It can be challenging to remember to take time to care for ourselves – especially when trying to balance our family, work, friends, technology distractions, and other obligations. But by not taking this time to do so, we risk becoming stressed and burned out.
Self-care is simple: it means intentionally nurturing the health of your mind, body, and soul. Practicing self-care benefits your level of resilience and overall happiness. It’s something you should take part in every day, but don’t let that overwhelm you: there are many simple ways of engaging in self-care that only take a few minutes each. Try any one of these self-care ideas to get started:
Have a Self-date
Set aside at least an hour to do something you want to do. Maybe try reading, listening to music, taking a bath, going for a walk, or any other activity that brings you enjoyment. Choose a solo activity so that you can decompress without others around as a distraction.
If there’s one thing most of us don’t do often enough, it’s stretch. Stretching only takes a few minutes and helps improve your flexibility, while also promoting relaxation from head to toe. Try full-body stretches to motivate you to get up and move your body. Here are a few options:
- Hamstring stretch: While standing, grab your left foot and bring it back toward your glutes. Your knee should be fully bent, and you’ll feel the stretch down the front of your leg. Hold for thirty seconds and switch sides.
- Chest and shoulder stretch: While standing, clasp your hands behind your back, keeping your arms straight. Lift your hands upward as high as you can go while pulling your shoulders back. You’ll feel this in your chest and arms.
- Side stretch: While standing, clasp your hands straight up over your head, palms toward the ceiling. Lean-to the right and hold for 15 seconds, then lean toward the left and hold. You’ll feel this stretch on the sides of your body.
Are you one of those people who feel obligated to say yes when someone asks for something? Saying yes all the time is exhausting and leads to constantly feeling burnout. Respect your time and practice saying no the next time you don’t have the time, energy, or desire to do something.
A simple “No, I can’t” is a great way to start, as it leaves nothing up for interpretation. You only need to offer up a reason if it’s appropriate for the situation, such as when you’re responding to a work request. Otherwise, you don’t owe anyone an explanation for your refusal.
Eat a Healthy Snack
Your gut health is a significant contributor to your overall health, and nourishing it every day is essential. If you’re not a healthy eater, start small. Try eating one healthy snack each day—even if it’s the only healthy thing you eat that day. Fruits, hummus with vegetables, and nuts are easy snack options.
Pay attention to how your body responds after you eat something nutritious. Are you more energized? More focused? Ideally, these good gut feelings will inspire you to add more healthy habits to your lifestyle gradually.
Scratch That One Thing Off of Your To-do List
We all have that one thing that’s been on your to-do list forever that we keep putting off. Maybe you need to replace a lightbulb in your closet or sew a button back on a shirt. Whatever it is, do it. You’ll probably realize that it wasn’t as much effort as you expected, and you’ll be relieved that it is done.
Take a Break to Breathe
If you’re feeling uninspired or stressed, stop what you’re doing and practice deep breathing. Breathing will help you reset and relax. You can lie on your back and hold your abdomen throughout this exercise. You’ll inhale for a few seconds, hold your breath, and then exhale for a few seconds. Try counts of four, two, and six seconds respectively, and repeat for five to ten minutes.
If you’re a beginner to deep breathing, try reducing your counts, and gradually working your way up to the 4-2-6 model as your lungs adjust.
Choose just one space to declutter, such as your email inbox, your desk drawer, or your bedroom. Organizing can be a very calming activity, especially when you focus on one space at a time. Plus, you’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment once you’re done.
Write Down What’s on Your Mind
Pick up a pen and paper, and for ten minutes, write down anything you’re thinking about. This is an incredibly useful exercise to do when you’ve hit a creativity block or elevated your stress level. Letting your thoughts run freely stimulates the flow of new ideas. It also helps remove negative thinking.
If your writing’s theme is more pessimistic, crumple up the paper and throw it away when you’re done. It sounds odd, but physically throwing away bad thoughts can also clear your mind of the same.
When it comes to self-care, there’s no right or wrong answer. As long as you’re taking time to yourself to do something that makes you feel good or healthy, you’re doing great!