What comes to mind when you think of self-care? Candle-lit bubble baths and treating yourself to (several) milk chocolates? Long walks on far-away tropical beaches? Going to swank spas or getting deep tissue massages? Ooo la la, those are certainly luxurious sentiments, but - with work, kids, homework, appointments, etc. - who has time for all that? In the famous words of the popular meme, "ain't nobody got time for that!"
In today's fast-paced society, we need self-care, and we need it now. Let's take a look at some basic evidence-based self-care practices that are readily accessible in everyday life.
While reading, consider this: How might you incorporate small consistent daily actions into your daily routine? How might these changes lead to self-caring behaviors? Read on for my top 10 self-care suggestions:
1. Social distancing! During a global pandemic, we have the choice to practice daily self-care by considering our health; wearing masks and staying six feet from others can prevent the spread of communicable diseases. Do your part!
2. Take your medicine! It is vital that we take measures of self-care through taking prescribed medications. Additionally, taking a daily multivitamin is always a good self-care practice.
3. Add water! Whether it is drinking it or showering in it, adding water to our daily routine equals self-care. I get it, sometimes we don't feel like taking a bath or even showering - but, if we can muster the motivation for even a 3-minute shower, we can achieve that day's H20 self-care goal.
Furthermore, if you can make the time for that bubble bath, it can be quite tranquil and soothing. I recommend adding Epsom salt to ease muscle aches.
As for our daily water intake: we can start off small by committing to drinking one 4-ounce glass of water in the morning. I like adding lemon to add citrus zest that energizes and boosts my immune system. It also wakes up our organs and gives our bodies much-needed hydration after having slept for 7- 8 hours.
4. Speaking of sleep: adequate rest equals self-care! Our bodies are built to use energy during the day and rest at night. Forget about burning the midnight oil; studies have shown that getting enough sleep can help our brains perform at peak functional levels. Get some shut-eye and thank me in the morning.
5. Make time to notice the beauty in nature! We can increase our spiritual self-care by simply taking a 5-minute walk. Getting out in nature gives us the chance to change our perspectives, catch some rays of sunshine (our bodies need it for Vitamin D), and appreciate the world around us.
6. Take a deep breath! Ok, so we all do it automatically, but taking just a few minutes each day to focus only on our breath can be a calming and centering self-care activity. Try setting a small goal of 5 deep breaths in and out each day. Consider how you feel before, during, and after.
7. Journaling! We can easily increase our psychological self-care through the daily practice of putting pen to paper; expressing our thoughts can become a comforting sanctuary where we can release thoughts, fears, or frustrations, or write about what we would like to accomplish.
8. Be creative! Another way we can care for ourselves is allowing time to create something; whether it is a healthy dinner, a cute craft for the upcoming holiday, or creating art with the kids, we can get out of our everyday thoughts and allow our inner artists to express themselves!
9. Gratitude! What are you grateful for? The roof over your head? Hot showers? Chocolate? One study shows that writing three things we are grateful for every day can rewire our brains to naturally be more grateful. Keeping a notepad or gratitude journal in plain sight can help you to create and maintain this healthy habit.
10. Reaching out to friends! We, as human beings, are creatures who enjoy community - think tribal times, cliques, clubs, sports teams and their fanbases, etc. - we generally want to be a part of interpersonal interactions that help us create and maintain meaning in our lives. By setting a goal of reaching out to 3-5 friends or family members per week we can maintain meaningful connections with others.
BONUS PRO TIP: 11. Keep a routine! We can set and maintain healthy self-care habits more easily by keeping a daily and nightly routine. Routines can be comforting because we know what is in store.
Planning self-care tips into our daily routine can provide periodic moments of mindfulness and calm throughout the day.
Thanks for reading! Take (self-)care!
Laura Cooper, CSW, MSSW, TCADC
Clinical Social Worker
Laura enjoys helping clients empower themselves with stress management techniques, coping skills, and necessary resources along their journey to improved mental health and wellbeing.
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