When you have work, family, pets and other responsibilities to worry about, taking care of yourself often falls to the wayside. It is critical, especially during these stressful times, to practice self-care, so we can be at our best for ourselves and those who rely on us.
Self-care seems simple in theory (the literal definition, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is “care for oneself”), but in practice can be quite challenging. I believe self-care routines depend on the person and can be molded to individual likes and dislikes. No matter where you are in your self-care journey, there are five simple things* you can do right now to start feeling your best.
*Mini disclaimer – I am not a medical professional, nor do I play one on TV. As a rule of thumb, always speak to a medical professional before starting any treatment, regimen, or exercise program.
1. Let There Be Light
Sunlight is attributed to many benefits, including a great source of Vitamin D and serotonin production. A low amount of either can trigger adverse health effects, including moodiness and fatigue. Looking for a quick and easy way to feel better? Open the curtains! Now that daylight savings is over, the sun rises earlier and sets later. Take advantage of that extra sunlight while you can. If your circumstances are such that you need to work in a basement or other part of your home without windows, give a sunlamp a try (note: I don’t have a relationship with Verilux...I just really like their HappyLights).
2. Walk it Out
You don’t need to have expensive equipment or a gym membership to exercise. Going for a walk will give you a boost of sunshine (see #1) and get your blood pumping. If walking isn’t your thing, try a 30-minute workout. There are many apps and fitness videos available online – some of them are even free or offer free trials. The Fitbit app and Winsor Pilates are two that I enjoy (again, no partnership implied). Exercise is a good stress reliever, too. Pro tip – If you find a workout vid that requires weights, try using two cans of beans instead. Works like a charm!
3. An Apple a Day
Coupled with exercise, a healthy diet will help you feel better from the inside out. As my Nana always said, “You can’t drive a car without gas.” Think of food as fuel and a way to thank your body for all it does for you every day. Having the recommended amount of fruits, vegetables and protein (from meat or beans/nuts/grains) can make all the difference in how you feel.
4. Relax and Unwind
After a long day, taking some time for yourself will do wonders for your self-care. This doesn’t mean you have to be alone (but you can be if you want). Aim to do something you enjoy in one of these three categories: social, creative or meditative. Social can mean calling up a friend or family member to chat. Creative may be an activity like coloring, baking, or playing a game. Meditative can literally mean meditating, or even just sitting quietly alone, listening to relaxing music. I personally enjoy this ambient music on YouTube.
5. Treat Yo'Self
These are stressful times, so adopting the mantra of “treat yo’self” once in a while will help your mood and lift your spirits. Craving a sugar fix? Try having a few pieces of dark chocolate instead (everything in moderation). Do you have a few extra dollars from not buying coffee every morning? Maybe buy that pair of jeans you’ve been eyeing up online.
Practicing self-care not only benefits you but everyone around you. When you feel your best, you can be your best. Even if it is just ten minutes a day, finding time to honor and cherish yourself is an important part of self-care. If you find it hard to remember to take time for yourself, try setting a reminder on your phone or going old-school and putting sticky notes around your home. I’m pledging at least 10 minutes a day for myself, and I invite you to do the same. Let’s take care of ourselves, together.