Taking the First Steps to Your Self Care Journey

No one ever said life is easy, and sometimes, things can be downright difficult. We face many challenges throughout our lives, and they often seem to come all at once. 

 

But what happens when things get crazy? If you’re like most people, you may put yourself on the backburner. You might even think that prioritizing your mental and physical well-being is a luxury and not a necessity. 

 

However, if we want to be the best versions of ourselves, it’s vital to take time for self-care.

What Is Self Care?

Depending on who you ask, answers about what self-care entails can vary significantly. But in general, self-care refers to the time we set aside to take care of our well-being. It can be any way that we take care of our emotional, physical, mental or spiritual health. 

 

This process can look very different from person to person. For example, your idea of self-care may involve playing a daily game of chess to unwind, while someone else may find that chess is a stressful thing to do. The activity or routine itself is not important. As long as you’re doing things that refresh you, you are promoting your well-being. 

 

A critical reminder before we move on: self-care is not a selfish act. If we want to be our best selves for the people around us, we have to prioritize our mental and physical health. 

Starting Your Self-Care Journey: 8 Tips

Although self-care is not a one-size-fits-all approach, everyone can benefit from the following tips. 

Look at Your Sleeping Habits

The best way to start your self-care journey is to start with sleep. Sleep has a significant impact on our lives, and poor sleep causes many adverse effects. Some of these include: 

 

  1. Lack of focus
  2. Compromised health
  3. Higher stress levels
  4. Irritability 

Of course, it’s not always easy to get the right amount of sleep. A healthy adult needs between seven and nine hours per night, so make an effort to get good rest. Practicing better sleep hygiene can help correct the above issues and set you up for a more successful day. 

Address Poor Eating

Chances are, if you’re stressed and burned out; you could stand to make better nutritional choices. 

 

Take a look at what you’re eating to see if you can make any improvements. Even if you don’t want to lose weight, following a healthy diet is vital for overall health. Start with small changes like limiting or cutting out sugary drinks or adding a daily green smoothie. 

Exercise

When you’ve got a million things to do, exercise is often the first thing to fall by the wayside. However, there are plenty of reasons to move our bodies every day. Exercise releases endorphins, which make us feel good, and they also help reduce stress. 

 

The good news? There’s no need for marathon gym sessions to reap the benefits. If your schedule is crazy, doing exercise in small chunks of ten- to twenty-minute periods is perfectly okay. Activities like HIIT, indoor cycling, or even a quick body-weight-only core workout can all get your heart rate up. 

Handle Stress

Stress is difficult to avoid, but its effects are incredibly dangerous to our health. Long-term stress can lead to problems like depression, high blood pressure, and gastrointestinal issues–which no one wants. 

 

So take an honest look at how you’re handling the stressful situations in your life. How are you reacting to and addressing them? Do you have any physical reactions to these situations? Eliminate the ones you can, and seek out better ways of dealing with the ones you can’t. You may even find the next tip helpful in managing stress.  

Start Therapy

Many people balk at the idea of therapy, as they think that nothing serious enough is happening to warrant it. The truth is that anyone can benefit from therapy. Suffering from a mental illness or having calamity in your life are not prerequisites for calamity. And going to therapy can lay the foundation for a greater sense of emotional health. 

 

Indeed, more and more people are turning to therapy to have a safe space to work through issues, mental blocks, or relationship problems. You’ll have to put in the time, but as long as you’re willing, you can make great strides. 

Take Technology Breaks

Technology is here to stay, and the gifts it’s given us are amazing, but that doesn’t mean you need to be connected 24/7. Constant access to the internet can make us feel overstimulated and overwhelmed. And if you factor in spending too much time on social networks, it’s easy to experience a feeling of being less-than. 

 

So put your phone down every once in a while and do something else–something that you really enjoy. Spend quality time with your children, go for a walk, or connect with a friend or your partner–anything that will recharge your batteries. 

Surround Yourself with the Right People

Take stock of the people you surround yourself with. Those closest to you should be supportive and loving, but most of all, they should be positive. We feed off the energy of the people we spend time with, and being around negativity makes everything feel negative. Cut negativity out of your life wherever possible. 

Set Boundaries

Boundaries are physical, emotional, or psychological barriers between you and others. Without them, it becomes impossible to live authentically. You may find yourself taking on tasks that you’re not well suited to or that you don’t have time for. 

 

Setting boundaries is challenging for many people, but they’re an integral part of any self-care plan. Learning how to say no (in a respectful way, of course) is the best way to assert your space, both with friends, family, and co-workers. It’s also critical for time management. 

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, the ideas above will give you plenty to consider for your self-care journey. You likely already do some of these things unconsciously, but paying attention to them can make these practices more meaningful. And remember–this list is by no means an exhaustive one, merely some ideas to get you started.