When life gets busy, our own well-being may fall to the bottom of the list of priorities. We get caught up with meal planning, doctor appointments and prepping for a big meeting, ultimately failing to make time for ourselves. Being self-ish by practicing self-care is a good thing. You need to put yourself first or you’re no good to anyone or you’ll be drained, with nothing left to give. No need to worry. Some simple self-care practices can help you replenish and feel your best.
A popular phrase these days, self-care includes just about anything that makes you feel good. Simply put, it’s about being kind to yourself, which is so important for your physical, mental and emotional health.
We often hear from patients that when they practice self-care – whether that’s by taking a walk, watching a funny movie or relaxing on the beach – they’re at their best. They feel whole and as a result are a better friend, more supportive wife, more patient mother and motivated colleague.
Good news is there are countless self-care practices, and none of them are terribly difficult, costly or require a lot of planning. Spend time figuring out what you enjoy and what works best in your life. Some of our top self-care tips include:
- Say No. Turning down an invitation or declining to volunteer for the school field trip is completely OK. When you’re overcommitted and tired, or simply not interested in an activity, you won’t enjoy the experience if you agree to go. Saying no is not being selfish; it’s caring for your own emotional and physical needs.
- Breathe. If you’ve been to a yoga class (or maybe even if you haven’t), you know about the power of the breath. When you’re focused on your breathing, you connect to your body, appreciate its magnificent abilities and feel grounded and calm.
- Keep a Journal. We are big fans of journaling, dating back to the days when we began our entries as ‘Dear Diary.” Writing in a journal can encourage mindfulness. When you are honestly and actively engaging with your thoughts, you’ll find this clarity helps in many aspects of your life, from relationships to decision-making.
- Meditate. Our mind jumps from one stream of thought to another as we make our way through the day. Learning how to quiet these voices inside your head, even for just 10 minutes a day, may be difficult at first, but try to stick with it. Find a form of meditation that you enjoy, whether it’s repeating a mantra, guided meditation or another type. With practice, you’ll begin to feel more relaxed, less stressed and you may sleep better.
- Eat Nutritiously. As part of your self-care practice, be sure to provide your body with a variety of fruits and vegetables, grains, protein, essential fats, vitamins and minerals, all of which are necessary to live, grow and function properly. Recognizing that a significant percentage of the adult population is deficient in key nutrients, talk to your doctor about your lifestyle and diet, and consider supplementing based on your own individual nutritional needs.
- Exercise Regularly. Exercise has an impact on weight loss/management, cholesterol, blood pressure, bone health, sleep, stress levels and more. Guidelines suggest that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week, or a combination of the two. Go swimming, plant flowers or train for a 5k race. With the appropriate amount of exercise, you’ll feel the physical, emotional and mental benefits of that calorie burn.
- Make a Date. Commit to social experiences with people who make you feel good. Meet a friend for a relaxing coffee date or schedule dinner with friends who are “in the know” about the trendiest restaurants. The interactions and designated “you” time will go a long way in feeling your best.
- Do nothing. There’s no shame in taking time to unplug from the demands of life. In fact, giving your brain much-needed downtime will improve your mental health. So, take a few minutes to sit, relax and simply enjoy the quiet, the stillness and the solitude.
Romy Block and Arielle Levitan are physicians who created Vous Vitamin® to provide people everywhere with quality vitamins that are suited to their individual needs. They are the authors of The Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear the Confusion About Vitamins and Your Health.