Taking care of oneself has always been important, but it has become increasingly important during the pandemic. If you don’t care for yourself, it is certainly much harder to care for others, do your work properly, and may find yourself beginning to burn out in your relationships and jobs.
Self-care is often simpler than you realize. You don’t need to go out and pay for an extravagant massage at a spa in order to feel cared. Self-care can be done in the comfort of your own home with few or no tools.
Below are some tips for incorporating more self-care into your daily life.
1. Set a morning routine and stick to it.
Many people are guilty of waking up in the morning and immediately checking their phones to stay up to date on the latest emails or posts on social media. The first things that people focus on in the morning have a greater effect on their mental state than they may realize. Rather than grabbing your phone to check Instagram in the morning, set a different routine for yourself. For example, maybe after your alarm goes off, get up, wash up, and start to journal. Maybe you can take a nice warm shower. Maybe try to get up, go to your kitchen and make some warm tea or coffee. Or try to get up and work out. Whatever you choose, try to stick with it for at least one week to see if you feel different at the end of the week as compared to how you felt at the beginning. Once you find a routine that works well for you, it will become more second nature.
2. Journal five things you are grateful for every day.
It is easy to let days go by without thinking about the things you are grateful for. Beginning to focus more on the things in your life that affect you positively will in turn make you feel more positive. Pick a time of the day to journal five things that you are grateful for each day. You can simply write down, in a list form, the things which you are grateful for, or you may choose to write longer excerpts about them. You may want to do this in the morning, or possibly before bedtime. Don’t be concerned if you find that you are grateful for a few of the same things day after day. The goal is not always to find something new. As long as you recognize the importance of the things that you feel grateful for, even if they’re the same each day, you’ll begin to notice a shift in your mood.
3. Spend three minutes being mindful of your breathing.
Focusing on your breathing can be grounding and relaxing. Set three minutes aside to sit in a comfortable position and simply notice your breathing. Notice where you are and how you feel. In your head, say “inhale” as you slowly breathe in and “exhale” as you slowly breathe out. People often spend so much time rushing around that they don’t always get long, full, deep breaths throughout our day. After these three minutes (or more if you like!), notice how you feel different. If you like this exercise, start to use breathing techniques for longer and longer times, or more often.
4. Stretch your body.
After a long day of working, you may find yourself stagnating watching TV or looking at your phone, waiting to go to bed and starting over the next day. Remember that there is a connection between mind and body. Moving your body in ways that feels good to you can also improve your mental state. Try a nice quick, deep stretch to get yourself feeling both physically and mentally better. You can do this while you watch TV, listen to a podcast, or play some songs you like.
5. Unplug from your technology devices.
Many individuals spend a lot of time glued to their phones, their laptops, and even their televisions. Setting aside some time, whether it be ten minutes or an hour, without these devices, can be refreshing. You may often worry about who is contacting you, what is happening on Instagram or Facebook, or what catastrophe is currently on the news. All of this clouds your head so that you can’t fully focus on yourself. Take some time away from all of this to give yourself the attention and care that you deserve.
6. Make a warm drink.
There is something comforting about sitting down with a warm cup of tea, coffee, or hot chocolate. Whatever your drink of choice is, set aside some time to make it how you like it, and then sit down and enjoy your creation. And enjoy it without the added “stimulation” of using your technology devices.
People sometimes say, “fake it ’til you make it.” This can be particularly effective with smiling.] Take a few seconds to smile. A big smile! Even if you don’t feel particularly happy at the moment, put a smile on your face. After a few moments, you may start to notice a mood change. Smiling has a way of making you… smile!
8. Listen to an upbeat song.
Sometimes, self-care can be as simple as singing along to your favorite song. Put on a happy song while you shower or take a bath and really enjoy the moment. It may even be beneficial to listen to uplifting music on your way home from a long day at work. Instead of thinking about everything you did during the day, and everything you need to do tomorrow, listen to the music. Upbeat music can very quickly change your mood for the better.
9. Watch an episode of your favorite TV show.
There is comfort in familiarity. Sitting down and re-watching episodes of your favorite TV show can relax you. This may be something you want to add to your nightly routine. Maybe you like a show that is short, sweet, and funny. Maybe you like to get lost in murder mysteries. Whatever your TV show genre of choice, allow yourself to be fully present in the moment (put your phone away!) and enjoy the nostalgia of watching your favorite show.
10. Contact a friend.
When you spend your days busy and working, you may forget how nice it feels to talk to someone who understands you and loves you. Self-care for you may look like texting, calling, or video-chatting with an old friend. During the pandemic, many people learned that they are social creatures who crave being around others. Even if you can’t physically see your friend, you can set up online hangouts. Maybe you’ll decide to do happy hour with your friends via video chat. Maybe you would rather just send a nice text message. Talking with people you love can make you feel important and cared for.
Try one or a few of these tips today. If you like the new self-care regimen you create for yourself, try to incorporate it into your daily or weekly life. You are your own first priority and should take care of yourself in that way.
Suggestions for further reading:
Davis, T. (2018, December 28). Self-Care: 12 Ways to Take Better Care of Yourself. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/click-here-happiness/201812/self-care-12-ways-take-better-care-yourself
Dolgin, R. (2020, September 07). Self-Care 101. https://www.psycom.net/self-care-101