Good health isn’t just about physical wellness, it's your emotional, mental, and social health, too. And no matter how fast-paced your lifestyle, you deserve a calm, quiet moment to give yourself a little daily nurturing. Studies show a regular self-care routine not only lowers stress levels, but it can also help you become more resilient so that you can thrive and live your best life.
Contrary to popular belief, self-care is not selfish, nor is it a waste of time. It’s vitally important to fill your own tank so that you are better able to care for those around you and bring your best self to the table. Self-care also isn’t about perfection — it’s an ongoing process and some days might be better than others. You also can’t wait until your tank is empty to do it. A little bit every day is better than a whole lot all at once. Self-care will also look a little different for everyone. Some people might find a morning run sets them up for the day, while others might find that the thought of running actually causes stress.
No matter where you’re starting from, we’ve got some ideas for some simple self-care routines you can do starting today, from hobbies and interests to simply meeting your basic needs.
Eat nutrient-dense foods. Nourishing your body on a cellular level ensures you have the energy you need to make it through each and every day with ease. Eating a diet that is balanced with protein, carbs, and fat at every meal — including plenty of vegetables — will help ensure your body is getting the nutrients it needs.
Hydrate. Dehydration leads to slowed brain functioning and has also been linked to depression and anxiety. Water is a nutrient your brain — and every system in your body — needs. Set reminders on your smartphone and keep a big reusable bottle next to you during the day to help you get your daily water intake.
Take a social media break. Seeing others post about how amazing their life is going can make you feel bad about yourself if things aren’t going as well for you. Not to mention all the doom and gloom in the news. Avoid the comparison trap and doom scrolling by taking a break from social media, and avoid checking your phone for at least an hour after you wake up.
Breathe. Whether you try meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, or simply take a handful of slow, deep breaths when you’re feeling anxious, taking a moment to notice your breath can help you better ground yourself to the present moment and calm your nervous system.
Get moving. Exercise offers tremendous benefits for our health, so make it a priority to get some movement in each day. You can break your day up with short walks around your neighbourhood, or join an online fitness class that piques your interest.
Snuggle your pet. Research shows that petting our animal companions not only helps to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, but it can also ease feelings of loneliness, and encourage exercise and playfulness.
Get more sleep. Research shows that those who are sleep-deprived have a harder time managing stress, so give yourself the gift of some extra zzzs a few times a week. Simply set an alarm to remind yourself that it’s bedtime, and schedule yourself an extra 15-30 minutes.
Say no. Doing things for others can certainly do wonders for helping you feel good about yourself, but it can also leave you feeling drained if you’re not careful. Learn to say no to things that you don’t have the time or interest for, or don’t fit your goals, and enjoy a slightly lighter schedule.
Write a “well-done” list. If the thought of a to-do list gets your heart racing, switch gears and write yourself a “well-done” list highlighting all the things you accomplished during the day or week. Looking back at your accomplishments can boost morale and give you a sense of pride.
Take a bath. There’s something healing about being in the water, so draw yourself a bath, light your favourite candle, and give yourself 30 minutes to just drown out the world.
Listen to an audiobook. Many people find reading an excellent form of self-care, but it can also be tiring. Listening to an audiobook offers the best of both worlds, with someone else doing the heavy lifting for you.
Have fun. Self-care should be fun, so make sure it’s something you enjoy and not just the boring things you feel like you should do. Binge-watch trashy reality television, sit down with a piece of paper and some crayons or play a board game with your kids to bring a little fun and play into your day.
Schedule it. It can be easy to let self-care fall by the wayside in the hustle and bustle of daily life, but it’s important to schedule it just like any other appointment in our day. Doing so will help ensure you actually take the time to fill your cup so you can be your best, healthiest self.