Self care is not pedicures and bubble baths. Self care is giving yourself the attention and nurturing you need to live out your life values. Self care day doesn’t have to be an occasional or infrequent splurge. These 7 easy practices will make every day a self care day.
Why Self Care Should be a Daily Priority
It is all too easy to spend your days going from one task to the next on autopilot. You take pride in how much you accomplish and doing essential things for other people, that so often your own needs fall to the wayside. That is, until you are run down, burned out, and are forced to come to terms with the areas of your life that are lacking.
This is especially true if you struggle with depression, anxiety, or any other mental health disorder. Self care actions are incredibly important to incorporate into your routine. Doing things that are productive for our mood and mental health can be incredibly difficult and draining, but make a huge difference in our overall outlook and recovery. When we find small changes to make, we can reap life changing benefits.
So whether your mental health is top notch or not, these 7 self care activities can help you to nourish your mind and body in a way that will leave you feeling energized, clear-headed, and fulfilled.
What is Self Care
Self care is any activity that you can do that will decrease stress in your life and increase your well-being. This ranges from getting a manicure to exercising to sitting a reading a good book. While somethings may truly be occasional treats or actions that we do, it is important to look at how you can incorporate ways to improve your well being with self care day to day, not just once in awhile.
7 Ways To Make Every Day Self Care Day
These 7 self care activities to do every day will cost you nothing extra and add so much to your life. You do not need to set aside hours of time or spend half your paycheck to do something kind and beneficial for yourself.
1. List Your Top 5
Stop fretting over your never ending to do list and figure out what really matters. While there are probably more than 5 things you want to do during the day, make a separate list of the top 5. No, this isn’t more work for you- this is to put things into perspective.
We often have little control over how our days go. Things come up, we get pulled in 20 directions, and some things will go undone. This does not mean your day is wasted because you didn’t cross 30 things off your list. Look at your list, or think about the day ahead of you. Choose the TOP 5 things that are musts for the day. Choose items that, if crossed off, you know you had a good and productive day. All the other tasks can wait if they need to.
Better yet, make at least ONE of those things something that is JUST for you. Whether it be painting your nails, getting a walk in, or reading a chapter from your favorite book. Prioritize yourself along with the rest of your responsibilities.
If journaling seems unfamiliar to you, there are two types that are worth looking into and trying out. Morning pages and daily gratitude. Each serves a different purpose but increases brain space, improves mood, and allows for abundance and creativity to flow into your life.
Morning pages is a technique created by Julia Cameron. It is waking up in the morning and allowing your stream of consciousness to hit three pages through your writing. You write anything from “I forgot to buy toilet paper yesterday” to “I am so stressed and anxious about my work meeting today”. You unleash the chaos in your head to make room for new ideas, fresh perspectives, clarity, and creativity. By reflecting on your pages, you may see themes or notice thoughts that are worth exploring further to help you better handle situations in your life. If nothing else, it is a wonderful way to brain dump first thing in the morning!
Gratitude journaling can help put the day into perspective as well as reduce anxiety and stress . So often the stress and troubles of the day weight so heavy we can forget about the wonderful things that happened. This is an opportunity to sit, feel, and write about all the wonderful things that happened during the day you are grateful for.
3. Eat Regular Meals
Eating is something that we do every day. With my clients, and many people with disordered eating patterns, it becomes a chore or a fear to be hungry and have to “succumb” to eating at some point in the day.
While what we eat does have an impact on our mood, how we eat plays an even bigger part. As humans, we should be eating every 3-5 hours and including a balance of nutrients at each meal when we can. This allows our bodies to digest, metabolize, and have trust in food availability.
We can then have the energy to do what we need to and want to do during our day. The 10am or 3pm slump does not need to be a part of our vocabulary if we are eating and moving in a way to truly nourish our bodies.
This can mean making time for breaks at work, prioritizing breakfast in the morning, or meal prepping some food so you have dinner on busy days. Whatever way works best for you, it can make a big impact once you learn how to include regular mealtimes into even your busiest days.
4. Get A Good Night’s Sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep is imperative for your well being. This can be easier said than done, especially if you suffer from a depression or anxiety, both of which can make sleeping difficult. On the flip side, those who get very little sleep (those who suffer from insomnia) are at a higher risk of depression and anxiety.
The National Sleep Foundation states that those with insomnia are 10 times as likely to have clinical depression and 17 times as likely to have clinical anxiety as those who get a solid 7-9 hours a night. There is such a strong relationship between the two that developing good sleep hygiene can truly make or break your mood and mental health state.
5. Make A Meaningful Connection
So often we become wrapped up in our day to day lives, and depending on your occupation and your schedule, experiencing a significant connection with someone you care about might not happen. Social connection can have a significant impact on your health and wellbeing, not just your facebook friend count. Prioritize this self care activity to see an abundance of benefit.
To make a meaningful connection every day can be as elaborate as visiting and spending the day enjoying a good friend’s company or as quick as sending your mom a “hope you are doing well, I am thinking about you” text. Make it a point to reach out to one person you care about each day and strengthen the connections that matter the most to you.
6. Move Your Body
Now, this doesn’t have to be intense exercise, or making a special trip to the gym. Do what works for you to make a connection to and show appreciation to your body. Whether you love running outdoors, getting a sweat session in at the gym, or don’t actually like exercise, you can make moving your body a daily habit.
Stretching your muscles can be a very relaxing experience that also helps keep your joints and muscles flexible while increasing the feel good hormones in your body. Try a few yoga poses each day and increase oxygenated blood to your brain, improve your circulation, and take a quick time out to do something just for yourself.
7. Laugh A Little
Life can be pretty serious, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take a break and just.. yak it up a bit, ya know? Laughter has been found to contribute short and long term benefits to our health and wellbeing- meaning getting in a daily chuckle might be worth it.
Laughter can activate and release your stress response, leading to an immediate relaxed feeling afterwards, soothe tension, and provide oxygen rich blood to your organs (just like exercise!). In the long term, laughter can possibly improve your immune system, create natural pain killers in your body, and improve your mood and personal satisfaction.
Things That Can Get In the Way of Self Care
Depression and Anxiety
When suffering from depression or anxiety, the thought of doing “extra” just for yourself can seem incredibly daunting. Along with taking your medication as prescribed (if needed) and seeing your therapist, including some of all of these daily self care activities into your routine can have a positive short and long term effect on your mood. If all 7 self care activities seem too much, pick two or three that seem the most important to you or the most doable. Try to include some self care day after day and be kind to yourself if you can’t.
Too Busy Doing For Others
It is too easy to spend the whole day taking care of people, cleaning up after people, and doing what needs to be done. Just keep in mind that your wellbeing and health matters most to those around you too. To avoid burnout and keep doing what you need for those you love, you need to prioritize yourself. These are great ways to make each and every day a self care day!
So get started by adding one or two of these self care activities each week until you have all 7 established as natural daily habits! Your self care is important. Pedicures, massages, and bubbles baths are nice too- don’t forget those when you need a little “extra”!
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