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The article below is written by our guest writer, Brad Krause. Brad is a full-time life coach and author.
Find out more about his work on his website Self Caring.
Most of us are familiar with the term self-care. It may conjure images of spas, wine, or something of the like. However, self-care is much more basic than that. It simply involves putting yourself first, and making sure all of your needs are met, including those that deal with mental wellness.
We all know that eating well and exercising are important to our health. Yet, many of us put off cooking nutritious meals or getting our daily dose of activity because we “have no time.” Fortunately, there are ways around that excuse. The best way to maximize your time and still get in healthy meals is to plan out your week. If you know what you’ll be eating, shopping is a breeze, and you can prep or batch cook when you do have some free time. If you really can’t spare an extra moment, you can have your fresh groceries delivered, or even get a meal service. As for exercise, it can be hard to get 30 minutes a day to invest, so try to multitask. Do squats as you clean your bathroom. Walk when you make phone calls at work. Catch up with a friend by going for a jog around the neighborhood. Anything to get your body moving, even if you have to divide your attention.
How to Reduce Stress
Stress is detrimental to our health. A little can be motivating, but continuous stress can truly take a toll on how we feel—and how well our bodies function. One reason we have so much stress is many of us don’t know how to say no to things we don’t want to do, or simply don’t have time for. Boss asking you to work overtime when you’re already stretched too thin? A friend wanting to go out when you just don’t have the energy? It’s okay, truly, to tell people no. You don’t owe anyone your time, or even excuses. You can always explain that you’re worried your work will suffer if you take on much more, or that you’re simply too tired to get a drink to celebrate the weekend. Instead of doing things that contribute to your stress, take time to reduce your anxieties. Turn off your social media in the evening, including your work phone. Do something like yoga or stretching at night to help loosen your body. Even deep breathing can be a healthy way to unwind.
Improve Your Sleep
You need about eight hours of sleep every night. Even missing more than two hours a night can increase your risk of cancer, and compromise your immune system. You can reset your sleep schedule by doing just that—making a schedule and sticking to a sleep regimen. Go to bed at the same time, and get up at roughly the same hour each day, even when you don’t need to be up. To increase your melatonin production at night, turn off your gadgets, including your TV or electronic reader. Even if it doesn’t use blue light, or you put a filter on your bluelight device, it can still keep you awake. If you find yourself worrying about not sleeping when you’re in bed, get up. Don’t try to push through it, as you may begin to associate your bed with stress. Instead, walk around or do something productive.
One way to relax is to find things we actually enjoy doing. By mastering a task, our brains experience pleasure. It can be something simple, like knitting, gardening, or even writing in a journal. Just make sure it actually lowers your heart rate and makes you feel good. Reading, taking a class at the local community center, painting—anything can be a fun way to relax in your evening downtime.