The concept of self-care has been around for centuries, but it has really taken off in the past few decades as the idea of making oneself a priority has become more generally accepted. As the saying goes, “put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others”. With that in mind, here are a few ideas you can implement to improve your self-care regime.
Whether you’re a busy parent, a snowed-under worker, a worn-out student, or all three, we can all take steps to reduce the impact that stress has on our mental well-being. Practice using the 4 A’s of stress management: avoid, alter, adapt, or accept. Avoid overburdening yourself by learning to say no to the work you can’t handle. Alter the situations you can’t avoid by communicating your needs to the people who can help you. Adapt your attitude to other stressors; think of that annoying traffic jam as an opportunity to listen to a favourite podcast. Accept the things that can’t be changed and be kind to yourself while you deal with them. By reducing stress, you will also reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and numerous other illnesses.
Get more sleep
Tiredness can contribute to all sorts of issues, from a lack of concentration and a bad mood, to serious health problems and a reduced life expectancy. While we sleep, our bodies work to repair organs, muscles, and other cells, so, to get the most out of every day, it’s important to make sure the night before has been restful. If you’re not sleeping enough, try setting a bedtime and sticking to it to make sure you’re getting enough hours in bed each night. Your body will soon adjust, and you’ll find you are able to get to sleep at the right time. Wind down before bedtime with a bath, a book, or other relaxation activities, and limit screen time immediately before bed as the blue light can delay the release of melatonin that will help you fall asleep. If you’re still having difficulties sleeping, start a sleep diary to track your sleeping patterns and take this to your GP if the problems persist.
Take care of your physical health
Self-care is about both mental and physical health so make sure you’re treating your body well, drinking plenty of water, exercising regularly, and enjoying a nutritious and balanced diet. To minimise the spread of illness-causing germs and reduce your own risk of falling ill, make sure to always practice good hand hygiene. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or, where these aren’t available, using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser. When your body is healthy, it’s easier to enjoy the other areas of your life.
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Spend more quality time with friends and family
Self-care is about doing more of what makes you happy so surround yourself with loved ones who uplift and excite you. If you’ve been working long hours or skipping family events, think about setting time aside more regularly to catch up with the people who matter. If you’re finding you get back too late in the evenings to spend time with your children, speak to your boss and see if you can adjust your working hours to give you more time with your family. Turn your phone off when you’re spending time with friends so that you don’t get distracted by emails and calls. Make sure that the people you love know just how important they are to you.
Let go of grudges
Life’s too short. We all want to make the most of the time we have so if you feel yourself being overwhelmed by negative emotions, act fast. If you fall out over something minor, learn to forgive and make up with the person who’s erred. Holding grudges and bottling up your negativity is only going to hurt you and will ultimately backfire. On the other hand, if anyone is dragging you down into constant negativity, cut those ties and be kind to yourself about it. Your happiness and well-being are more important than maintaining harmful relationships.
*This information is meant for educational purposes only and should not be considered specific medical advice.