No matter your age or gender, self-care is important. Far from being selfish, self-care gives you the strength and stamina to be your best for others and for yourself. Why do you need self-care? Having regular self-care rituals will reduce stress and help you be more productive too. If you have limited time, as most people do, your self-care practices shouldn’t take a lot of time. The suggestions that follow require only small amounts of time but offer substantial returns.
Open Up the Blinds
When you wake up in the morning, open the curtains or blinds, and let natural light in. Exposing your eyes to light early in the day helps properly set your internal biological clock. Studies show that people whose eyes soak up natural light before noon are more likely to be at ideal body weight and metabolically healthy. Another study showed natural light exposure combats feelings of sadness and depression and even improves sleep quality. If you can’t get outside to enjoy the light directly, the next best thing is to let the light shine in.
Write in a Journal
People are healthiest when they can freely express their thoughts, dreams, and worries rather than keeping them locked up inside. Get your thoughts and feelings out in the open, including ones you wouldn’t share with other humans, by writing in a journal a few times per week, or every day if you wish. Writing in a journal has other perks too. It encourages self-reflection, helps with goal setting, and boosts creativity.
Practice Positive Self Talk
How do you talk to yourself? Hopefully, it’s with kindness. Oftentimes, people consciously or unconsciously whisper negative things to themselves. If you do this long enough, this self-directed negativity becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and you start to believe the negative talk. Realize that you have value and don’t need people around you to determine your worth. Find inspiring and positive quotes you can use as your own mantras when you’re feeling down or negative. How you talk to yourself matters.
Take a Short Walk in Nature
Nature is the best mental and physical therapy there is. Studies show that walking in nature or in green spaces reduces the stress hormone cortisol, a hormone that can cause mood changes. In fact, a 2015 study found that when people walked for 90 minutes in nature, they experienced less activity in a portion of the brain involved in rumination and worry. Those who walked in an urban environment didn’t.
If you don’t have a natural environment to walk in, bring nature into your home or office. Fill it with beautiful plants and open the curtains during the day so you can soak up the sun. An aquarium is another way to appreciate that miracle of nature indoors. Plus, research shows watching fish in an aquarium lower heart rate and blood pressure.
Drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up in the morning and sip on it often. Studies show even mild dehydration, to the degree you don’t yet feel thirsty, can cause fatigue and reduce motivation. Most people get so busy during the day that they forget to hydrate. Carry a stainless steel water bottle with you so fresh water is always available to you.
Find the Humor
Laughing is good for your body, mind, and soul and, after childhood, most people don’t do enough of it. Just because you grow up, it doesn’t mean you have to take life too seriously. Give yourself permission and the time to read a funny book, watch a comedy, or listen to an upbeat, engaging podcast. When you laugh, it lowers your blood pressure, expands your lung capacity, and boosts your mood. Sometimes that’s just what you need.
There’s nothing that will turn your mood around faster than expressing gratitude. Here’s how to make yourself more aware of your blessings. Each morning when you wake up, lift five fingers. As you think of each thing you’re grateful for, fold one finger down. Repeat until all five fingers are in a downward position. Remember those things as you go about your busy day. Let the universe know you’re thankful for the blessings you have. Doing this will change your perspective and refocus your mind on the positive.
The Bottom Line
Make self-care a priority and it will transform your life. The time you take to boost your physical and mental health will pay off with more stamina, less stress, and the motivation and good health to help yourself and others. Don’t forget about the basics like eating a healthy diet and getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night either. Combine it with these seven self-care tips and you’ll be on your way to better mental and physical health.