Self-care is the new buzz-word and is a pretty big deal these days – and rightly so. Taking the time to take care of yourself regularly by doing the things that make you happy is crucial to your well-being, but are we practicing self-care correctly?
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When we think of self-care, we often think of face masks, bubble baths, and treating ourselves to a glass of wine or chocolate in the evenings topped off with a shopping spree online. And sure, those things can count as self-care on a superficial level. After all, they make us feel good. But real self-care tends to go a lot deeper than just that.
Here are four ways to inspire your real self-care routine and how you can practice them.
Move your body
Taking care of our bodies is something that every effective self-care routine should include. Not only will it make you feel good on the outside on a superficial level, by toning your body and improving your fitness, but more importantly, it will make you feel good on the inside by producing and releasing more Serotonin.
Don’t panic though, because it doesn’t need to be a vigorous exercise routine or HIT workout with fearsome burpees. The concept of any regular exercise routine can feel daunting, especially if our days are already jam-packed, but the whole point of it counting towards self-care means that it should be something that you look forward to.
If you are stuck for ideas, why not:
- Go for daily walks
- Run outside to clear your mind
- Improve your flexibility with yoga
- Enjoy your surroundings with a bike ride
- Sign up for a dance class, try out Zumba or go crazy and dance around your house for 30 minutes
Eat nourishing food
As we all know, our bodies need nourishing food full of vitamins and minerals to stay healthy and make us feel our best. While it’s tempting to opt for easy-to-reach treats now more than ever, limit the amount of processed foods that you consume and look for healthier alternatives.
Try your hand at some new recipes and add more wholesome and healthy foods into your diet.
Eat plenty of fruit and veggies every day and make your plates as colourful as possible. You’ve probably heard of the saying ‘it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle’ so many times that it’s beginning to sound like a cliche, but it works and will leave you glowing and full of energy!
Invest in some vitamins to give your body a boost such as the sunshine vitamin D, vitamin C to keep your immune system boosted, and Vitamin A and fish oils to keep your skin glowing.
Treat yourself to a brand new water bottle to remind you to stay hydrated throughout the day to improve your skin and overall digestion, and get in the habit of drinking a glass every morning to help refresh and wake your body up. If you’re not a big fan of water, add a squeeze of lemon juice or other tasty fruits to spruce up your daily dose of H2O.
Reduce the stress in your life
Now this one is easier said than done, and of course, stress can never be 100% eliminated at all times. Unfortunately, things pop up, and stressful things happen – that’s just life.
But it can be significantly reduced, and one of the quickest ways of doing this is by forcing yourself to do all of those things that you keep putting off, but have been nagging away at you at the back of your mind. This can be anything from applying to Buddy Loans to give yourself a bit of breathing space financially to finally filling out that job application. While it’s not the most fun form of self-care out there, by facing these tasks head-on, the stress associated with putting them off non-stop will melt away and reduce significantly.
Another, and easier, way to reduce stress is to reduce your social media activity.
While we all love a good scroll through Facebook and Instagram, if you find yourself looking on social media for hours on end throughout the day, it might be time to start placing some limits. Social media, while keeping us all connected to our friends and loved ones, can actually become addictive. Studies show that the overuse of online platforms can lead to poor mental health, such as depression, and higher levels of stress due to constant, unrealistic comparisons to others.
Sleep is also crucial for tackling and reducing stress, so make sure that you get enough. When you are sleeping, your body is healing and regenerating itself, which is crucial for supporting healthy brain function. This is so important when it comes to stress, as sleep deprivation leads to higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, which can then lead to other illnesses.
It can be easily argued that emotional self-care is perhaps the most important of all, but is something that is often overlooked. It consists of regularly checking in with yourself, just like you would with a friend, and becoming more in tune with your emotions.
In a world where it can feel like there is constant pressure to always be positive, accept how you are feeling, and give yourself permission to cry or feel angry without feeling bad about it. All emotions are useful and needed, even the bad ones, so let them out instead of bottling them up through journaling, which can help you to better understand them. Become more mindful of your thinking patterns and pay attention to your self-talk – think would I speak this way to a friend? Try to be kinder to yourself and replace the negatives with positive self-talk instead.
Other ideas for emotional self-care include:
- Establishing boundaries – perhaps you are a chronic people-pleaser who can’t say no to people, even when you really want to. Saying no is just as important as saying yes to the things that matter to you.
- Practice mindfulness and try to be more present – meditation is perfect for this!
- Start a 5-minute or gratitude journal – focusing on the positives in your life can help to put things into perspective
- Give yourself breathing room and don’t over-fill your schedule
- Get creative – paint, write, play an instrument, cook, get snapping on your camera! Anything that releases your inner creativity will also help when it comes to expressing and releasing your emotions
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