Self-care is a super buzzy phrase that can feel trivial after being commandeered by companies trying to capitalize on face masks and bath salts…but it’s safe to say after the tumultuous year of 2020 that self care is more vital than ever. Now that the frenzy of the holiday season is behind us and the new year and resolutions that come along with it are here, we thought we’d highlight some ways to incorporate self care into your daily routine that have nothing to do with beauty products.
It’s safe to say when the majority of us look in the mirror we find what we hate about ourselves and can easily hyper focus on it. It’s easy to look at instagram models with so-called “perfect” bodies and feel completely inadequate. What if instead of finding what we hate we focused on what we loved about ourselves? Try focusing on the love and the positive emotions you have with it and make it a regular exercise. Every time you go to the mirror say what you like and remind yourself that you’re the divine being you are. Hyper focus on it. It’s a muscle, that when exercised regularly will help you cultivate stronger positive emotions about yourself. Do the same with non-physical attributes. Instead of beating yourself up for mistakes made, fixate on your strong suits, integrity, or unique traits.
When you challenge yourself by doing something different, learning something new, travelling somewhere new you’re setting up your brain to create new neural pathways and connections. Encouraging the brain’s plasticity can help keep it open-minded, agile, intuitive and improve its resilience.
Quiet Time / Meditating / Journalling
I find that doing one (or all) of these is completely transformational for my mood. If you’re busy, it can be possible to squeeze in during spare minutes. Short meditations where you slow your thoughts and sit in quiet can bring down your blood pressure, put you in a more relaxed state and can affect your mood for the entire day. I find the biggest change to be feeling less reactive which can be a huge benefit to people prone to anxiety. Journalling can help you purge and reflect on your feelings, pen down hard to figure out emotions/situations and can be a great uplifting practice when journalling about the things you’re grateful for. It can also be useful for setting goals and intentions.
Moving your body
Working out increases endorphins, elevates your mood, and can make your body feel more fluid and less stiff. Studies have shown that (3) 30 minute exercises a week are enough to help most of the participants go off their anti-depressants entirely. Find workouts that you enjoy and have fun with.
Paring down and minimizing clutter in your dwelling can make you feel more at peace and more at home in your space. Exposure to cluttered spaces can stealthily drain your cognitive resources, heighten anxiety, increase stress and encourage procrastination. When going through the process of decluttering you can get a renewed sense of control over your environment and turn your space into a restorative one. Having a tidier home can be a game changer for setting you up to have healthier habits as well.
Eating to Feel Good
It isn’t about dieting and abstaining from everything you find delicious. It’s about consciously making an effort to incorporate foods that make you feel good and well. When you gradually focus on including the good and put more intention on it, it’ll be easier to sustain those choices. When you do restrictive diets and focus on what you can’t have, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll fail.
Everyone knows just how important it is, yet most of us do not get enough of it on a regular basis. Rather than convey its importance (we all know better) I’ll just highlight some way to help get more of it.
Work on healthy sleep hygiene. If you have a hard time falling asleep, make boundaries with your bedroom. Don’t lay in bed and watch tv…do that elsewhere like the couch. When you train yourself that your bed is for sleeping (or other fun things) only, it’ll be much easier to fall asleep when you get into bed. Don’t have screen time before bed. Exposing yourself to bright/blue light before bed will stop the production of melatonin in your body. Have a soothing night time ritual like reading, a bath or journalling.
Supplemental magnesium before bed can improve sleep. Studies suggest that 75% of Americans do not meet their dietary requirements for magnesium. This mineral helps by quieting the nervous system and helping to prepare your body for sleep.
Keep your bedroom cool and dark. Our core body temperature decreases when we sleep. If our environment is too warm it can disturb the process. Even small amounts of artificial light can disrupt the circadian rhythm. Use an eye mask or black out shades and cover light from devices.
Cultivating Healthy Relationships
Many people identify themselves as introverts and can very easily go the route of being a hermit. To be a healthy human, we need community and connection with others. It’s non-negotiable. Make it a priority to hang out with your friends or to make new ones. That also means making sure your relationships with your friends, family or significant others are healthy. If it’s a relationship that repeatedly brings you stress or doesn’t make you feel loved then get out quick.
We feel obligated to say yes all the time. Overextending ourselves by saying yes to things we don’t want to go to, yes to following people we don’t want to follow, yes to picking up extra shifts when we don’t want to. Yes, there are times where it’s vital for a number of reasons to suck it up and go anyway…but when it’s not a necessity, learn how to say no. For your sanity, say no so you can go home and have that down time you really need. Say no to the extra shift at work because you don’t want to have to stay up all night studying. If someone’s posts repeatedly make you feel a negative emotion then say no to following them (or at the very least you can just mute them).
Time in Nature
Countless studies show that time outdoors lowers levels of stress, depression, anxiety and promotes overall happiness. Interacting with nature gives your brain a much needed respite from the overstimulation that is so common in our modern world. If you live in an urban setting try botanical gardens or conservancies, eating outside, or city parks. If you don’t have access to any of these some studies show that houseplants or even images of the outdoors can provide some of the same benefits on a milder level.
(Photo credit: Jared Rice/Unsplash)