Self-care is a term that is banded about a lot, but it’s generally much easier said than done. What exactly is self-care? Essentially, it’s anything that we deliberately do for the sake of our own well-being.
Unfortunately, the lines between self-care and self-indulgence have been blurred a little. Self-care is about doing things to keep yourself physically and mentally healthy, rather than simply indulging in something that you desire. Of course, treating yourself can certainly be considered part of self-care, but unlike indulgence, self-care is not always enjoyable or easy in the moment you’re doing it. It can be very hard to implement self-care.
For example, skipping the gym and watching TV whilst eating pizza may be enjoyable in the moment, but it doesn’t contribute to your physical or mental health and long-term happiness. Working out may not be pleasant, but when you’re done you feel satisfied, more confident, and you have done something that benefited your health and well-being.
Of course, that’s not to say you should never treat yourself. That’s both unrealistic and overly restrictive, and living a life of restriction isn’t beneficial either. But if you treat yourself too often, it stops being a treat, and becomes a self-indulgent lifestyle. The momentary happiness gained from these ‘treats’ will never result in the same overall well-being and contentment that you get from true self-care.
So, what are some ways you can begin to implement self-care to your everyday life?
Drink enough water
Drinking enough water is critical for your health – it also affects our brain function and boosts our energy. We often wake up dehydrated, so drinking water in the morning is especially important. One simple way to take care of yourself is to try to keep hydrated.
Tip – Buy a reusable water bottle and keep it with you all the time. You’ll probably find yourself sipping on it frequently. Once it’s empty, refill it. Aim to drink at least 2 litres per day.
Eat a balanced diet
Eating healthy can have a lot of benefits, such as improving your skin, reducing inflammation in the body, improving mood and energy, and even reducing the risk of serious diseases. Eating a varied diet of whole foods is another way you can look after your wellbeing.
Tip – Try planning your meals in advance. That way, when you shop you will know exactly what you need, and you’ll be less tempted to impulse-buy junk food that you don’t need.
No matter how awful your day has been, there are always things to be thankful for. Counting your blessings each day will help put things in perspective and reduce stress.
Tip – Try taking a few minutes to write down at least 4 things that you are thankful for at the end of each day.
Just a few minutes of stretching in the morning gets your blood circulating through your body – especially your brain! It helps you feel more energized, alert and focused. Stress can cause our bodies to tense up, so when we take some time to stretch out each day it will help to relax your body and mind.
Tip – There are plenty of free stretch workouts available on YouTube. There are options for all levels and abilities and for different amounts of time. I use an app called FitOn which contains lots of free workouts including some short, simple yoga/stretching sessions.
Try taking a few hours away from a screen. Challenge yourself to not look at your phone at all during this time. Few people realise the impact technology has on our state of wellbeing, but because we’re ‘always-on’ -constantly responding to notifications, messages, and alerts – this prevents our minds from fully relaxing, and increases stress and anxiety.
Tip – You could do some cooking, art, reading, or sit outside in the sun. Whatever you decide to do, take some time for yourself and allow your mind to completely relax for a few hours.
Setting goals or intentions for yourself can be a very beneficial exercise. They could be physical, emotional or mental goals – things that you want to achieve. This gives you a focus and shows you where you want to go in life or what you want to improve.
If any of your goals seem intimidating, you can work towards them each day with smaller, more achievable goals (for example, if you want to run a marathon, you could set yourself smaller goals to increase your distance gradually each time you go for a run).
Tip – Write down three things you want to achieve. Display them in a place where you see them everyday as a reminder of what you’re working towards. Make an effort to hold yourself accountable and progress towards achieving them.
In part 2 of this blog post, I’ll list a few more simple self-care ideas that can easily become part of your daily routine.