Ways to Build Your Self-Care Foundation
Modern life is hectic and busy and has a tendency to pull us in every direction at once. We often find ourselves overcommitting and putting others’ needs and wants above our own. Too often, this leads us into dark places emotionally, leading to burn out and poor decision making.
While there will always be commitments and other life requirements we can’t avoid, we can better prepare ourselves to meet those needs by practicing regular self-care.
Self-care doesn’t necessarily have to be complicated or difficult. Sure, you can go all out and treat yourself to a luxurious spa day or much needed vacation, but there are also small ways that you can practice self-care on the daily. Even something as routine as cooking can be a form of self-care and find a bit of fulfillment.
Building a strong foundation of basic self-care routines will help you address life’s stressors head on and take the edge off of needing to splurge on the big getaways (which are great, but few people are able to frequently enjoy them).
Nourish Your Body, Nourish Your Mind
We all know the old saying “you are what you eat.” If you routinely only eat junk foods, you not only make yourself far more susceptible to a number of health problems but you also make it likely that you simply won’t feel your best.
Swings in your blood sugar can cause your energy to crash when you most need energy. Digestive discomfort from a poor diet can make it hard to focus on the task at hand. Even your morning cup of coffee, which can be a great boost of energy to help you get going, can backfire if you overdo it and get dependent on that daily caffeine fix to function.
Use Cooking as a Form of Self-Care
Skipping the drive through and cooking at home can not only help you make healthier choices, but the very act of cooking can be therapeutic. Spend your time focusing on the cooking process and you can achieve an almost meditative state of mind. For more tips, check out the visual by Kitchen Cabinet Kings on ways cooking is like self-care.
Many studies link mindfulness activities with a range of benefits including stress reduction, better cognitive functioning and boosts to the immune system. While it’s not traditionally associated with mindfulness, you can certainly bring mindfulness to your cooking routines.
Don’t Skip Exercising
People work out for a variety of reasons, but you don’t have to be a gym rat to reap the benefits of exercise. In fact, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends 30 minutes of moderate activity (like brisk walking) five days each week, which is easily attainable with just a little effort.
Regular exercise benefits virtually all aspects of your body, from improving your heart to boosting your brain functions to reducing your risk for many health conditions. And like eating healthier, any activities you can do to make your body function and feel a little better will help you emotionally meet the challenges that arise throughout the day.
Focused gym workouts are certainly great, but the bottom line is to find something that works for you and is sustainable. That could be running, cycling, taking the dog for a longer walk, going for hikes, even vigorously working in your yard or garden. Just make sure that you are making your heart work harder and getting your pulse up for at least 30 minutes.
The Most Neglected: Sleep
Self-care is all about separating yourself from the stress of daily life and recharging your emotional and physical batteries. There is no process in life more fundamentally connected to recharging than sleep. Unfortunately, there’s also quite possibly nothing more frequently neglected.
According to the Center for Disease Control, one in three adults don’t get enough sleep. We likely all have known (or even been) that person who seemingly takes pride in how little they sleep, but there is a well studied and widely recognized link between sleep deprivation and a wide range of chronic health conditions.
For many people, neglecting a healthy sleep schedule is an easy decision to make. Many of us want to be more productive, to get more done, but there are only so many hours in the day. It can feel like a waste to spend a third or more of them asleep. And for other people, night is the only time to pursue leisure activities and have fun after devoting the day to work and chores and the other necessities of life.
Don’t underestimate the importance of getting enough sleep. Not only will getting enough sleep help you avoid those chronic health conditions, but being well rested and alert actually makes you more productive and efficient during the day.
Carve Out Time for Yourself
It’s easy to feel like you have to say yes to anything you are asked. This doesn’t even necessarily mean accepting more work commitments, but even something like going out and socializing.
But sometimes you just have to say no. You don’t want to completely avoid people and become a hermit, but you also don’t have to accept every invitation you receive. Find a healthy balance for you. It’s perfectly fine to stay home and read a book or catch up on sleep.
Find activities that are emotionally fulfilling. Reconnect with nature, or escape to another world through a book, movie, or game. Pursue hobbies. Find something that interests you and learn more about it.
Basically, you do you. Because when you are able to satisfy your own emotional needs, you will be able to enjoy the time you spend with others even more.
Practice Your Own Self-Care
We have to be able to take care of ourselves in order to best handle everything that life throws at us. It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed or to feel like we are letting others down if we don’t always say yes. But we can’t neglect our own needs.
Self-care is not selfish. While it seems counter-intuitive, by saying no and practicing self-care we are able to more efficiently and more effectively satisfy the responsibilities and overcome the challenges that arise on a daily basis.
Self-care will mean different things to different people, but by starting with these foundations you’ll find ways to best meet your own needs.
Bio: As a senior content marketing specialist, Megan is most passionate about creating and promoting unique content that drives client growth. Outside of the office, you can find her seeking out the next camping spot or consuming way too much coffee.