12 Essential Ways To Take Care Of Yourself
Are you taking care of yourself?
Everyone gets caught up in their daily routines. In fact, getting caught up is the whole point of having routines.
Routines help you get through the day while accomplishing your goals. You wake up every day knowing exactly what you're going to take care of without giving it much thought.
But because your routines are habitual, it's all too easy to forget to take care of YOU.
Self-care is critical to your overall well-being, physical health, and even your productivity.
If you don't set aside time to take care of yourself each day, you'll become overworked, overstressed, overwhelmed — or even sick.
Are you making a point to pay attention to what your body, mind, and spirit need daily? Do you check in with yourself to ensure you aren't running on empty? If not, it may be time to clock out and take a deep breath.
Taking care of yourself is more than just ticking some boxes to prove that you ate your greens and or completed your workout. True self-care requires that you actively listen to your body and respond to its needs.
Ready to feel your best, conquer your goals and improve your wellbeing?
By adding some daily routines that help you take care of yourself first, you will see dramatic improvements in your overall happiness.
Want to learn the best ways to take care of yourself?
Here are 12 essential ways to take care of yourself:
1. Keep yourself hydrated
Everyone hears this admonition, but do you adhere to it? Most of don't drink enough water.
You have to stay hydrated for your body to function optimally, but did you know it's actually good for more than just quenching thirst?
Drinking water helps your brain operate at its best, and it keeps your digestive system moving along. You will feel less fatigued when you are hydrated and can maximize physical performance in exercise and other physical endeavors.
Drinking plenty of water keeps your joints lubricated, improves your complexion, and is a natural headache remedy.
Plus, if you drink a lot of water, you'll feel more full and eat less. This could help if you're trying to lose weight.
How much water should you drink to look after yourself?
It depends on many factors including your sex, age, activity level, and others, such as if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
In general, men should drink around 13 cups from beverages. For women, it’s 9 cups.
2. Eat What’s Right for Your Body
Everyone feels differently after they eat certain foods. You know what you typically avoid and what you like to eat often. However, you should keep in mind that no matter what you can and cannot eat, your body needs dietary balance.
Related: 10 Ways to Practice Mindful Eating
Always have access to fruits and veggies. Optimally you want to consume between 2 1/2 to 6 1/2 cups of fruits and veggies daily, eating whole fruits and a variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups—dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and others.
Eat plenty of whole grains, choose fat-free or low-fat dairy products, and if you eat meat, choose leaner options. Also add some fish to your diet with plenty of omega-3 content like wild salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines, herring, and albacore tuna.
Especially as the winter months roll in and flu season kicks up, you'll want your body to be strong and healthy to fight off any potential diseases.
3. Keep Yourself Active
Committing to regular exercise is about more than just accomplishing your fitness goals. Staying fit keeps your body functioning at an optimal level. You'll struggle less when it comes to moving around, and you'll stay mobile longer as you get older.
It plays a vital role in building strong muscles and bones, and it can reduce your risk of chronic disease.
Exercise also improves your mental health by reducing stress and anxiety, helping with relaxation and improving your quality of sleep.
When you work out, you're really helping your body prepare for the future — so find a way to get moving that gets you excited to go to the gym.
4. Learn How to Say No
A common reason that people get stressed out is that they don't know how to say “no” to things.
When people at work want you to help them with a project or do something that puts you behind on your own work, ask yourself, “Am I saying ‘yes' when I mean ‘no'?” Do you typically try to please others before yourself?
If so, you should practice saying “no” when you need to honor your own boundaries and needs.
There's a difference between being helpful and compromising yourself too much. If you live a stressful life, where you constantly please others first, it can have consequences for your mental health and emotional well-being.
You may need to practice building your self-esteem and confidence so you feel empowered enough to set your boundaries and abide by them.
5. Take Some Time for Yourself
Just like your electronics need time to recharge, so do you.
If your schedule is so full that you are racing from one task or obligation to the next without any downtime, you are setting yourself up for physical and mental exhaustion.
Sometimes we believe that if we aren't being productive during every waking hour, we are being lazy or selfish. But taking time for yourself is the best way to recharge your energy so you can perform at your best.
Take several breaks during the day to take a walk, have a cup of tea, read a book, take a power nap, or just stare out the window.
Make time for whatever helps you recharge, so you can move on with your day with more energy, positivity, and motivation.
6. Find What Centers You
When life gets busy, and you lose yourself in your schedule, it might be time to find something that centers you.
This could be something like taking time for deep breathing and meditation during your day or taking a walk in nature.
There are plenty of mindfulness practices that can help you stay centered in the present moment so you aren't overthinking or stressing about some future event.
You might consider a mindful exercise routine like yoga or Tai Chi that helps you maintain your focus on your body and breathing.
7. Unplug for a While
Even if you can't take a break from your digital devices every day, take time away for yourself at least once a week so you can focus on your self-care and spending time with people you care about. Nurturing your relationships is an important aspect of your self-care.
Too much time on your devices can make you anxious, agitated, and even depressed. They have an addictive quality that pulls you in even when you don't need to be using them for work or other projects.
Use your time away from electronics to extra sleep, socialize, learn a new skill, or just to take a break from your routine and breathe for a while.
Even if you can't take a full day off from your devices, take care of yourself by taking short breaks away from computers, smartphones, and digital tablets.
8. Give Back to Your Community
When you find yourself stressed from focusing too hard on your own life, try shifting your perspective. Helping other people can give you a fresh outlook and relieve stress.
According to Sonja Lyubomirsky, happiness researcher and best selling author of The How of Happiness, helping other people is a surefire strategy for increasing your own happiness and satisfaction in life.
Even if it's just once a month or twice a month, give back to your community by volunteering or just doing something nice for a neighbor or friend.
You'll feel better knowing that you helped someone else, and you'll also feel refreshed by getting a new perspective on your own routine.
9. Let Loose and Dance
There's just something about losing yourself in a song that can be so freeing.
Spend some time every once in a while blasting your favorite tunes and dancing around.
Your blood will start pumping through your body, and you'll feel revived and ready to face any challenges head-on. This can also be a great way to motivate yourself before a stressful event or day.
10. Treat Yourself Every Once in a While
A few years back, the idea of treating yourself became a social media phenomenon. Everyone was using it as an excuse to go out and buy that thing they've always wanted or eat the food they'd been craving all day long.
Treating yourself is a great way to take care of yourself since it can improve your self-esteem and reduce levels of anxiety and depression.
Just make sure you only do it every once in a while. That way it remains a special treat instead of becoming a daily habit. Pat yourself on the back. You deserve it.
11. Learn Something New
Stretch yourself a bit and step out of your routine by learning something new.
Going through the same motions day in and day out is boring and can wear you down. You can keep your brain active and healthy for years to come by challenging yourself with something you haven't tackled before.
Learn a different language online, or watch video tutorials to learn a new skill, like building a birdhouse, knitting, or discovering how to write computer code.
Refreshing your brain with a unique and interesting challenge can put you in the “flow” state when you feel fully immersed and engaged in what you are doing with a sense of joy.
12. Always Get Good Sleep
Sleep is vital to having a good day and a good life.
Not only does sleeping poorly affect how you feel when you wake up, but it affects when you fall asleep the next night too.
This eventually solidifies your bad sleeping habits into an unwanted routine, which is difficult to break.
Based on when you have to get up, go to sleep at a time that allows you to get eight hours of rest.
Sleeping better will help you do better at work and handle stress more positively — so do yourself a favor and catch some Z’s.
Putting Self-Care Into Action
If you're not sure how to accomplish all of this, start by keeping a log: write down everything your body feels during the day.
Keep track of when you get hungry, tired, stressed or anxious.
Also, write down what makes you happy or what events make you feel like it's worth getting out of bed in the morning. Review these things so you know the self-care activities that work best for you. Then try to repeat them.
You'll be able to more easily target what you should avoid during the day and what you could probably use a bit more of in your life.
The key is to keep your mind focused on what you can do to improve your health, while also balancing your daily stressors with things that make you happy.
In the end, you'll find a way to take care of yourself while changing your routine into something that's more manageable.
With less stress impacting your mental and physical health, you'll be able to enjoy life more — and isn't that the reason we are here?
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