By David Saunders | UPDATED: 05:28, 20 January 2020
Self-care is an activity that we do purposely in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. It can induce positive feelings as well as increase productivity and can be anything from going for a walk, to reading a book in a bubble bath, to spending time with loved ones.
However, practising self-care isn’t as easy as it sounds. It can be difficult to differentiate self-care with selfishness or self-indulgence and can lead to feeling guilty about taking some time out for yourself. It involves prioritising yourself which may also involve taking time away from other commitments such as work or family and friends.
With the everyday stresses of everyday life, it’s easy to cancel that gym class or spend extra time at work and put off self-care. It’s important to remember that lack of self-care can result in low energy and concentration levels. In fact, it can eventually lead to burnout so it’s important to recognise the signs that you can follow to allow yourself to indulge in some me time and recharge.
Here are our top tips for self-care:
Most people need around 7-8 hours of quality sleep to function well, so this should be a priority. Not getting enough sleep can leave you feeling sluggish in the morning and can affect concentration levels and decision making. Try to get into a routine of going to sleep at the same time and not looking at your phone at least an hour beforehand.
Schedule some time for yourself
This sounds simple enough but it’s easy to give up our personal needs for another commitment. Make sure you stick to your planned me-time like an appointment you need to commit to. Book a massage or even a holiday away where you can de-stress and focus solely on yourself.
Just say no
It’s easy to get carried away with trying to please everyone by overextending yourself. Whether it be a work commitment or social plans with friends and family, you’re the only one who truly knows how you’re feeling and it’s important to take a break when you feel you need it.
Put your phone away for a few hours or even longer if you can. We’ve become a lot more dependent on our phones where we can unconsciously browse for hours on end. Being attached to our digital devices can leave our minds feeling overwhelmed and overstimulated.
Eat and drink properly
When you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, it can be easy to binge drink or overindulge in comfort foods, but this only offers temporary relief which can eventually lead to obesity or addiction. Avoid emotional eating and drink lots of water and incorporate your 5 fruit and vegetables a day into your meals.
Exercise releases endorphins and can help to relieve stress, clear your mind and boost energy levels. It doesn’t necessarily have to be intense sessions at the gym but just a 30-minute walk or light jog can improve your mental health, as well as lower the risks of critical health conditions.
Take 5 minutes out of your day to close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Experience the moment and be mindful of your surroundings, the smells around you and the sounds you hear. Meditation can have great benefits to mental health with effects such as increased awareness, clarity and a sense of calm with apps such as Headspace being available to help teach life-changing mindfulness skills in just a few minutes a day.
Spend time with loved ones
It’s easy to neglect relationships when life gets busy but it’s important to maintain relationships with the people who are adding value and positive energy to your life.
Laughter is truly the best medicine and who better to laugh with than your friends and family. It’s also good to be able to talk to someone if you’re feeling down or stressed – after all, a problem shared is a problem halved.