When you’re busy taking care of your family, working a full-time job, going to school and handling other responsibilities, it can be easy to forget to make time for yourself. This is why it’s important to practice self-care to stay motivated and avoid burnout. Self-care can come in many forms such as physical, emotional and social.
- Physical: To practice effective self-care, you need to take care of your body. The National Institute of Mental Health sees a link between a person’s physical and mental health. If you take care of your body, then you’re more capable of practicing other forms of self-care. Physical self-care consists of getting enough rest, not overexerting yourself and maintaining healthy eating habits.
- Emotional: We all experience emotions like anger, sadness, anxiety and frustration, but it’s important that you have strong healthy coping mechanisms for those feelings. Activities that allow you to express yourself and your emotions naturally and regularly can help you feel more relaxed.
- Mental: Your mental self-care includes things to keep your mind active, but it can also mean developing a positive interior dialogue. Being positive and compassionate with both yourself and others can help create a healthier environment for yourself.
- Social: Social self-care can often be the hardest to navigate. You need to socialize with others, but some people also need more time to themselves. There is not a set number of hours or friends that you should have to feel happy.
There’s no right or wrong way to practice self-care. Some things may be effective for one person but it might not be effective for another. Here are a few self-care tips for you to try:
1. Get ample rest
Getting enough sleep is important for maintaining your physical and mental health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one-third of adults in the U.S. report getting less than the recommended amount of sleep per night. Not only can lack of sleep impair your judgment, but it can also leave you more at risk for health conditions like depression, heart disease and obesity. Seven to nine hours of sleep is the recommended range for adults. Sleep can increase energy and brighten your mood!
2. Keep track of your accomplishments
It’s easy to lose track of accomplishments, especially when you’re juggling multiple responsibilities. Recognizing and celebrating those accomplishments is an important part of self-care. They can be big achievements like a job promotion or graduation, or they can be smaller accomplishments, like completing a difficult assignment or finishing a book on your reading list. Keep a record of your accomplishments to remind yourself of how far you’ve come and to motivate you to continue working hard.
3. Express gratitude
Be grateful for the little things! Some people find it helpful to document what they are grateful for in a journal so they can look back at all the positive things they have written. Other people will fill a jar with slips of paper so they can see how "full" their life is of things they are grateful for. It can also be beneficial to show your gratitude toward other people. You can say thank you, leave an extra tip at a restaurant or call up a friend to say you appreciate them. By showing your gratitude, you create a positive environment for yourself and the people around you.
4. Schedule time with loved ones
Spending time with others is a great way to help your mental health. If you can, spend time with a friend or family member. If you can’t travel or leave the house, consider a virtual hangout with friends! Your friend group can be your support system. They can help encourage you, and help you express your emotions.
5. Spend time alone
If you’re someone who spends a lot of time surrounded by people, it could be beneficial to spend time by yourself. If you have more moderate introversion over extroversion, you might be more drained after social interaction. Taking time to be alone with your thoughts, listening to music or watching a favorite film are all great ways to relax. Journaling is also another great way to spend time alone.
6. Eat something you enjoy
Treating yourself to some dessert can sometimes improve your mood, but it shouldn’t be something that you do every day. Eating healthy is an important part of self-care because when you have a poor diet, it affects other aspects of your health. Find some healthy meal options and treat yourself in moderation.
7. Set goals
We all have long-term goals that we strive for, but setting and accomplishing smaller, short-term goals are important too. It can help put you in a better mindset to achieve some of your other long-term goals. You can set new goals like learning to knit or play a new sport, or you can break up your long-term goals into smaller goals. For example, maybe earning your diploma could start with you accomplishing a smaller goal of finishing a paper or assignment.