6 Self-Care Tips that Won’t Cost You a Dime
You’ve seen it everywhere: “self-care.” You may have a vague idea of what it is; after all, it’s pretty self-explanatory. Maybe you’ve even tried it yourself: a nice, relaxing bath, a delicious burger, or maybe a little retail therapy. But there’s more to self-care than indulging yourself. In order to have long-lasting benefits, self-care requires actually taking care of yourself.
The mental health benefits of self-care
Here’s what self-care actually is: keeping yourself functioning properly, both physically and mentally. According to The Atlantic, self-care is a way to strengthen your inner self so that you’re prepared when life throws some hard balls at you. Self-care is necessary for everyone – from CEOs to stay-at-home parents to truck drivers. Here are a few tried-and-true methods for practicing self-care.
1. Get enough zzz’s
It feels obvious that sleep is important. A good night’s sleep makes your day go by more smoothly. But it’s so much more than that. According to research done at Harvard Medical School, a lack of sleep negatively impacts our mood as well as our focus and general cognitive abilities. Simply put, you need sleep in the long-term and short-term.
You might have a busy life, and getting enough sleep just isn’t always an option. But if you start off your self-care routine simply by establishing a healthier sleep pattern, that alone can make a huge difference in your mental health.
2. Reduce stress at home
If you’re looking to sleep more, one thing that will help is reducing stress. You might have a lot on your mind: financial stress, relationship trouble, a noisy environment, or an excess of extracurricular activities.
You can reduce stress in your home in a number of ways, including getting organized, expressing yourself creatively, sharing chores, and creating your own personal space for just you to relax in. Be willing to delegate responsibility and say “no” to stressful activities.
3. Take time to relax
Set aside some time to do some relaxing activities you enjoy. Take 10 (or 30, or 60) minutes and go to your own personal space, and make sure you’re not interrupted. Meditate. Breathe deeply, and focus on your breath for even as short as five minutes. Read a book you like. Read or listen to something inspiring. Watch a video or show that relaxes you. In fact, relaxation can have a number of positive benefits for those suffering from depression or overcoming addiction. In addition to hobbies, yoga and meditation have been proven to help improve mental health.
4. Cultivate healthy and happy relationships
Sometimes, when you’re overly stressed, you may be tempted to avoid people. Researchers at UCLA have found that socializing is incredibly good for you and that isolation is detrimental to your health.
Everyone needs friends, so make sure that you have healthy relationships in your life. If you’re unhappy in some relationships, see if you can repair them. If they can’t be repaired and you feel drained, you might have to let these people go. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to invitations with people you don’t enjoy being around or that involve spending excess money. You can be polite and still have boundaries.
5. Exercise regularly
Exercise has long been touted for its mental health benefits, but don’t think you need to do things you hate. Start reducing stress by walking more. Go for a 5-minute walk while you’re at work to break up your day. Get outside your house and explore your neighborhood. Then, start doing a little more: go for a hike, lift some weights, or try something new you’ve always wanted to do.
6. Eat more healthy food
This doesn’t mean you need to give up all your favorite dishes. It’s much easier to do more of something than to cut out what you love. Try to eat at least two vegetables a day, and build from there.
When you aren’t doing the things that make you happy and healthy, it can take a toll on you both physically and mentally. Be sure to take care of yourself, but remember to also forgive yourself for your mistakes. Don’t look at self-care as something you need to do perfectly. It’s a process, and with each healthy step you take, you’ll love yourself and the life you live even more.
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