Self Care, Part 2

Self Care: Part One mainly focused on learning how to set SMART goals. Now that you know how to set realistic goals for yourself, let’s explore other ways to engage in self-care:.

 

Remember:, self-care comes in many forms and varying degrees of difficulty, and your own personal self-care  all depends on you as an individual, and what your needs and wants are. I’ve compiled a list of 10 simple ways you can engage in self-care. Please keep in mind that this list has no specific ranking, and you could can choose to follow as few or as many of these tips as you want as part of your self-care routine.,  However, you’ll notice that many of these tips go hand-in-hand.

Hydrate

Staying hydrated is one of the most important ways to stay healthy. If you’re feeling thirsty, chances are that you’re already dehydrated. Some benefits of proper hydration include combatting fatigue, reducing high blood pressure, flushing out unwanted bacteria from your kidneys, slowing the aging process, and stopping unwanted weight gain. Remember that mental and physical health go handinhand, and when you’re taking care of yourself physically, it’s easier to take care of yourself mentally, and vice versa!

Limit Your Screen Time

Poor sleep can intensify symptoms of depression, so it is crucial that you pay attention to your sleep hygiene. Numerous studies have shown that blue light from a screen is harmful to sleep. By avoiding screens an hour before bedtime, your brain starts to relax, making it easier for you to fall asleep.

Sleep

This ties right in with limiting your screen time. Having adequate sleep not only sharpens your attention and improves your memory, it also lowers your stress and risk of depression. When you are less stressed, you have better control of both your blood pressure and your cholesterol levels, which play a role in your cardiovascular health.

Journal

If you’ve ever been in counselling, you will likely have experienced being given homework assignments, likely keeping some sort of journal or tracking activity. Keeping a journal is a good way to be reflective of your personal experiences. If you’ve had a bad experience, reflect on the 5 W’s (who/what/when/where/why) of that experience. You can even take that a step further and explore what you could have done differently to turn that experience around. It’s equally important to journal positive experiences. Positive experiences could likely be a reflection of progress in some aspect of your life, or be a positive motivation to you on a bad day.

Breathing Exercises

When you are feeling stressed or angry, your muscles tense up and your breathing becomes shallow. Deep breathing allows you to get more oxygen, thus releasing tension. Breathing exercises can also relax the mind and body by getting the necessary oxygen to your brain, and help with clearing uneasy feelings out of your body, and elevating your mood.

A Healthy Work-Life Balance

By maintaining a healthy work-life balance, you’re setting yourself up for a better quality of life. You’ll likely see that your wellbeing will improve. Sacrificing too much of your time for work won’t take long to start having negative effects like increased stress, constant bouts of illnesses due to a weakened immune system, and non-stop exhaustion. A healthy work-life balance will also keep you more productive, and give you more “me” time.

Many people work jobs that require a lot of time and effort, and sometimes large amounts of downtime just isn’t possible if you want to succeed. That’s why you have to find a balance. For example:, if possible, work from home on some days, or don’t sacrifice your free time just to put the extra hours in every single day.

Physical Activity

In addition to all of the physical health benefits associated with exercising, it has also been also known to improve your mood and boost your energy. If you can’t make it to the gym, taking a brisk walk helps too, as long as you get up and do something! Physical activity is a great way to blow off some steam after a tough day. Nothing better than looking and feeling good!

Eat Better

What you eat impacts your brain, and this includes the parts that regulate your mood. Foods that are vitamin and mineral rich, like fruits, veggies, whole grains and fatty fish, have been associated with a lower risk of depression. Now hear me out on this one! Eating better is not to say that you should never have that Big Mac, just make sure that you’re not having it every day.

Learn to Say ‘No’

When you’re overcommitted and under too much stress, you’re more likely to feel rundown. It could be saying no to that weekly late night dinner with a friend to get a few extra hours of sleep, to saying no to an extra shift at work. Many people don’t say no because they are afraid of being faced with a negative reaction. A tip for saying ‘no’ is to be quick with the response. That is, don’t hold up someone’s plans when you know you’re declining the invite. Be honest about why you’re saying no. If you have other commitments, or you just need to rest, let them know. You could also suggest an alternative like naming someone else that could take your place, or asking for a raincheck.

Take a Step Towards Tackling Something You’ve Been Avoiding

This could be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. If you’ve been feeling anxious about not finishing that report, but choosing to binge-watch your favourite Netflix show instead, you’re adding to your stress and anxiety. By finishing that report, you’re taking a lot off of your shoulders. Or it could be something more lifealtering: You’ve been telling yourself that you’re going to quit smoking for years, but never take the initiative to do so. Going to see a professional to explore cessation options may be the first step in the right  direction.

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