Self-Care Practices You Should Prioritize for This Year
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Modern life can feel stressful, relentless and exhausting. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic and recession have added to many people’s workload, mental strain, and even feelings of loneliness and uncertainty. It’s no wonder that many of us are burned out before we’ve even started the day’s work.
If you are struggling with a life that feels unsatisfying or unremitting, it’s time to put a self-care plan in place for this year. It’s impossible to enjoy life to the full if your cup is constantly empty. So set some time aside to think about how you can nurture your physical and emotional well-being with both big and small acts of self-care.
In this article, we’ll show you the best self-care practices so that you can begin to take care of number one.
Stress in the USA
Even before the pandemic, America was in the midst of a stress crisis. Research suggested that 57% of adults felt paralyzed by stress, and at least one-third had visited their doctor for a stress-related issue. If you are feeling overwhelmed, you are not alone.
Self-care has been proven to help alleviate stress and anxiety, and can even make you more productive. However, if self-care isn’t something that you’re used to doing, you’ll have to dedicate yourself to putting a little effort in, as it won’t just happen naturally.
Like all the best plans, it’s a good idea to set a start date and stick to it. If the holiday season is all-consuming, take the pressure off and set a more realistic date early in the new year to give self-care your best shot.
Until then, think about which self-care resolutions will best suit your personality and your lifestyle.
What is self-care?
The American Psychological Association (APA) defines self-care as “providing adequate attention to one’s own physical and psychological wellness” .
Supporting wellness is important not only for your physical and mental health but for that of those around us, too. If your health begins to decline, it may make you less able to perform well in your job, or manage your role as a parent, partner, or friend.
Self-care involves looking after your body and mind, so that your psychological and physical health are at their best.
Self-care practices for the body
It has long been understood that physical exercise can change hormone responses to create exercise-induced euphoria, reduce pain perception and combat fatigue. Physical self-care practices will not only positively benefit your body but could also boost levels of feel-good hormones to improve your mood and self-esteem.
1. Get physical
It doesn’t really matter what you choose, but getting physical could be the first step in taking care of yourself. Follow an online yoga course, dance in your kitchen, go for a swim, run or cycle. Move your body, even if you feel tired, and see how you feel afterwards. You could find the endorphin rush helps you to feel less fatigued.
2. Eat healthily
Some foods contain tryptophan, an amino acid that is converted to the happy hormone serotonin by the brain. Serotonin can help to improve the way you feel. Some researchers believe that healthy eating will not only nourish your body, but could also improve your cognitive function and give your mood a boost. Foods that contain tryptophan include eggs, turkey, salmon, tofu, cheese, pineapple and seeds or nuts.
3. Get enough sleep
There is evidence to suggest that not getting enough sleep is a causal factor of mental health problems. Commit to going to bed at the same time each night, create a calm, relaxing environment in your bedroom, and avoid using screens for one hour before bed each night.
Take the time to lie out on the floor and really stretch your body. Pay attention to the way your body feels, as well as any areas of stiffness or discomfort. Book in for a massage, or ask a friend or partner to ease away any tension from your shoulders.
5. Take a warm bath
Set aside one evening a week to luxuriate and relax in the bath. Not only will the warmth ease away aches and pains, but lying beneath the bubbles will also give you valuable time to practice gratitude and mindfulness without distractions. All of these mental health practices are valuable forms of self-care that can be combined with the physical relaxation of taking a bath.
Self-care practices for the mind
Mental self-care ideas vary greatly. Some are easy to implement, whereas others require a little more time and dedication. Select three or four that you think you could introduce into a normal week into new year, and give each one a try.
1. Book therapy sessions
Investing in counseling or therapy is one of the best ways to show compassion to yourself. If you can prioritize your own well-being in this way, a professional can help you to understand your own emotions, anxieties, and concerns so that you feel more confident in tackling life’s challenges.
2. Write in a journal
Treat yourself to a new journal and jot down any thoughts or worries that come to mind. You don’t need to write in long, flowing sentences. Even bullet points are fine. Just make a note of how you are feeling, anything that is troubling you, or any tasks that you need to complete. Getting your troubles out of your head and onto paper can get you halfway to resolving the issue.
Once you get the hang of journaling, it may become a healthy, creative outlet for your thoughts.
3. Perform acts of kindness
Being kind to others can help you feel better about yourself. Offer directions to someone who is lost or ask your elderly neighbor if they need any groceries next time you pop into the store. Small acts of kindness can have a big impact on those around you, which can then give you a boost, too.
Similarly, if someone else asks if they can help you, let them! Prioritize your mental health over your pride, and accept an offer of someone else cleaning your kitchen or taking out your trash.
4. Practise saying no
This may be the year when you learn to say “no.” This may sound negative, but accepting that you cannot do it all may help you to keep on top of both the essentials and the things that are most important to you. Saying no may be vital to helping you avoid burnout.
5. Switch off social media
If endless scrolling is bringing you down or making you feel inadequate, it’s time to take a break. Deactivate your social media accounts, and focus on real life for as long as you need.
6. Create a calm environment
Take steps to make your home your sanctuary. Pay a company to complete a deep clean, declutter certain rooms, and make sure you have space to relax in peace.
Americans have been pushed to their limits by modern life, the pandemic, and the recession. Practicing self-care is vital for ensuring you can take care of your body and mind for optimum overall health. From our guide, you can select self-care resolutions that will best suit your needs and your lifestyle, giving you the best start to new year.
If you could benefit from online therapy as part of your self-care plan, get in touch with us today.