I want you to ask yourself two questions:
1. Do you take care of yourself?
2. How do you take care of yourself?
Which one is more difficult to answer the first or the latter? Generally, the question of "do you take care of yourself" is an easy yes! But the second question...there is usually some hesitation. Let's focus on that second question for a second shall we.
Self care is something that we have all heard of, many roll their eyes at the sound of it. Self-care is an intentional activity or action one takes to care for their mental, emotional and/or physical needs. It is easy in concept, but difficult in practice, simply because we overlook it, make up excuses for not doing it or don't know how or even where to start.
There is a misconception that self care has to be this grandiose affair that starts with a manicure and/or pedicure and ending with a massage. Although this is lovely, this can be offly expensive and time consuming. What if I told you that you can provide yourself with the love and care you need in just a few minutes a day, or few times a week? Have I peeked your interest?
Here's 5 easy and FREE ways to love on yourself!
1. Eat a balanced diet: I know, I know. Just hear me out! An occasional treat here and there isn't a sin...eat the slice of cake. What I'm talking about is the everyday. A nutritional diet can actually help improve your mood. Healthy foods help promote the development and the re-uptake of feel good hormones that can help decrease both Anxiety and Depression, increase your ability to focus and of course give you more energy.
2. Getting a good night's sleep:
Mental health and rest go hand in hand, a vicious cycle where one can effect the other and visa versa. There are two parts of our brain that are responsible for mood regulation, the amygdala and the pre-frontal cortex. The amygdala controls our emotional reactivity, thus when we are sleep deprived we will experience extreme mood variability. Where as our pre-frontal cortex is charge of decision making and self-control. When we are sleep deprived we lose our ability to make clear and healthy decisions for ourselves. So do your brain a favor and get some rest, at least 7-8 hours.
3. Say "No.": Did you know that "no" is a complete sentence in itself? Yeah, I'm going to say the word...BOUNDARIES! You need boundaries! Scary right? Well, it is uncomfortable, but it will make a world of a difference when you do. Lets make this as easy as possible, make a list of all the things you are NOT willing or able to do. Whether it be in a relationship, at work, with family, these are boundaries. Read that list again and again to remind yourself that these are your limits and it is okay to set those limits.
4. Spend time with the ones you care about:
As humans, we were literally made to connect. Okay, let me break it down for you. When you are interacting with a significant other, best friend or a beloved family member the brain release a cocktail of feel good hormones. While in the presence of one you care about (Facetime and telephone calls included) your body is flooded with Dopamine and Serotonin. Both hormones are associated with feelings of contentment, decreases in feelings of depression and stress as well as an increase in ability to form healthy attachments.
5. Do one relaxing thing every day: With our lives being on the go non-stop, it is very rare that we take a moment to rebalance. Everyday our body strives to get back to equilibrium, but sometimes it needs help. Doing one thing, one little thing everyday that promotes balance is enough to help your body. So what are these little things? Well, I encourage my clients to take two minutes three times a day to breathe. And I mean really breathe, deep breath in through your nose, slow breath out through your mouth. Breath is something we carry with us at all times, yet forget how much power we have behind it. In addition to breathing you can stretch, pray or meditate or even take a walk. Do something small that feels good.
Try these 5 FREE self care tips regularly. I challenge you to be intentional about your self care. Remember if you or a loved one is really struggling with feelings of sadness, fear, anger or anything in between, please seek help. There is a therapist out there in all kinds of shapes, colors, size and pronoun. Take care!
Need help finding a therapist? Here a few places to start!