the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.
– Oxford Dictionary
Think back to your childhood, and you will likely remember times when your loved ones took great pains to care for you.
Whether it was ensuring that you ate a nutritious breakfast before jetting off to school or being scrubbed behind the ears while you played with toys in the bathtub, being cared for is something that many of us were lucky enough to experience as kids.
Fast-forward to the present, and the care we give ourselves often pales in comparison. We spend our days toiling, stressing, not sleeping (well), and doing just about everything other than taking care of ourselves.
Remember that saying about “pouring from an empty cup?” That couldn’t be more true, and many of us ignore this to trudge through daily life while neglecting ourselves in the process. It doesn’t have to be this way.
The transition to adulthood doesn’t automatically mean that self-neglect is a given. Despite the trendy nature of “self-care,” it isn’t just a buzzword.
It is imperative to take care of yourself because everything else in your life gets that much harder without being cared for and fresh. Read on for five simple ways to care for yourself starting today.
Sleep: Yes, I know. You’ve heard it a million times, and it’s the most cliché solution to all of our problems. But, countless studies and guidelines show that it’s one of the simplest and lowest-cost ways to care for yourself.
All of us have experienced the discomfort of being forced to go through a typical day of work or school on virtually zero hours of sleep for a multitude of ahem reasons (I won’t call Netflix out too much here as the culprit).
That lack of sleep leaves us nearly falling over at our desks, clearing out vending machines for snacks as sustenance, or having mood swings at a break-neck pace, all because we are tired.
Simply getting your optimal amount of sleep, which you can calculate based on your age and other factors, can help alleviate anxiety, clear brain fog, enhance your life, and has countless other health benefits.
As hard as it can be to tear yourself away from revenge bedtime procrastination, going to sleep on time and getting a whole night’s rest is an easy way to care for yourself.
Spontaneity can be good for some things. Surprise birthday parties and unexpected gifts are often welcome in our lives. But, spontaneity can be stressful in our daily lives without having cornerstones by which we live.
Many of us feel scatterbrained and tense is because each day looks different. There aren’t patterns to many of the things that we do.
Enter mini-habits. Mini-habits can create motivation and familiarity in our lives with tasks as simple as eating a simple bowl of cereal that we never tire of for breakfast or taking a nice relaxing shower every night to symbolize that it’s time for bed.
People often shy away from trying a routine because it seems like a complete life overhaul.
Mini-habits can have enormous benefits too. Adding a positive habit to your life can provide a constant comfort that at least one thing in your life will be the same.
Having go-to patterns can help to calm your mind and is one of many stress-reducing ways to care for yourself. Consider adding one of the examples below to your life as a simple mini-habit:
Eat breakfast every morning (if it’s similar each day, even better).
Read for fun or self-improvement ten minutes every morning.
Create a “getting ready” playlist that you listen to every morning while getting ready for your day. Shower, brush your teeth, etc., while listening to create a pattern.
Meditate for 10 minutes every day during your lunch break to reset mid-day.
Take five minutes to give yourself a massage during your skincare routine every night.
File this one under the predictable category of self-care, but eating healthy has countless benefits for everything from heart health to improved mood.
Quick, what’s your idea of healthy eating? Many of us picture green smoothies filled with kale and spinach or hours of meal-prepping bland foods that we don’t enjoy.
Consider committing to one healthy meal per day rather than taking on the overwhelming task of overhauling your entire diet. Decadent foods have their place as well. No food shaming here!
However, the vitamins and nutrients gained from healthy eating can improve your overall well-being.
Implement this simply by making food swaps in your existing diet. Swapping out more indulgent foods for more nutritious options can provide you with a health boost.
When was the last time that you did nothing? No, seriously, think about it. If you can’t remember the last time you didn’t do anything, you’re not alone.
Most of us jam-pack our schedules with work, errands, caring for others, and other seemingly important tasks that we’re unable to take the time to do nothing.
Taking the time to rest can provide just the recharge that we need to power through the rest of the day or week without completely burning out and is one of the most low-maintenance ways to care for yourself.
Try scheduling 15 minutes a day to rest, think, listen to music or read as a way to care for yourself.
This respite from the hustle and bustle may be just the boost that you need to feel refreshed. If doing nothing seems too scary for you, consider adding a stress-free activity to your schedule instead.
Things like adult coloring, puzzles, and video games (hello, Animal Crossing) are great ways to have mindless fun while keeping your brain engaged and not feeling the dread of wasting time.
Walking is one of the most accessible forms of exercise, is a low-cost (or no-cost) way to incorporate movement into your day, and is one of the simplest ways to care for yourself.
In addition to the physicality of walking, it serves as a helpful way to clear your head, get in touch with nature, socialize, or get a change of scenery.
Walking has countless benefits, including the potential to make you look more youthful and improve overall mental health. Consider taking a 20-minute-walk daily, and if you can get outside to walk, even better!
Can’t get outside? Walking around your couch or office building can also offer benefits and can be a simple way to show yourself some care.
As adults, taking care of ourselves is essential to having a happy and healthy life. With the help of these five simple ways to care for yourself, self-care doesn’t have to be complicated. To alleviate the overwhelm that comes with making substantial life changes all at once, consider following one or more of these suggestions to begin the lifelong process of caring for yourself.
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