When was the last time you did something for the first time, or gave yourself a tap in the back? Self-care is a practice that is often overlooked. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression, globally.
Long lasting and or severe depressive states may lead to reduced productivity and serious health problems. It is therefore important that you set some me-time aside, to foster growth and ensure that you lead a productive life.
What is Self-Care?
First things first… In the simplest of terms, self-care is any activity that you do to take care of your mental, physical and emotional health. For personal well-being, and to get the most out of a self-care activity, it has to be deliberate and one whose goal is to recharge and make you a better you.
Self-care is often a manifestation of self-love, and it is not a selfish act. Practicing self-care is not about putting your needs over others’ (in theory it kinda is). Rather, taking time to care for yourself allows you to be better equipped to care for others.
Why is Self-Care Important?
The term and idea of self-care comes off as ‘fancy’, and consequently people like to describe its need as ‘rich people problems’. Ahead are reasons why you should not ignore self-care and instead make it an integral part of your life;
Taking care of yourself allows you to de-stress, thus relieving mental burdens; anxiety and depression. Taking some time off, regular sleep, and doing activities that allow you to unwind contribute to your overall emotional well-being.
Self-care does not only improve your mental health, but it is also a physical health booster. Physical activities and healthy diet choices ensure that you lead a healthy life, being at your highest energy levels.
Self-care helps you achieve a state of mindfulness that allows you to live in the present, avoid procrastination and increase your self-worth, ergo becoming self-aware.
Self-care allows you to recharge, both physically and mentally. When you feed your mind and body through positive activities (all of which will be highlighted shortly), you are able to give your best and become a productive powerhouse in everything you do.
Creates a healthy work-life balance
Work, work and more work will not yield the best results. You need to shatter the ridiculous idea that you have to be constantly working. This will only lead to burn out. Self-care activities, away from work, help you create a fine balance between working on your career and working on yourself; to prosper on the former, you will need to be at your A-game, and self-care guarantees just that.
31 Ways to Practice Self-Care
Get enough sleep
Do yourself a favor and have at least 8 hours of rest. Enough sleep lowers the risks of health problems, reduces stress and allows you to think clearly, thus enabling you to do better in your daily activities.
There are numerous benefits of yoga. Doing yoga ensures your well-being by improving the quality of your life; physically, emotionally and psychologically.
A healthy diet will not only save you from indigestion (which is so unsexy), but it will also ensure that you lead a long healthy life. Try to eat at home more often as opposed to eating out. Studies have shown that people who eat home cooked meals eat more vegetables and less sugary food than the latter.
Make a bucket list
A bucket list is a list of things you hope to achieve before you die. For self-care, your bucket list, asides from travelling to Europe and having the wedding of your dreams, should also include short-term goals.
Ticking things off your bucket list from time to time is not only a way to stop procrastinating but also brings about satisfaction.
Learn to say No!
You can’t pour from an empty cup. Saying NO, politely, is an essential tool for your emotional well-being. It is okay to say no sometimes and put your needs first. This will in turn earn you self-respect as well as respect from others.
…but also say YES more
Don’t get confused. I swear I am driving towards a point.
Get out of your comfort zone once in a while. Saying yes might be your doorway to new opportunities and meeting amazing people alike.
De-clutter your space
Clutter can lead to unproductivity and tension. Take time to de-clutter your work space, digital life and also go a step further to de-clutter your closet by building a capsule wardrobe. This actually gives you peace of mind and offers a comfortable space that is manageable.
Take a trip
Taking a trip does not necessarily have to involve a large spending or booking a flight. Go for a road trip, or just visit the next town. This will give you a better and broader outlook on life. Taking some time away from your everyday life/work environment relieves stress and increases your mental power, allowing you to be more productive when you return.
Find a hobby
Find a hobby that lets you escape into something you enjoy. This not only triggers your feel-good hormones, but it also reduces stress and promotes eustress; the only kind of stress that is allowed.
Many people turn their hobby into a full-time job. While this is a good thing and positive result, for self-care, this does not really count. As long as it is associated with work, thereby forcing you to be accountable, it ceases to be a hobby. Find a hobby that you do just for fun.
Getting organized in different aspects of your life; cleaning out your desk or cleaning your home has health benefits that contribute to living your best life.
Take a walk
Apart from burning calories and other health benefits, walking also improves your mental health by reducing anxiety and depression, improving your mood and also boosts your self-esteem.
Disconnect to Reconnect
Unplugging from technology, for at least 24 hours a week, will improve the quality of your life by improving your relationship with the people around you. It will also help you achieve mindfulness; as you stop to recognize your thoughts, actions and feelings, you learn to live in the moment.
Unplugging, especially after work also allows you to recharge and lead a more productive work experience the following day.
Give yourself rewards for achievements and positive behavior. If you are familiar with operant conditioning, you know that positive reinforcement encourages good behavior. This improves your self-worth and also reinforces hard work and commitment in activities that are good for your well-being.
Have some ‘me-time’
Spend some time alone, not necessarily doing something; you can just lie in bed or enjoy a nice view and let your mind do the work. This not only allows you to unwind and reduce stress, but also leads to problem solving.
This is also a way of having a meeting with yourself; you can arm yourself with just a pen and paper and analyze the areas in your life that need changing, and or toxic traits that you ought to get rid of.
Decorate your living space
Some home décor goes a long way in your well-being. The act not only increases your home value but it also boosts your self-worth. A beautiful living space will not only make you proud of your creativity but will also inspire you to become more productive in other avenues of your life.
Read a book
Frequent reading will do more than just making you knowledgeable; it also acts as a stress reliever. Forming a habit out of reading may be one of the best decisions you make in your life.
Surround yourself with positive people
The people you spend time with have a huge impact in your life. If you often surround yourself with toxic people, it won’t be long before you find these traits manifesting in you.
Keep friends that motivate you and those who do not work overtime to put you down.
Learn to let go
Holding on to stuff hurts you all the more. Sometimes you have to forgive others, not for them but for your own peace of mind. Give yourself closure as it relieves anxiety and improves your mental health. Holding on to past wrongs only stops you from enjoying the joys of the present.
Be kind to yourself
It is true that we are our self’s biggest critiques. Complement yourself as often as you can. Self-compassion reduces depression as it increases one’s optimism towards self, leading to improved body image, self-worth and a state of overall happiness.
Talk to someone
Going to therapy does not mean that you are crazy. You do not have to talk to someone professionally; find a confidant with whom you can lay it all on. Voicing your problems and having emotional support lifts so much off your shoulders, and might even help you come up with a solution.
Take a break
Work and no play will surely make you dull. Your mind and body need to recharge. Taking a break not only gives you a much needed rest but it is also a way to reevaluate your goals and reflect on your life.
I have found that when I work non-stop I tend to forget (for a moment) what it is I’m aiming at. At times like these I have to stop and remind myself the direction I want to take my life. Always remember to breathe.
Keeping a journal has with no doubt improved my writing skills. Journaling evokes a state of mindfulness; citing past frustrations and stating your plans for the future allows you to live in the present and do things that foster you towards that. Journaling is also a way of letting it out, thus brings about emotional and psychological healing.
Do a DIY project
DIY projects will not only do your bank account a favor, but they also give you a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. Being proud of an achievement is bound to make you happy, boost your confidence and improve your self-worth.
Trust your intuition
Awakening and trusting your intuition will improve your decision making skills and will also reduce stress and anxiety caused by overthinking and over-analyzing.
Smart goal setting
Goal setting gives you a purpose in life and shows you a clear direction to your destination. This allows you to remain focused and make good decisions that are in line with your hopes, dreams and aspirations.
Find ways to unwind
Find a way to unwind every now and then. This is an activity that soothes and relaxes you. Have a bubble bath after a long day’s work, listen to Beyonce, light candles and just fall back. If you are like me, chocolate does the trick; because chocolate understands.
Indulge in self-care activities
I stick to a skin care routine at home every alternate day. On the days when I’m feeling extra, I extend this to hair care. Find a routine that works for you and one that leaves you feeling better about yourself, beautiful and sexy.
Celebrate small wins
Celebrating achievements, no matter how small, activates the reward circuitry of our brains and release chemicals that give us a feeling of pride and achievement. Celebrating small wins also improves productivity as it encourages you to do more.
Practice positive affirmations
Say it with me, “I am beautiful, I am enough, I am worth it”. Studies show that daily self-affirmations lower stress levels. By reducing negative thoughts through a positive mindset, you are able to be the best version of yourself and love yourself even when society is saying you shouldn’t.
Do not beat yourself up about a mistake you did. The process of forgiving yourself starts by taking responsibility. Self-forgiveness is known to lower anxiety levels and reduce depression.
Flaws are a state of mind. Some of the things I hated about myself when I was younger are the same things that I am in love with, in young adulthood.
The bad news is that we all have flaws (well, that is kind of a good thing). My point is, even better news, that flaw might just be the thing that makes you a millionaire…wink wink**
I hope that these tips will help you live a happy life by being the best version of yourself and most importantly, show yourself some love.
What are some of the things you do for self-care? Have they increased your self-worth and productivity? Feel free to let me know in the comment section below.