Self-care as we see it on the Internet often yields a few images: bath bombs, fancy face masks, an elaborate skin care routine, and maybe some mimosas with brunch. In real life, self-care is simply taking care of your body and mind so you can keep going. It looks different for everyone, and it doesn’t always involve a lot of time or money. Here’s how to put yourself first without going broke.
- Get some alone time
Take some time for yourself each day. It doesn’t need to be much — just 15 minutes or so where you can be alone and do something you enjoy. This practice is important because often we spend so much time trying to meet deadlines and please other people. Find a little quality time where you can refocus and prioritize.
- Slow down
Many people spend their lives running around at breakneck speeds trying to get as much done as possible. Dr. Leslie Becker-Phelps, a psychologist who focuses on improving people’s relationships with others and with themselves by helping them improve self-awareness, suggests that slowing down and doing less allows us to savor positive aspects of our lives and focus on enjoyment.
Sometimes doing less might require delegating, sharing responsibilities, or learning to say “no.” The more you practice it, the better you’ll get. The more you are willing to give up some of the items you typically control, the more relaxed you’ll be.
- Practice mindfulness
It can be hard to stop your mind from trying to predict and anticipate concerns or events. Practicing mindfulness can help prevent you from worrying unnecessarily. When unwanted thoughts show up, remind yourself that you can’t predict the future. Engage in an activity that captures your attention. Hone in on some stress-management techniques such as taking deep breaths and smiling more often. You’ll be able to gain more clarity as you learn how to deal with negativity.
- Work on successful planning
Organize yourself so you can prepare more effectively for deadlines. Set mini-goals to simplify upcoming projects. Review plans so you don’t forget. It might help to give yourself a checklist. These kinds of lists can be included on your phone and synced between devices so you’ll be able to remember most effectively.
- Try some simple ways to increase sleep
Do a few simple things to increase the amount of sleep you get: limit the amount you eat at night, avoid long naps and darken the room you sleep in. Additionally, certain substances such as nicotine, caffeine and alcohol can disrupt your sleep pattern. If you have trouble falling asleep, write your concerns down and take care of them in the morning. You’ll be more energized and likely able to come up with good solutions.
- Play with your pup
According to the folks at Rover, the relationship we have with dogs “is a kind of powerful, moving simplicity that not only doesn’t pile on to the stresses of life but shows us the potential joys we weren’t able to see before.” Unlike our time spent with other humans, there are no politics, no drama, and no expectations — just love. That’s why snuggling with and caring for your four-legged friends can help you reduce stress and anxiety, an important aspect of self-care.
- Eat more vegetables
Research has shown that eating vegetables and fruits that are high in fiber can reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer. Vegetables provide a strong source of antioxidants and chemicals that promote physical and mental health as well. Start eating a couple more servings of fruits and vegetables each week and move up from there.
- Move more
Sometimes it can feel like if you’re going to start working out, you’ll live at the gym. However, studies have shown that the benefits of exercise are cumulative. Doing just a little bit can go a long way. Whether it’s taking an extra walk each day or walking those extra flights of stairs, rest assured that the little that you do can have real health benefits.
- Control screen time
According to Big Think, studies have consistently shown that moderating your time on social media sites can have a positive influence on overall well-being. There is a lot of fear and negativity that is encountered online. Find ways to reduce your time spent in the digital world, so you can appreciate the time you spend in the physical one.
Self-care is surprisingly simple. When you learn how to delegate and say “no,” you can balance what’s on your plate and minimize stress. As you incorporate more good habits into your life, you’ll find greater happiness.