it for me.
Self-care doesn’t mean you have to do it all yourself. The above tips are just a launching point.
If you’re still feeling stressed, reach out to a doctor or therapist to help identify what’s causing it and develop a treatment plan. Medications may also be helpful if your mood doesn’t improve or worsens.
Essentially, make it a priority to take care of yourself.