Self care isn’t all about bubble baths and facemasks (although I love that part!). It’s important to take good care of ourselves in every way, physically, mentally and emotionally. Practicing self care can look like many different things, and it can seem a bit overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. Here’s 5 easy ways to practice self care that you can start today.
1- Drink plenty of water
This is such an important part of physical self care that is often overlooked. When people think physical self care they think about things such as skincare, physical exercise and eating a healthy diet. These are all great ways to care for our bodies, but an even easier way to start is by simply keeping yourself hydrated. Some say we should drink 8 glasses of water a day, some have other ways to measure it. My favorite, which I think is fairly simple and efficient is to drink half of your body weight (in lbs) in ounces of water. Ex: if you weigh 200lbs, you should aim to drink 100oz of water a day. That seems like a lot of water, and it is. “But won’t I have to pee a lot?” Yes. The idea is to flush out your system. You don’t have to follow this exact measurement, especially if you’re not used to drinking this much water every day. You can start slow, by adding a few ounces each day. If you choose not to use this method, just drink plenty of water. Your body will thank you.
2- Make time for yourself
This is another self care practice that makes a big difference. Making time for yourself every day is so important for your mental and emotional wellbeing. A lot of us spend our days dedicating our energy to our job, our partner, our kids, our home etc, and end up neglecting to set time aside for ourselves. When was the last time you took a half hour to do something just for yourself? Sure, taking a whole afternoon to get a facial and massage at a spa sounds awesome, but it doesn’t have to be only that. Making time for ourselves means different things to different people, and it doesn’t have to be several hours at a time. It can be taking just 20 minutes to read a chapter of a great book, taking a walk while listening to music, setting aside a half hour to journal at the start of your day, doing 15 minutes of meditation before bedtime, spending a couple hours a week on a hobby that makes you happy, or absolutely anything else that feeds your soul. It is vital to take the time to engage in an activity that is just for you, preferably every day, but if that’s not possible, even just two or three times a week is a good start.
3- Practice gratitude
I know it feels like the world has been completely upside down in the last few months and a lot of things seem really uncertain. I do not subscribe to the toxic positivity way of thinking that says things like “believe that everything is great and it will be”. It is important to be realistic about whatever situation you may be living through, however, that does not mean you should only focus on the negative. There is a way to acknowledge the negative, but also choose not to dwell on it, and that’s called gratitude. The practice of focusing on what is positive and feeling gratitude for it can change your whole perspective. Take it from me, who struggle with diagnosed major depressive disorder, it can make a big difference. A lot of times we tend to see what’s negative more easily than what’s positive because our brains are wired to find problems in order to try and solve them. That means finding the positive and feeling grateful for it takes deliberate effort. Practicing gratitude means taking the time to name positive things in your life for which you feel grateful. Doing so on a regular basis can slowly change your patterns of thinking, and eventually make finding things for which to feel grateful your new default pattern. It’s a simple, but powerful practice that can help improve your mindset on a daily basis.
4- Set boundaries
Have you ever felt emotionally or mentally drained by something or someone? That friend who only texts you to complain about their life (and problems often caused by their own doing), or maybe those after-hour work emails that make your anxiety levels skyrocket. Maybe it’s a narcissistic parent or family member who tests your patience and drives you crazy by sucking you into their drama. Anytime you are faced with people or situations that make you feel like the worst version of yourself, you are allowing them to drain you mentally or emotionally. Maybe you’ve done it for years without realizing how harmful that has been. Well, good news is you don’t have to keep putting up with it, and for your own mental and emotional well-being, you shouldn’t. It is extremely important for you to start noticing those toxic patterns and learn to set boundaries for yourself. That’s not always an easy thing to do, but it can greatly improve your quality of life in the long term. You are allowed to want to lead a peaceful life without drama.You are allowed to not want to deal with narcissistic behavior. You are allowed to want to have a healthy work/life balance. Therefore you are allowed to set boundaries from the people and situations that rob you of your peace of mind.
5- Give yourself grace
Ahh this one is a big one that I personally struggle with a lot of the time. Be gentle with yourself. You are human, therefore you are not perfect. And that’s ok. Sometimes we’re a lot more harsh with ourselves than we are with anyone else in our lives. Why? You may find it easier to forgive someone else in your life who has made a mistake, than to forgive yourself. Pay attention to your inner monologue. When you make a mistake, or do not exceed an expectation, how do you speak to yourself? Would you speak to a dear friend that way if they had made that mistake? No? Then you should not be doing it to yourself. You are not going to do everything perfectly every time and that’s ok. Also, pay attention to the expectations you are setting for yourself and whether they are realistic. If you are repeatedly having a hard time meeting those expectations, maybe it’s time to re-think how realistic they are in the first place. Maybe you’re reading this article and getting really excited to start trying all these self care practices, but if tomorrow you fail at doing one of them, or all of them, remember to not beat yourself up about it. Try again the next day. Give yourself grace and keep going.
These are some of the easiest but really important self care practices I try to include in my daily routine. Practicing these regularly makes me feel loved and cared for, and I hope it can do the same for you. If you’re new to practicing self-care regularly, start slow. Consider adding one practice to your daily routine, and add different ones as time goes by. Developing a habit of self-care is a process and there’s no wrong way of doing it.