Updated: Jan 18
Exhausted, Uninspired, Or Unwell? If you live this way for too long, your health can begin to suffer – psychologically, physically, and spiritually.
Here's how to rebound.
You may be feeling exhausted, unmotivated, sick, sad, or angry from such a difficult year. Sooner or later, the effects of ignoring self care begin to show up. Unfortunately, some people might feel as though self care is selfish, or an indulgence. But truth be told, if you’re not healthy, you can’t help other people.
Remember: Just as in aviation, you need to put your own oxygen mask on before you can help someone else.
How You Can Practice Self Care
You've decided to start practicing self care, so where do you start? How do you make the time for self care? What is self care?
The best part about self-care behaviors is that you can do most of them anywhere at any time – sometimes, in mere minutes.
Let’s explore some simple best self-care practices to recharge your body, mind, and soul. Here’s a cheat sheet. Aim to pick one thing from each category each day.
Self-Care Ideas For The Body
Drink a big glass of water first thing in the morning – Many people wake up dehydrated, and dehydration can make you feel sluggish and cranky. Dehydration can also make your skin look older than it really is.
Start the day with a good breakfast – A good breakfast sets you up with energy for the day ahead. If you can incorporate a little protein and a few carbs (rather than sugary pastries or cereals), you’ll be starting the day with your best foot forward.
Exercise for 30 minutes a day – One of the highest leverage things you can do for your health is to exercise. The American Heart Association recommends 2.5 hours of heart-pumping physical activity per week.2 That’s around 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Take a brisk walk, pedal on a stationary bike, or go up a flight of stairs several times throughout the day. Note: Check with your doctor before beginning any new type of exercise.
Breathe in, breathe out – Many people don’t breathe from deep down in their diaphragms – as humans were born to do. Set an alarm, and take three deep breaths on the hour to flood your body with oxygen. Focus on breathing into your abdomen. Your stomach should puff out when you breathe in.
Do Yoga– Stretch out those muscles, especially if you sit behind a desk all day. This act of physical self-care gets you back in touch with your body. It may also help to avoid injuries due to tight muscles.
Make a small change in your diet – Set a healthy food focus for the week. Some ideas: drink a big glass of water at lunch each day, have a salad with dinner each night, or make a pact to not buy snacks from the vending machine all week (bring your own healthier options instead).
Learn to self-soothe – Don’t only rely on others to soothe you when the going gets tough. Be kind to your own body. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, gently stroke your own arm. Or, slowly rub your favorite body moisturizer into your skin.
Get some sun– Sun is renowned for boosting mood, so try to get outside every day, especially in cold climates. You’ll also get some essential vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium for strong bones. Take a short walk on your lunch break, and remember the sunscreen!
Get enough sleep – You need sleep for your body, mind, and soul. When you sleep, your body repairs itself, potentially lowering your risk of serious health issues. If you’re not getting enough sleep, sneak in a nap during the day. Just 20 minutes might help support mood and concentration. And, you’ll awaken feeling (and looking) much more refreshed.
Pay attention to your body – If you really listen to your body, it will tell you a multitude of things – the foods it likes, the foods that make it feel sluggish, how exercise makes it feel, and what things boost its mood. Take the time to check in regularly today.
Self-Care Ideas For The Mind Keep a gratitude journal – First thing in the morning or last thing at night, write down three things you’re most grateful for on your “gratitude list.” It’s impossible to be grateful and anxious at the same time because your mind can’t focus on positive and negative emotions at once.
Breathe in your favorite smells – Smell can boost your mood and help to motivate your mind. The key is to pick a fragrance that you already know uplifts you. Select something personal to your experience of the world.
Ground yourself – When you’re “grounded,” you feel calm and in control. Take five minutes to find your grounded center. Start by taking a few deep breaths. Then, focus all your attention on an activity or an object. It might be brushing your teeth, chewing your food, or simply admiring a tree that you’re standing next to.
Write it out – When life gets overwhelming, writing down your thoughts can be extremely useful. Grab a pen and paper and try to write non-stop for ten minutes with no judgement. Forget the punctuation, and write out everything that is bothering you. Then let it go, and trash the paper.
Dance it out – Get goofy and have some unbridled fun. Put on a favorite song and let loose around your living room for a bit. You’ll be surprised how well a solo dance party may help lower your stress levels.
Technology detox – Technology keeps everyone connected to the world at all times, which is both a blessing and a curse. It’s essential that you shut off the incessant noise of the news cycle, work emails, and social media. Whether you choose a particular hour, day of the week, or simply “after work,” it’s all helpful.
Say No – Learn to be a little more selfish. If you really don’t have the emotional bandwidth this week to go the extra mile, then simply say “no.” Then, do one thing for yourself – for no other reason than it makes you happy. Ice cream or afternoon tea? Why not?
Declutter your life – Cleaning up the environment where you work or live can have a big effect on your mood and concentration. What’s that phrase? Cluttered home, cluttered mind. Start small – how about your desk this week? Or that overflowing sock drawer?
Limit social media – Cutting down on social media screen time can lead to a much healthier mind. At the very least, drop the negative people from your feeds. Just “mute” them, and they’ll never know.
Find your stillness – Put down that to-do list and spend a few moments finding stillness and peace. Close your office or bedroom door. Or, go outside and find a patch of green. Then sit quietly for a few minutes.
Self-Care Ideas For The Soul Meditate – Meditation has been shown to have a positive effect on stress.10 It can also help to uplift you. The trick here is to start small, so it won’t feel like a mammoth undertaking in your life. Start with simply three minutes. Try a guided meditation on an app if you’re not sure how to get started.
Plant something – Some people find gardening to be very meditative. You also get to reap the rewards of seeing something grow and bloom that you alone nurtured. If you’re planting fruit or vegetables, you’ll even get to cook your own bounty.
Volunteer – Giving in any manner is good for the soul. But there are also a vast amount of community health and educational programs that rely solely on volunteers for their success. Find one and dive in.
Have a good laugh – You may be surprised just how much a good laugh can change the course of your day. Even just putting on a few minutes of a funny movie or tv show that you love might boost your mood considerably.
Find joy in your commute if you still have one – The major benefit of commuting to work is that you are free to look around and really take in the world. Why not try to find five things each day that you find beautiful or touching – either inside your car or out the window.
Emotional self-care check-in – The problem with emotions is that they can “bottle up” if they’re not released. One personal care method that’s soothing for the soul is to name what you’re feeling out loud, thereby letting it go. Sit quietly for five minutes and name what you’re feeling without any judgment.
Create a mini human connection – It’s surprising how even the smallest, positive interactions with other humans can affect your mood. Aim to have a brief phone call or Zoom with a loved one today, rather than text. It’s often easiest to start with a small piece of positive feedback – it’s guaranteed to always make someone feel good.
Splurge a little – Sometimes, it’s okay to splurge a little and treat yourself. Perhaps you’ve been dreaming about a new face serum or body cream? Or some gorgeous new underwear? Go for it.
Have a self-date – Dating yourself is one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself. Pick a dream date for yourself, and spend an hour doing it, whether it’s reading, visiting an art gallery, seeing a movie, or enjoying a beautiful meal at a new restaurant. Take a home spa – It can be expensive to visit the spa frequently. So, why not devise your own self-care routine at the “home spa?” You’ll find plenty of ideas over HERE.
Self-Care Isn’t A One Hit Wonder You can easily gain an overall sense of proper care for yourself in a very short amount of time – in wonderfully small ways. But the key is keeping this up consistently. The best way to do this is to think of self-care as many tiny habits, and to embrace just a few each day. Taking good care of yourself and living a healthy lifestyle is an ongoing project for life. Thankfully, the best ways are often small, simple, and at no cost to you. If you’re concerned about ongoing mood issues, you should always talk to a licensed psychologist. Sources 1 https://www.cosmopolitan.com/uk/beauty-hair/tips/a29187/why-dehydration-is-ageing-your-skin/ 2 https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults 3 https://www.yalemedicine.org/stories/vitamin-d-myths-debunked/ 4 https://health.gov/myhealthfinder/topics/everyday-healthy-living/mental-health-and-relationships/get-enough-sleep#panel-2 5 https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/napping 6 https://positivepsychology.com/neuroscience-of-gratitude/ 7 https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/do-scents-affect-peoples/ 8 https://www1.racgp.org.au/newsgp/clinical/what-does-clutter-do-to-your-brain-and-body 9 https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/social-media-mental-health-negative-effects-depression-anxiety-addiction-memory-a8307196.html 10 https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-may-ease-anxiety-mental-stress-201401086967