Self Care Habits for a Healthy Mind
Here’s a sad fact: the term “self-care” comes in at the bottom 10 percent of words in the English language, according to Merriam-Webster. That’s very telling of a society that prioritizes the image of health and happiness over actual wellness. But practicing self-care is important for people of all ages, and it isn’t as difficult as you might think.
Here are the top overlooked aspects of self-care that you can change right now.
Sleep. There are numerous consequences of sleep deprivation including reduced mental alertness and fatigue. But insomnia can also trigger a host of emotional issues including depression and anxiety. The American Psychological Association also notes that sleep deprivation is a major problem in the United States, with more than 40 million Americans dealing with chronic sleep problems. In order to get the recommended six to eight hours each night, consider maintaining a regular sleep-wake schedule, avoiding alcohol within three hours of bedtime, and regulating the temperature in your bedroom.
Limiting personal time intrusions. If you’ve ever found yourself wanting to say “no” when asked to take on an extra project at work, babysit a neighbor’s children, or head a committee at your children’s school, you know how stressful taking on a task you don’t have time to can be. Part of your overall self-care plan should include giving yourself permission to make time for yourself and your family without intrusions. You do not have to be all things to all people all the time. You will be more effective at the many roles you take on each day if you take the time to just be yourself and do the things you love.
Indulging. While true self-care doesn’t revolve around spa treatments and expensive theater tickets, there is nothing wrong with indulging once in a while. This is especially true throughout the holiday season when good food and good company are in abundance. But it does not have to be Christmas to give yourself a gift. Take a spa day, eat a giant slice of cake, hit the road for a few days at the beach, or simply settle in with a good book and let the chores pile up. Do whatever takes to get your mind off the stress of the day. Everyone deserves an opportunity to reward themselves for getting through the grind.
Relaxation. Perhaps more important than the occasional indulgence is giving yourself the time and space to unwind and decompress at the end of each day. Many people do this by going to the gym after work, but another option is to create a meditation room in your home. HomeAdvisor explains this should be an isolated area with plenty of natural light and a view of the outside world. Even if you choose not to actually meditate, you can use this space as a transition zone where you can separate yourself from work or school and feel more at ease at home.
Stress reduction. If you are perpetually stressed out, it may be time to learn how to take control of your environment, lifestyle, and emotions. In addition to getting enough sleep and learning how to relax, Psychology Today recommends lifestyle changes that include sharing your thoughts and feelings with your friends and family and learning how to focus on one task at a time. You’ll also feel less stressed out with a clean and clutter-free home, car, and workspace. Learn to practice breathing exercises and excuse yourself from stressful situations for a few moments to give your brain the opportunity to process what’s going on. This way, you aren’t tempted to react negatively and create more stress for yourself.
You don’t have to go on permanent vacation to enjoy the benefits of self-care. Actions such as getting enough sleep, taking time for yourself, and escaping via the occasional indulgence will help you feel good from the inside out.