July 24th is International Self Care Day and we want to emphasize the importance of caring for yourself, especially when there are others that depend on you to help care for them. As with our previous post, Managing and Minimizing Caregiver Stress During the Holiday Season, we want to give you some tools and ideas to help manage stress and take care of yourself, which will ensure you are better able to care for your loved ones in turn.
Self-care is important for our physical and mental health, and only works if you listen to your body. If you need to take a physical break take a few minutes to breath, or if you need a mental break go for a short walk (nature does wonders for stress).
Here are 10 ways to improve your live through self-care:
- Get outside: There is much research that shows the benefits of taking a walk in a park and enjoying time in nature. Not only does it get the blood flowing and your body moving, but it is psychologically calming to take in nature, so get out there and take a half hour walk to stretch your legs and calm your mind.
- Do some yoga/stretches: You don’t need to be a yoga master to feel the benefits of stretching. Tension builds up in our body throughout the day and a good practice is to start the day with some stretches in the morning (maybe in the shower) and to do some in the evening. Whether you’re just reaching for the sky then touching your toes, or doing planks and downward dog poses, you’ll feel the benefit of stretching out your stiff muscles within days.
- Plan some healthy meals: Take some time to work more vegetables into your meals and cook at home. Even if you’re not a pro chef you can pick up some quick tips on YouTube or Food Network that will get you making stir fry’s like the best of them.Bonus: Drink more water, dehydration can creep up on you and put stress on your body so make sure you have a bottle handy.
- Turn your phone off after dinner: Sometimes you need to unplug. In our ever-connected world we are constantly bombarded with messages, ads, and more. Especially at night, the buzzing of your phone can be distracting and affect your sleep patterns, which eventually affects us physically and mentally. Turn the phone off, or at the list use your ‘do not disturb’ feature to stop the constant buzzing from notifications and unwind.
- Tidy up your space: Clutter can build up over time (or in some cases very quickly) and usually brings some stress with it. Whether its dishes on the counter, papers on your desk, or laundry in a pile on the floor, take a few minutes to sort through things, throw out what you don’t need, and file/put away what you do need/want. Mentally you will thank yourself.
- Read your favorite book: Whether it’s a fantastic tale, an auto-biography, or a how-to book, reading is a great way to escape for a few moments (or an entire day) and take your mind off the stresses of the real world. This also stimulates your mind and works your brain in beneficial ways.
- Breathe deeply: Take a few moments right now, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Fill your lungs as full as possible. The extra oxygen will wake you up and feel refreshing, and your lungs will stretch your rib cage for you (see #2). As an extra, use a diffuser with some essential oils to add some scents to the air. Something like peppermint will really revitalize your breathing and lighten your mood.
- Practice saying “No”: So often we say yes to every request that comes our way, even if we don’t want to, or are over loaded. Practice saying no if there is something that is too much for you to handle or if the task is something you really dislike. There are usually other ways to do things, or the person will be understanding and find a way to make things work. In the end, you’ll feel much better than being overwhelmed or uncomfortable.
- Treat yourself: Indulge in something you normally wouldn’t. Go for ice cream, buy something online, get a massage. If you are able to spend a little extra then by all means treat yourself. If money is a little tight, instead treat yourself with time. Call in sick, take vacation time, or take the long way back from lunch (don’t worry we won’t tell).
- Get a check-up: Many of us put off, or forget to schedule an annual check-up with our family doctors. Regular check-ups can help our peace of mind and discover any physical issues before they become too intense. Take some time today to book an appointment if it’s been some time since you last saw your family doctor.
Self-care isn’t about making a lot of changes all at once, start with one thing and continue to add little changes to your day that focus’ on you.