How to Practice Self-Care for Good Health
Self-care is essential to maintaining our physical health and mental health, giving us a well-needed opportunity to reflect on our own well-being instead of everyone else. While this sounds great, implementing self-care into our daily routines can be very difficult.
Everyday life and work obligations can see us skipping out on crucial steps to taking care of ourselves, be that just taking time to drink enough water or opting for fast food instead of cooking a healthy well-balanced meal.
There's no shame in it because we all do it, but it's important to begin establishing better routines to invest in your health and wellness.
Learning how to devise the perfect self-care plan that fits around your schedule is a great way to start building positive habits and prioritizing your physical and emotional health. Taking personal responsibility for your wellbeing is the first step, so if you want to know how to practice self-care to better your relationship with your body, improve your self-worth and stress management, then keep reading.
In this article, we'll provide you with a comprehensive guide to all things self-care, including what self-care is, why it's important, what is and isn't self-care, health benefits, rules, examples and a how-to guide to practicing self-care.
What is self-care?
Before getting into the specifics, it's important to first discuss what self-care is. Self-care refers to the process where people take extra time to take special care of their minds and bodies.
Self-care looks different for everyone and can be as small or as lavish as you like. Essentially, anything that you do to take personal responsibility to manage your health and well-being can be classed as self-care.
How often should I practice self-care?
Self-care can be as constant as you'd like. It doesn't have to be a single night where you take time to have a bath, read a book or do a facemask, it can also be present when you go to the gym, cook yourself a nutritious meal every day, or even just taking five minutes to practise mindfulness whilst you're working. Whatever self-care looks like for you, its importance and benefits to your health are all the same.
Believe it or not, we engage in some kind of self-care every single day. From brushing our teeth every morning and night to ensuring that we eat three meals a day, this all comes under the bracket of self-care because it contributes to the overall maintenance of your personal care.
Despite this, we all need to take additional steps in our self-care routines, because if we're being totally honest, brushing our teeth just doesn't cut it sometimes.
Sometimes, we have to take additional steps to look after our physical and mental health, meaning we invest in expensive treatments, gym plans, spa days and even a detox or two.
It's important to note that investing time and even money in your self-care is never a waste because your mental and physical stability is worth it!
What does self-care look like?
When addressing self-care, it's worth noting that some of us may have a hyper-feminized view of putting time and effort into our personal care. When some of us think of self-care, we probably think of face masks, ice cream, pajamas, painting our nails and watching our favorite films.
While that is a great form of self-care, it completely excludes the fact that self-care and self-worth stretch beyond gender boundaries. For example, emotional self-care and spiritual self-care has no gender and can look the same for everyone.
This is super important to stress because if facemasks aren't your thing but going to burn away some workday frustration in the gym is, then that is completely okay and a valid form of self-care!
Why is self-care important?
So, why is self-care important? Well, the benefits of self-care vary from person to person. For example, some people may find that practicing regular self-care helps them with stress management, maintain their health and establish better and healthier routines.
Whilst others may find it a great way to decompress after a long day at work, protect their mental health and practise self-reliance and mindfulness. Regardless of the reasons people practise self-care, the importance for your physical and mental health is the same.
Mental health benefits
Research suggests that taking part in some regular self-indulgence contributes to the reduction and possible elimination of anxiety-related symptoms.
We live in an extremely stressful world, and with our familial and working obligations sometimes getting the better of us, it's critical to invest some time in ourselves so we don't get completely consumed by the trials and tribulations of existing in the modern world.
Physical health benefits
Some parts of self-care are also just essential to living a longer life. For example, we know that eating more fruits and vegetables contributes to lowering the risk of health problems like high cholesterol and heart disease. But, it's not just about eating clean, we can't live without food and eating well every single day classes as self-care!
A lot of us notice that when we stop spending time on ourselves, our self-esteem takes a big hit. If we shower less, stop doing our skincare in our morning routine, eat less healthy foods and stop checking in with ourselves via things like mindfulness training, we begin to lose confidence, as well as experience other negative mental and physical side effects.
Self-esteem helps you get up in the morning and take on the day with vigor, so maintaining it is crucial. When you establish a functional self-care plan that emboldens you, you're likely to find that your self-esteem improves!
Another reason why self-care is super important is that it can help you achieve a better work-life balance. Some of us really struggle to separate work from the rest of our life, and it's the main reason why you can find yourself sitting in bed and still answering work emails into the early hours of the morning. It's understandable because you spend a lot of your life working. But, it's critical to switch off.
This is especially important for those of you who work from home because your personal life is heavily integrated with your professional life. So, how does self-care manage this? Well, self-care gives you an opportunity to step away from the laptops and phones and dedicate all focus on yourself for as long as you need.
Taking yourself out of the workspace for enough time to decompress and process the events of the day is crucial to creating a better relationship with work. This is because the less work dominates your personal life and causes you immense stress, the less you will resent it. Creating this barrier is important to value time to yourself and value your professional life.
What is and isn't self-care?
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to self-care because it's entirely subjective. Ultimately, if an act of indulgence fuels you and helps you take constructive steps to better your physical and mental health, then you can class it as self-care.
This can look like a lot of things, like staying in bed for an extra hour so you feel more ready to take on the day, or deciding to have a rest day from the gym because your muscles need more time to heal than usual.
Whatever it is, as long as it positively contributes to your wellbeing and doesn't feel like a chore, there's a good chance that it classifies as self-care.
What isn't self-care?
Now, let's get into what isn't self-care. Anything that actively contributes to degrading your physical or mental health probably can't be classed as self-care. This also goes for anything that feels like a chore if you have to do it.
For example, an absence of self-care might look like working extra time in the office so much that it's taking a toll on your mental and physical health. While you may feel like it's good to get ahead of the next day, this can have serious implications and may result in taking more time off to cope with a stress-related illness.
In a nutshell, anything that you have to force yourself to do or feels like a chore when you're doing it can't be labeled as self-care.
Health benefits of self-care
Before we get into the health benefits of practicing self-care, it's important to recognise that self-care alone may not be a cure-all. This is because there are several factors that contribute to overall health.
For example, if you implement a gym session or a skincare ritual into your nightly routine, you may still experience work-related stress from checking your work emails too often or experience digestive problems by not focusing on a healthier diet.
Whilst self-care can massively contribute to a healthier lifestyle, it's important not to abandon other practices even if they aren't super convenient. In fact, ensuring that you maintain health practices like eating well alongside self-care can benefit your physical and mental health. So, with that in mind, let's go through some of the things that self-care can support:
Insomnia is a troubling disorder that wreaks havoc on so many of our lives. While it's normal to have a bad night's sleep once in a while, it's not normal to have a persistent problem with falling or staying asleep.
Sleep quality has a huge impact on how our bodies function. Whilst you're asleep, your body spends crucial time repairing and replenishing cells around your body so you're ready to face the day in the morning.
Your metabolism works hard whilst you're asleep too and relies on a good sleep pattern to maintain normal function. This is important for ensuring that your body can adequately convert food into energy and keep your stored fat at a reasonable level.
So where does self-care come into this? Stress, anxiety and depression can increase the frequency of late nights and poor quality sleep, increasing the likelihood of developing sleep disorders such as insomnia.
Creating a good self-care plan before you go to bed can help you decompress and bring your stress hormones down enough to help your brain fall asleep. There are also certain supplements you can incorporate into your nightly self-care routines, such as melatonin and sleep supplements.
So, if you value your 40 winks, you should create a self-care plan now to make sure you give your body the rebuilding time it needs!
Your cardiovascular system does a lot for your day-to-day, so it's important to keep it in good health. Doing cardio, drinking enough water, getting good quality sleep and eating the right foods is an excellent way of ensuring that your heart stays beating for longer!
With that in mind, why not start a new exercise routine that benefits your mental and physical health? You can protect your cardiovascular health by taking regular reflective self-care walks and workout sessions.
Doing this a few times a week can lower the risk of high blood pressure that leads to dangerous diseases like heart disease and high cholesterol. Lowering your blood pressure also wards off nasty things like strokes, dementia and heart attacks.
While self-care alone can't completely eliminate the risk, pairing this with a healthy lifestyle such as eating superfoods, staying hydrated and decreasing your alcohol intake, can all help you live a longer, happier life!
Obesity is a serious, common, but preventable disease for many people, meaning that you can take constructive steps to minimise the harmful risks of being obese. Obesity can increase your chances of having high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, gallbladder disease and even strokes. While obesity may be as a result of different illnesses like polycystic ovarian syndrome or thyroid conditions, there are ways that you can have a lower risk of gaining a dangerous level of visceral fat.
Eating more fruits, vegetables and whole foods can positively influence your levels of high LDL cholesterol, lowering the risks of arterial narrowing and high blood pressure that can lead to a wide range of cardiovascular diseases.
Taking frequent exercise to keep your weight at a manageable level is a good way to lower heart rate, blood pressure and give your metabolism an extra boost.
We know that sometimes diets and exercise can feel like a chore and sometimes you have to force yourself to do it, meaning it doesn't count as self-care, but your mindset here matters! When you're exercising and eating well, you're taking steps to improve your relationship with your body and ensure that you live longer.
Viewing this as less of a chore and more of an investment in your future can take away the negative connotations of weight loss.
To stop this feeling like a chore, try finding an exercise regime that is as fun as it is helpful. Turning weight loss into a fun activity can have a very positive influence on your mental health, keep you motivated and transform a diet into a positive and self-caring lifestyle choice.
Managing symptoms of a disease
While undergoing treatment for disease and illness, you can experience several negative side effects on your physical and mental health. For example, chemotherapies can have significant impacts on the body's ability to stay hydrated and can make your skin extremely dry.
While self-care practices might not be able to cure you, they can help you manage some of the nasty side effects.
When undergoing treatment, make sure you stay as hydrated as possible by drinking the recommended amount of water every single day. You may wish to consider a comprehensive skincare routine that can put some moisture back into your skin.
This might also help you check in with yourself regularly and give yourself enough time to process and decompress after treatment.
We know that undergoing treatment can feel mentally draining, so establishing a beneficial and supportive self-care plan is a good way of ensuring that you promote mental health whilst looking after yourself physically.
30 examples of self-care
Practicing self-care doesn't mean you have to immediately establish a comprehensive routine that takes hours each day. This can start by adopting one or two simple tasks that help you unwind or prepare for the day ahead, before building up to more in-depth plans that may take more time. Here are 20 easy examples:
- taking vitamin and health supplements
- spend some time in the sun during the day
- take a brief walk in nature
- drink enough water
- wash your face
- practice deep breathing for 30 seconds
- stretch after you wake up and before you go to sleep
- take a shower or bath
- eat a healthy and filling meal
- prioritize your hygiene
- read a chapter from a book
- turn your phone on airplane mode
- visit or call a close friend
- engage in an activity that is outside of your comfort zone
- create a healthy diet plan
- write down your thoughts in a journal
- sit in silence and meditate for five minutes
- brush your hair
- trim or file your nails
- drink a detox drink
- have a healthy organic snack
- make a tea or coffee
- schedule some time off work
- schedule an event with your best friend
- look for community involvement opportunities like volunteering
- write a to-do list
- create a list of leisure activities you would like to do
- eat a piece of fruit
- make your bed
- do your dishes
- schedule a check-in at your local healthcare provider to monitor your health and well being
How to practice self-care
To help you plan an effective self-care routine, we've compiled a how-to guide for you to follow:
1. Identify the biggest cause of your stress or negative feelings
By identifying what is causing the most detriment to your mental and physical health, you can know which areas to target in your self-care routine. For example, if you're experiencing digestive concerns, this might be a signal for you to schedule a doctor's appointment and start eating some healthier foods.
While adopting random self-care routines can be beneficial, you may notice better results with a targeted approach. Through this, you can take more constructive steps to better the relationship with your mind and body.
2. Think about what makes you feel the best
You may be more likely to adopt habits that you truly enjoy, so when you're formulating a self-care plan, consider including activities that you enjoy the most. Fueling your brain in this way is a great way to encourage you to continue doing this, as your brain associates positive feelings with the activity. Remember, it's always self-care when it benefits your health and doesn't feel like a chore, so feel free to get creative!
3. Work out how you can fit this in your day
Your self-care routine needs to be sustainable, so it has to fit around your day-to-day routines. This means school, work and family needs to fit nicely around your 'you' time. If you're a particularly busy person with not a lot of time to yourself, consider having a healthy conversation with those around you about taking some time out for activities that benefit you!
You can also start off small with more manageable routines that you can implement just before you go to bed or when you wake up in the morning. However small the task is, as long as you're investing in yourself, it's self-care!
What are the 3 rules of self-care?
There aren't a lot of rules to self-care because it's an entirely subjective experience. Despite this, here are three guidelines you can abide by that might help you stick to a self-care plan:
- Make sure you engage in something you enjoy every single day
- Maintain your physical cleanliness everyday
- Commit yourself to being a better friend to you and build your inner strength
That concludes your guide to all things self care. Here's everything we covered:
- What self-care is
- Why self-care is important
- The health benefits of self-care
- What doesn't count as a self-care practice
- 30 self-care activities
- A how-to guide to self-care practices
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