Self-care has become somewhat of a buzzword recently, but the idea of caring for one’s own mental and physical well-being is far from new. You engage in self-care whenever you exercise, make a healthy food choice, or take a break from work. Perhaps unknown to you, these healthy choices have a huge impact on your mental health. If you want to stave off common mental disorders, boost productivity, and feel great from head to toe, try to give self-care a more active role in your day-to-day routine. Here are ways to get things started.
Make Time for Sleep
Many people think that they can be more productive if they sleep less. However, sleep deprivation has an adverse effect on our cognitive performance. In fact, The BedPost Blog claims that you can be much more productive when you’re well-rested, even if you work fewer hours. Plus, adequate sleep helps you manage your emotions during the day and consolidate memories to improve your school or work performance.
A good way to get more sleep is to set a bedtime alarm. This keeps the evening from slipping away from you as you tackle household chores or binge-watch shows. Pair this with a regular pre-sleep routine so you can trigger your body to relax at the appropriate time.
Give Your Brain a Real Break
Watching TV and browsing social media feels relaxing. However, these activities keep our minds in a state of stimulation, preventing us from reaching deep levels of restorative relaxation. Practicing deep relaxation at home is a wonderful way to relieve stress, especially if you’ve had a difficult day at work. When you deepen your breathing, slow your heart rate, and relax your muscles, your brain gets the signal that it’s okay to relax as well. This reduces anxiety and lowers levels of stress hormones in the body. Consider designing a special meditation space in your home where you can find serenity and be free from distractions. You can practice other forms of relaxation here as well, like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and yoga.
Learn to Love Your Workouts
Many of us exercise to improve our physique, but how many of us exercise to relieve anxiety and boost our mood? If you’re grinding out a daily workout that you hate, you’re missing out on some of the most valuable mental health benefits of exercise. Identify a style of exercise that appeals to you, whether that means exercising solo or getting together with a group. Choose specific activities that fit your lifestyle and interests rather than ones you think are the best for your body. For example, stick to indoor workouts if you dislike rain or extreme temperatures. Think about what kinds of activities you enjoyed as a child, such as team sports or biking, then try giving these a place in your current exercise routine.
Most of us fear being seen as selfish or lazy. As such, we tend to take on more than we can handle when it comes to work and our personal lives. A heavy workload and lack of control on the job often lead to chronic stress, which is a dangerous condition that has damaging physical and mental health effects. However, setting boundaries can be hard, especially if you’re in the habit of overworking. Mindbodygreen recommends letting go of your unrealistic expectations for yourself to avoid the inevitable self-judgment when you cannot meet them. Then, learn to say “no” rather than striving to people-please at every opportunity. Aim to make a good impression on people through confidence and high-quality work instead.
Caring for our mental health takes more awareness than you may think. The small, seemingly unimportant choices that you make each day, such as cutting your lunch break short to finish a project or pushing your bedtime back 30 minutes to scroll through Facebook, all add up to have an effect on your wellness. Try to incorporate greater awareness into your daily activities so you can make self-care an integral part of your regular routine.
Written by Brad Krause