Taking care of your mental health is just as important as your physical health, especially during difficult times like right now. Practicing self-care is gives you a break from all of life stresses, even just a few minutes a day can benefit our mental health. If you don't have a self-care routine at home then it's time to get one! Now, my routine works for me, but it might not be the best for you! But don't worry, I did research to give you the information you need about self-care, why it matters and tips on how to improve it for a better well-being.
Why Self-Care Matters
Self-care is intentionally doing something for your mental, physical, and emotional well-being. It encourages us to have a healthy relationship with ourselves. So we can be the best version of ourselves for us, and for our loved ones around us. Because if we feel good and love ourselves then we can transmit that to those around us.
A few benefits are...
Gives you a break from stress
Taking an hour or even just 30 minutes doing something you enjoy will give you a break from reality and the stress surrounding it. It's like taking a mental and emotional vacation! Then once you're back to reality you'll feel refreshed and in a better mood to take on the rest of your day.
Helps us deal with life stresses better
With so many responsibilities one has, it can be easy to forget to look after your personal needs. But how can we handle our daily responsibilities when you're already physically and emotionally exhausted? We usually can't! It just leads to an endless cycle of stress, anger, frustration. When you take a break to look after yourself, you are able to handle life's stress much better.
Gives you alone time
Some people's form of self-care is being surrounded by their loved ones. But it is also very important to set aside some time alone. Spending time alone relaxing can help you self-reflect and can even help you resolve or let go of certain issues surrounding your life.
When you start looking after your own needs, you send a positive message to your self-consciousness. You're telling yourself that you matter, that your personal needs have value. This can help you minimize any negative self-talk that you may have done in the past, thus boosting your self-esteem.
That is why it is so important to practice self-care and to do things for your well-being. Simple things like eating right, making time to exercise in the morning, cutting off work once you get home, saying 'no' every once in a while, those are all examples of taking care of yourself. Everyone's routine is different. It really depends on your daily life and what makes you feel happy.
Self-care tips to improve well-being
So how do you start engaging in self-care?
Luckily there are many things you can do to start practicing self-care! What you choose to do depends on what works for you, what relaxes you, and what makes you happy. Do a bit of self-reflection and make a list of those things. Then set aside time to do those things every day. You don't have to do everything in one day, just pick one thing you want to focus on that day and do it.
If you need some ideas here are a few self-care practices to help you improve well-being...
Get enough sleep
Remember all those times your parents made you sleep early? You might have even fought and protested against them. Well, your parents were just looking out for your well-being, they knew how important your sleep schedule is in order for you to succeed in school the next day.
The same applies to this day! Everyone should aim to get 6-8 hours of sleep a night, not getting enough sleep will have a huge effect on you emotionally and physically. But it's not that easy, not everyone can fall asleep quickly. In fact, stress and other distractions can cause you to stay up late at night thinking about everything in the world!
If you have trouble getting enough sleep it's time to change your night routine. Here's a few things to do to help you go to sleep at a decent time...
- Don't drink caffeine or eat sugar in the evening. Set a strict time that forces you to stop drinking caffeinated drinks and sugary snacks. Trust me, this will help you fall asleep easier.
- Stop checking emails after a certain time. A lot of people are working from home right now so it can be difficult to set boundaries between your work and home life, but you have to! Set a strict time that forces you to stop working and never check your emails before bed! That will just cause you a lot of unwanted stress that will lead to bad sleep.
- Make your room a place free of distractions. Your bedroom is your sanctuary to sleep. It's not your workplace, home gym, home theater... It's your BEDroom. Make sure your room is the best possible place to get good REM sleep, so get rid of any distractions like your laptop or TV. Also set your phone somewhere far from your bed, this will help you resist the temptation to scroll social media endlessly all night and it will force you to get up in the morning to turn off your alarm!
Eat right and take care of your gut
Eating healthy is more than just for weight loss, it's for your mental health too. The types of foods you eat have an impact on your gut, the bacteria that lives in your stomach. An unhealthy gut can lead to an unhappy person. If you're constantly filling your stomach with junk food then you're just going to feel like junk! Just think about it, how do you feel after eating your favorite sweets and chips all day? Momentarily satisfied, but the aftermath is much worse. You feel sluggish, probably some stomach pain, and overall just bad!
Eat right for self-care. The food you eat has a long term effect on not only your body, but also your mind! So be mindful about what you feed yourself. If you want to feel good, more focused, and protect your body from diseases then nourish your body with whole natural foods. A few natural foods that impact your health positively are: berries, fatty fish, nuts, green leafy veggies, and lean meats.
Self-care is also about eating what makes you happy so don't forget to indulge in your favorite treats. Follow the 80/20 rule. Eat nutritious foods 80% of the time and allow yourself to indulge for the remaining 20% of your meals.
Are we surprised that I added this one? 😆
Just like eating right, exercising is more than just for weight loss. Regularly exercising helps boost your mood, reduce stress levels and anxiety, and can even help you focus better! 
Personally I love working out, it's a part of my self-care routine. But I also understand that it's not for everyone. Many people have this image about exercising and that's either an intense lifting session or tons of cardio.. but there's more to do than just that! Not everyone's routine is the same. So don't think of working out as something that needs to be difficult, just find something that you love that gets your body moving!
All you need to do is make a small change like waking up a little earlier to stretch in the morning, go on a walk, play your favorite sport outside, even just playing with your kids is a good way to get some exercise in! The point is to find something active that you enjoy and set aside time to do it everyday!
Spend time outdoors
This one might be tough, thanks to the Coronavirus. But if you live in an area where you are able to go out walking, running or hiking then do it! Studies have shown that spending time outside can help improve mental health, it can alleviate the feelings of pressure and stress. Not only that, it can help reduce fatigue, lower blood pressure, and recharge us and restore our attention! 
Try to spend more time outside by doing your workout outdoors, going on a walk with your dog, with a family member, or even alone, or even just sitting outside for a few minutes to self-reflect. Just make sure to reconnect with nature any chance you get.
Schedule a time for your self-care
With so many responsibilities it can be hard to find time to do something for yourself... Especially if you have kids! But remember that you're important too. So schedule a time every day to do something you love. Find a time that works best for you, like maybe wake up 30 minutes earlier to stretch and drink your cup of coffee outdoors. Or set aside some time at night for some 'me time' and do a face mask or read a book! The activity isn't important, it's making the time for it that is.
Being disorganized and not having any routine can lead to unwanted and unneeded stress. Get organized and start writing a to-do list. Every morning write down your responsibilities, appointments, even the little things like what you're cooking. Organizing your day will help you visualize everything that needs to get done so you can start knocking things down one by one. And don't forget to add 'me time' to your to-do list 😉
Just because we can't socialize and go out doesn't mean we have to stop pampering ourselves!
Here are a few things you can do:
- Diffuse some essential oils and take a warm bath
- Do a face mask
- Practice doing your own manicure and pedicures
- Deep condition your hair
- Try doing a new makeup look
It's so easy to just be in sweats 24/7 right now, but resist that urge. You don't have to dress up or do your makeup every day, but still do the things that make you look AND feel good.
Learn to say "no"
There have probably been multiple times in your life when you wanted to say "no", but said "yes" instead. But you did it anyways for the person you love like a friend or family member. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that, but you shouldn't do something you don't want to do at the expense of your own happiness. You can't make everyone happy, so if you're feeling tired or stressed and feel like saying "no" to an event or favor then say it! If you keep saying "yes" then you're just going to end up feeling burnt out and unhappy.
During this pandemic we can all use a little TLC - tender, love, care. If you're an essential worker, or even a parent taking care of the kids at home, remember to carve out time for YOU. Even if it's just 15 minutes, every second counts. For those who lost their jobs or are just stuck working at home, don't forget to take care of yourselves too! We all need self-compassion and self-love right now. For our mental and physical well-being and for those around us.
No matter what situation we are in, just remember to.... Live your best life for YOU 🙌🏼