15 Self-Care Practices To Help You Take Better Care of Yourself
You may have heard the buzzword ‘self-care’ being thrown around a lot recently, especially since the pace of life slowed down and it felt like we all had more time on our hands to prioritise ourselves. But what exactly is ‘self-care’, why is it important and how can you engage in it?
What is ‘self-care’?
The Cambridge Dictionary defines ‘self-care’ as “the act of caring for yourself when you are ill or to stop yourself from becoming ill”. In simple modern terms, self-care is all about managing our well-being and happiness; this may be through learning to eat in a balanced way, reducing the stresses involved in everyday life, moving regularly through gentle exercise or taking a break when needed.
Definitions and practices of self-care can differ from individual to individual. What may be considered as a self-care ritual for some, may not be the same for others. We are all unique in that our body and our needs are different, so there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ when it comes to taking care of ourselves. Regardless of how an individual chooses to engage in self-care though, the basis of listening to one’s mind, body and soul to stay happy, healthy and resilient is at the core of it.
Why is self-care important?
In our usual hectic, technology-driven lives, it is easy to neglect and pass off our body’s needs. We may have struggled to find the time in the past to look after ourselves and may have even forgotten how important it is to do so. This disregard to look after ourselves often leads to feelings associated with bad self-care, such as stress and anxiety. Have you ever felt mentally, physically and/or emotionally exhausted or overwhelmed? Can you remember the last time you made a conscious decision to do something for yourself to make yourself feel better?
The truth is, self-care practices help make up the building blocks for our basic human needs. Without addressing what our body’s need, we can experience burnout and suffer from brain fog, amongst other symptoms that may be linked to inadequate self-care. This not only makes it difficult for us to care and concentrate on ourselves and our everyday tasks, but it also hinders our ability to look after anyone else - which is important if you are a parent or in a role that requires you to care for others. To build up resilience and increase our health and happiness, we must first take care of ourselves. If we don’t care for ourselves, how can we expect to give much to other people?
There may be feelings of guilt or selfishness when we think of taking a timeout in our busy lives. We may even think of it as a luxury. But the fact is, self-care is an investment. It should be something that we prioritise. Once we have addressed the best steps to nourish our minds, bodies and our soul, we will be in a better position to tackle anything that life throws at us and with that, assistance to help others with their life challenges too.
How can I engage in self-care?
There is no secret formula for self-care. The best approach is to make time to find out the self-care practices that enhance your well-being. Once you have discovered what works best for you, it is important to stay consistent with them. Turn your self-care actions into habits that you practice repeatedly and build into everyday life to truly reap the benefits of feeling more connected with yourself and the world around you.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to engage in self-care and we’ve devised a list of them for you, many with little to low costs. Choose from the following fifteen self-care tips and see if you can incorporate some into your life to enhance your emotional, physical and mental health.
1. Prioritise Sleep.
On average, adults need around 7-8 hours of sleep to function. Sleep affects us emotionally and physically, so not getting enough of it can cause some serious health issues. If you are struggling to sleep, make sure you set a regular bedtime schedule. Put any screens down an hour before bed as the light emitted from them can have negative effects on your sleep.
2. Create Time for Yourself.
Schedule some time for yourself, whether that is on a daily, weekly or monthly basis - whatever works best for you - just ensure you have some time for yourself. You may choose to use this time to think about how you want to move forward in life, to write down your thoughts/feelings or to even create a list of things you are grateful for in life. This is great for your emotional and also mental health. It helps to make you feel more connected with yourself as you learn to enjoy your own company.
3. Get Moving Regularly.
Exercise has been well-known to have physical benefits to us, but in recent times, the mental health impacts of it have become more widely understood too; it can help reduce stress, anxiety and boost endorphins. If you are new to exercise, it is important to build up your exercise levels slowly to prevent any injuries. There are plenty of beginner workout videos on YouTube. Remember to vary the type of workouts you do to stay motivated!
4. Make an Effort to Look Good.
Putting on your favourite dress and doing your makeup can sometimes do wonders for our mental and emotional wellbeing. When we feel good about how we look, we radiate more confidence and positivity which can influence other areas of our life.
5. Make a Conscious Effort to Eat a More Balanced Diet.
Whilst we often associate eating better with losing weight, this shouldn’t be the case. As with everything in life, diet is all about balance. We should listen to our body and understand what it wants by fueling it with nutritious food (and the occasional treat) - remember, life is for living and food is for eating!
6. Have a De-Clutter.
Having a de-clutter, whether that is around your living space or your wardrobe, helps you take control of your environment. Too much clutter in your space can make you feel uncomfortable and stressed. As the saying goes, a tidy room equals a tidy mind and your home should be your sanctuary where you should feel relaxed.
7. Take a Break From Social Media.
It’s probably hard to imagine a time when social media didn’t exist, but taking a break from it can help our mental health. Many of us don’t realise how much time we spend scrolling and how this can have a negative impact on us. Instead, use this time to be productive, engage in real conversations and spend less time comparing yourself to others.
8. Take a Bath.
Running a nice bath, closing the door and being able to chill can be a great practice for self-care. Whether you light some candles, fill the bath with bubbles with a nice glass of wine, or simply want to take this time to indulge in a bit of relaxation in a private space, this is a nice little self-care treat that will release the stress as you switch off and physically help you feel relax as you soothe your body.
9. Carry Out a Random Act of Kindness.
The act of being kind not only makes other people around you feel better, but it also makes you feel better and it’s one practice that doesn’t take a lot to start! When you start being kinder to others, you will find that people will start to be kinder to you. This in turn will improve your relationships with other people but also enrich your life and make you happier.
10. Get Outdoors.
Being outdoors is not only fun but it’s also good for the mind, body and soul. The fresh air helps boost our mental health and immune system. Whilst being outside in the countryside offers us free aromatherapy through the natural scents of grass, pine and flowers, which helps us to feel calmer and more relaxed.
11. Pick Up an Old Hobby or a New One.
Is there a hobby that you used to enjoy doing, perhaps it was playing an instrument or getting creative with a paintbrush? Whatever it was, picking it back up and getting back into something that you enjoyed can invoke nostalgic feelings and enhance your happiness. Starting a new hobby, whether that is practicing Yoga, learning to cook (check out BBC Good Food for some delicious recipes) or learning a new language (Duolingo is a good website and can be downloaded as an app on a smartphone) can be great self-care activities.
12. Practice Meditation and Breathing Techniques.
Meditation is a powerful self-care activity that can help you be more present by focusing on yourself. The focus on mindfulness is the real key. Once you get the hang of mindful meditation, you will find it easier to focus on tasks without distractions. Read our blog on Meditation for Transformation on how you can meditate and seek peace of mind. Deep breathing techniques can be practiced alongside meditation too. There are a whole host of benefits with practicing deep breathing, including rejuvenating our organs, reducing stress and fatigue levels and helping to better manage chronic pain. You can find out more about breathing exercises on the NHS website.
13. Read a Book.
Reading has an array of benefits, including improving brain functioning and comprehension, helping you get quality sleep and reducing cognitive decline. Whether you choose fiction or a non-fiction book, it can play a huge part in maintaining mental health to manageable levels and can allow escapism from life’s stresses and most importantly from our screens. If you’re not an avid reader, start with setting yourself small goals like reading x amount of pages or a chapter a day.
14. Balance Work and Rest.
Due to the advancement of technology, it is often difficult to shut off from the world now more than ever before. Add to that more people being self-employed, people working from home due to the pandemic and the balance between work and rest can get even hazier. Be sure to set boundaries for yourself when it comes to work - as mentioned earlier, screens can disrupt your sleep negatively and if you are working from home, try to keep work and home life separate.
15. Invest in Yourself.
I’m sure you’ve heard this before but there really is no better investment in life than investing in yourself! Luckily, there are plenty of ways that you can do this. Whether you want to find more time doing things that you are passionate about, learn a new language, take a course to build up your skills or even go back into education to study a subject you love, investing in yourself will provide you with a range of benefits. By taking these opportunities to invest in yourself, you will have more focus on your life’s purpose, which in turn will allow you to grow and enrich it further.
You don’t need to accomplish all these practices to become a self-care hero. The best thing is that you take the activities which work best for you and work them into your everyday life to feel more connected with yourself and the wider world. If you feel like you would benefit from a little more guidance in life though, speak to one of our talented psychic readers today!