Self-care isn't just a trendy Instagram hashtag; it's an important part of your mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing. According to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, basic needs like food and rest need to be met before we can develop relational needs like intimacy and partnership.
You need to take care of yourself before you're able to be present for others. But self-care can be harder than it seems at first. In a culture that demands so much of our time and attention, it’s often difficult to carve out our own space and remember what we need to take care of ourselves.
Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Here are four things to keep track of as you care for yourself:
We’ve all had those super busy days where we can’t find time to eat. Half-way through the afternoon, blood sugar crashes big time. It’s hard to think about anything but food, and we start to feel hangry.
You don’t have to follow any kind of complicated diet. What’s most important is that you eat whole foods and stay nourished. Your mind and body will thank you, and you will have enough energy to focus on that important project or conversation.
It’s important to stay active. Whether you prefer a sweat session at the gym or an outdoor hike, movement not only conditions your body, but also provides a range of mental health benefits including better sleep, stress relief, and improved mood. You will be able to offer others your best when you are physically and mentally healthy. Explore how you most enjoy staying active and build physical movement into your days.
You know how you need to plug your phone in every few hours to recharge the battery? You need that for yourself too.
Sleep is the body's way of clearing out brain toxins and recharging so you wake up clear and refreshed. By getting enough sleep, you improve your focus, stay more productive, and protect your mental health. To improve your sleep:
- Try to go to bed at the same time each night.
- Avoid caffeine after noon.
- Develop a relaxation routine like reading a book or taking a bath before bedtime.
It may seem like your need for rest should be covered by getting enough sleep, right? Wrong.
Just like sleep allows your brain to recharge overnight, restful awake time recharges your batteries while the sun is out. Even if we get a full eight hours of sleep each night, we need to do more for our health than work and push ourselves the other 16 hours each day:
- Take time to read a book.
- Binge-watch that Netflix show.
- Go for a relaxing walk outside.
- Indulge in an elaborate skin care routine and bubble bath.
You need to remind yourself that you are more than the work you do and give yourself permission to enjoy your life. In the end, taking pleasure in the little things is what life's really all about, and you can use this joyful emotional space to share with others.
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