Self-care means the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress. How many of us can say that we actively do this? We are always putting other’s needs before our own such as our partners or children, but how many of us take time to focus on us, and what we need? Taking care of ourselves is just as important as taking care of our loved ones. It is a really tricky thing to do, to set aside time just for us, but hopefully our list below will give you somewhere to start.
Here are our top 16 tips for Self Care:
#1 Read a Book/Magazine for an Hour
Reading is a great way to escape the realities of life (and we all need to escape this crazy life at the moment!) and a great self care activity. There might be a favourite author that you liked as a child, or even now as an adult. You may have a certain genre of books that capture your attention. Magazines are also a good way to escape too!
#2 Get Outside for Some Exercise
Although we have national restrictions in place, we still have entitlement to exercise outside. The NHS exercise guidelines state that adults should aim to be physically active every day. Any activity is better than none. They recommend that you should reduce the time spent sitting down and to break up long periods of not moving with some activity. This is hard to do at the moment with lots of us working from home, but the NHS website has some exercise activities that you could do to help achieve your goal.
#3 Do Something Crafty (Sewing, Colouring, Creating)
Spending some time focussed on a small project can help focus your mind and remove any unwanted thoughts as your mind is centred on the project at hand. There are cross stitch kits that you can buy that come with patterns and instructions to follow. You could find some cardboard and gather some sticks from a walk and create a piece of art. We encourage our children to colour but as an adult colouring is known to reduce stress and anxiety in our brains and generate mindfulness and quietness.
#4 Listen to Music
Different types of music have so many benefits for us. Meditation music is proven to help reduce stress by soothing the mind and inducing relaxation. Listening to relaxing classical music can be a safe, effective, and affordable remedy. You may have a favourite uplifting playlist or album from a particular artist that you enjoy listening to, putting this on once a day can help improve your mood and feelings of happiness within 2 weeks. This website mentions lots of other benefits of listening to music.
#5 Getting Up and Dressed
Now this may seem a simple one, but it is one of the best ones to help us feel in a better place and is a great self care activity. Getting out of bed, showered and dressed, hair and make up done makes us feel put together. Even if you aren’t leaving the house that day, or seeing anyone (virtually at the moment!) you will feel better for being ready for the day.
#6 Social Media
Social media is a great way for us to feel connected to the world and the people we love and care about. And of course, during Covid times, it has become the way we have kept in contact with the people we can’t see. But there is a negative side to social media, and who we choose to follow and what we choose to believe. Take a moment to go through who you are friends with, or who you follow. If they don’t bring you joy, maybe they don’t need to be on there!
#7 Declutter/Tidy a Certain Spot in the House
It is proven that our environment can impact our mood. If our surroundings are causing stress to us, we feel the impact. Reducing the clutter in our lives allows us to tackle stressors head-on and that benefits our mental health. We all have a cupboard or a drawer in our house where we stash things away and forget about them. Set aside some time to sort through it and you will feel like a weight has been lifted!
#8 Drink Water First Thing in the Morning
We all wake up from a nights sleep dehydrated. Instead of reaching for a coffee or tea first thing in the morning, give your body a chance to start the day in the right way, rather feeling tired or fatigued.
#9 Watch Funny YouTube Videos
I’m sure we are all guilty of getting side tracked while on the internet by stumbling across funny videos and then realising we’ve been watching them for a while! Well there is research to show that laughter can help improve your mental health. Laughter is a wonderful stress reliever and it releases endorphins in the brain and puts you in a better mood. Even small periods of time spent laughing can help reduce your stress hormone levels.
#10 What are You Grateful For
We can all get caught up in what we don’t like or want in our lives but actually take some time to sit and write a list of what you are grateful for. Think about the good things you have in your life, or the wonderful people who surround you. This is guaranteed to make you feel better and appreciate what you have, rather than what you can’t have at the moment.
#11 Order in Dinner
Why not treat yourself with a night off cooking and order your favourite dinner to be delivered. Don’t let yourself feel guilty either! Enjoy it and enjoy doing something you want for a change instead of worrying about cooking healthy meals for your family all the time!
#12 Get Some Sleep
We all know that sleep is important to us, but how many of us actually make sure we get enough of it? Sleep is vital for our mental health and wellbeing and an important part of self care. Making sure where you are sleeping is key. Our beds and bedrooms should be where we associate sleep with. Ensure you are relaxed before going to sleep can help you get a better night sleep as you’re mind isn’t too active. Being on our phones and the blue light can affect our ability to fall asleep, so try not to look at your phone just before you go to sleep!
Yoga is especially good for relaxing the mind and blocking out any unwanted thoughts. When taking part in yoga you are focused on your breath and matching the movements to it. It can help you get into a state of total focus and help to block out the rest of the world (which we all need to in this current state!).
#14 Take a Bath
Widely popular with children, yet adults are more reluctant to spend time in the tub. Some research shows that a 30-minute bath at 40 degrees Celsius improves depression. Warm baths are also linked to decreases in stress hormones and more balanced serotonin levels, which help regulate mood. Baths also help heal wounds and soak sore muscles.
#15 Positive Affirmations
Affirmations are positive statements that can help overcome negative thinking. If said often enough, you start to believe them and make positive changes. Affirmations can help you have a stronger sense of self-worth, which then in turn is likely to improve our own well-being. This website has tips on how to write your own personal affirmations or gives suggested ones you could use.
#16 Unplug From Technology
Although mentioned before about social media and rethinking who you follow on there, taking a break from technology completely can also be a good way to help aid your self-care. Without realising, we can be aimlessly scrolling through the news, or reading another story on a website. Sometimes it actually takes physically putting your phone/tablet in a cupboard or drawer to disconnect us from technology and help us to connect with ourselves and those around us.
At BirminghamCBT we offer in person and online therapy to provide tailored advice and strategy to manage and help your mental health. Please get in touch if we can help.