You know that self-care is important, and you try to take good care of yourself — but sometimes, it’s easy to forget when life gets busy.
Practicing self-care on a regular basis can help you be healthier and happier overall. Taking time for yourself is crucial for your mental health and physical well-being. Self-love activities like taking a bath or going for a walk can give you the energy to take on other parts of your life with more enthusiasm. We found 25 ways to step up your self-love game.
Eat less sugar
You can get your sugar from fruits, not the sugary beverages and processed foods that are often loaded with added sugar.
Many people consume too much sugar, which can do a number on your health, Weinstock says. It increases your risk of diabetes. It may even lead to cognitive decline in later life, according to a study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
Plus, Weinstock says, “Sugar is bad for your teeth and doesn’t contain nutritional value beyond calories.”
It can be tempting to spend all your time inside, especially now that it’s summer and the sun is blazing. But getting outside just a little bit each day will improve your well-being. Fresh air, sunlight and natural light are all important sources of Vitamin D, which strengthens your bones and supports your immune system. Physical exercise helps you reduce stress, calm the mind and encourages creativity. It also boosts energy levels, reduces depression and releases endorphins that help reduce inflammation in the body (which is linked to certain illnesses).
Walking or riding a bike for 30 minutes per day is one way to get active outdoors. You could also exercise with friends at a park or beach or simply sit in nature for an hour or two every weekend.
Try an outdoor workout
Exercising outdoors can be invigorating, not to mention beautiful. Some say it helps them feel closer to nature. Others are simply sick of the treadmill, or their gym’s stale air and fluorescent lights. Even better: Outdoor workouts are one way to fit exercise in while traveling—no need to find time in your schedule, or a new gym pass, just head outside. And if you’re an athlete who tends to overtrain, mixing up your routine with outdoor workouts will add variety and help prevent boredom and injury.
Try going for a run in the park at lunchtime; hiking with friends on the weekends; cycling on vacation; getting your barre workout in the park; or signing up for a race like Tough Mudder (not for the faint of heart!). If you’re looking for some inspiration—and don’t mind getting dirty—just search the web for “extreme obstacle” races like Tough Mudder or Spartan Race (or even something tamer). It won’t be long before you’re climbing cargo nets and running through mud pits!
Breathe the right scents
It may seem like second nature, but improving your breathing can have surprising benefits for your health and productivity.
You have a few options when it comes to choosing which scents you want to breathe in. If you’re looking for something more fanciful, lavender is great for relaxation while rosemary is perfect if you need some focus. Peppermint oil has been shown to improve alertness and memory so consider diffusing that into your home should you need a little boost. If you’re in search of something less aromatic, try filling a bowl with chilled water and adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil. The cool mist will keep your face hydrated while the menthol from the eucalyptus oil opens up your nasal passages, making breathing easier. For an all-natural alternative, simply place some chopped ginger into a pot of boiling water and steep until it cools down to room temperature before drinking it as is or mixing with hot water or tea.
There is a ton of research on the effects of stress on both mental and physical health. It’s no joke; stress can make you sick, both in body and mind. The good news is that it doesn’t take much to relieve chronic stress, and there are a number of simple things you can do to keep yourself from getting run down by the demands of life.
For starters, cut out caffeine after 2 p.m., which will help prevent tossing and turning at night. Make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep—and if you’re not already meditating, give that a try too; it’s been shown to reduce heart rate variability (which decreases during high-stress times) after only 10 minutes per day. You should also avoid overscheduling yourself, which will leave you with some downtime to relax each week.
Once your schedule is under control, work on eliminating multitasking—as easy as it sounds, focusing on one thing at a time will actually allow you to get more done with less effort—and don’t be afraid to tell people no when they ask for your help doing something that doesn’t align with your priorities or feels like too much commitment for where you are in life right now.
Next, turn your attention outward: find ways to get outside every day if possible (even just for 20 minutes), as sunlight and fresh air have been proven to boost mood; engage in physical activity several times per week; eat nutrient-dense foods that provide energy without making you feel sluggish; and try spending time around positivity (be it people who appreciate your company or reading encouraging books).
Finally, practice positive self-talk: remind yourself daily how strong and capable and awesomely imperfect you are (because let’s be real—nobody is perfect)!
Focusing on the present moment can help you to enjoy the good things in your life, whether that is your morning coffee or a loved one’s company. Mindfulness practice involves becoming more aware of what is going on around you, including inside your own body and mind. You are encouraged to practice being fully present by paying attention to what you are doing as you do it. This will reduce worrying about the future or ruminating about the past when you should be focusing on what is happening now—and will help you get more enjoyment from activities like eating and exercising.
The easiest way to begin practicing mindfulness is to stop multi-tasking and pay attention to just one thing at a time. Many people find that simply focusing on their breathing for a few minutes each day helps them stay focused on current tasks, rather than being distracted by other thoughts or behaviors.
Awareness of how your body and mind feel in different situations can also be helpful: For example, if you realize that sitting down makes it easier for you to focus on your work, or listening to music while exercising makes it easier for you to stick with an exercise program. Taking into account not just what but also how we do things can help us feel better—and perhaps even become a little healthier along the way!
Meditation is one of those things that sounds hard—it seems like you need to be a lotus-positioned, holistic guru with lots of free time and no technology to be able to meditate.
But, as all the science suggests, meditation is actually very accessible. This technique is free and can be done anywhere and at any time, so you don’t need anything special for it. All you have to do is sit somewhere quietly for a few minutes and focus on your breath. And the benefits are huge: Meditation has been shown to help lower levels of anxiety and stress, decrease pain levels and boost memory performance.
Consider starting or ending your day with a five-minute meditation session: According to The Huffington Post , this simple daily practice may even make you more efficient at work .
Your music doesn’t have to be the most sophisticated or eloquent just so long as it makes you happy. Don’t worry about what other people think of your musical choices or how silly it looks. And don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself, either.
Dancing is not about technique or even style; it’s about moving in a way that makes you feel happy and free. To start, choose some music that makes you feel good, move your furniture around if necessary, and dance!
Turn up the tunes
You already know that music can affect your mood, but the research shows that it can also help you become more productive, happy and calm. In one study, employees who listened to music performed better on tasks than their counterparts who didn’t listen to any tunes. And in some hospitals, they’ve found that patients recover faster when they’re listening to music they enjoy compared with those that don’t listen at all. The next time you find yourself needing a break or an extra boost of energy at work, put on your favorite song or an upbeat playlist. You might even consider making a “happy” playlist for the days when you need a little pick-me-up.
Eat more fruits and veggies
Instead of limiting your fruit and vegetable intake to when you’re trying to lose weight, focus on eating them because they’re delicious, readily available, and the source of vitamins, minerals and fibre. They help prevent both mental and physical disease.
Any fruit or 100% fruit juice counts as part of the Fruit Group. Fruits may be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried, and may be whole, cut-up, or pureed.
Vegetables are organized into five subgroups: Dark-green vegetables; red and orange vegetables; beans and peas; starchy vegetables; and other vegetables.
Swear it off
Swearing off swearing might not actually be the best move: Studies have shown it can help relieve pain, and may make you feel more powerful. But beware: Starting a conversation with an f-bomb could backfire, as the recipient may perceive you as less trustworthy. Instead, save the expletives for those moments when you really need them (like when you’re in a car accident).
Indulge in some retail therapy
We’ve all had that feeling of being “in the dumps,” and feeling like shopping would brighten our spirits. Well, retail therapy is a real thing! Make sure you don’t go overboard—spending money won’t solve your problems. It’s good to treat yourself after a busy week or when you’ve achieved a goal, but not every time you’re in a bad mood. The same goes for when you are upset about something: retail therapy can work if it’s done in moderation. If you find yourself going on shopping sprees to relieve stress, seek help from a therapist or join an online community to get back in the right frame of mind.
Laugh out loud
Laughter is good for your health. In fact, studies have found that laughing out loud can help you relax and reduce stress, according to the University of Wisconsin Health. When you laugh out loud, your brain releases endorphins, which are substances that make you feel happy. There are many ways to laugh out loud. For example, watching a funny movie or television show can bring a smile to your face. If you’re not in the mood for entertainment, spend time with someone who makes you laugh. Laughing with others may help improve your mood while strengthening friendships.
Indulge in a massage
Studies have shown that massage therapy can help you relax, improve your sleep, reduce stress and anxiety, increase circulation, boost your immunity and even ease chronic pain.
A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that people who received 90-minute massages reported less muscle stiffness, pain and fatigue. Another study published in the journal Pain Research & Management found that getting a massage may help decrease symptoms of fibromyalgia such as pain, fatigue and anxiety.
Not only will getting a massage help you feel better physically, but it can also reduce stress levels by lowering your heart rate and increasing endorphins (aka those feel-good hormones).
Basically, cuddling is good for you. It’s no secret that physical touch can make you feel good in a variety of ways: One study found that the “love hormone” oxytocin is released in both men and women during hugs, which helps bond pairs romantically; other research suggests that it reduces stress levels and boosts feelings of happiness. In fact, one study found that girls who were hugged more as children had less anxiety as young adults (and others have also noted its calming effect). And if you want to get even more specific about what type of cuddling works best? That same study concluded that the participants who got more front-to-front hugs reported feeling less stressed than those who didn’t; though everyone felt better after receiving any kind of hug. Finally, how does cuddling help with sleep? It releases serotonin, a neurotransmitter often associated with mood regulation. This can help calm your mind and make it easier to doze off at night.
Get out of town
Sometimes it’s good to get out of your head and take a break from your daily routine.
It can be nice to see something new, even if that something is only a few miles away and you’ve seen it many times before. This way, you might even save some money by being a tourist in your own town. Stepping out of your usual routines will give you some (much-needed) fresh air, as well as a change in scenery. Find nature trails or parks near where you live and take advantage of them! There are plenty of other places to go: botanical gardens, historical sites, museums, planetariums—the options are endless.
Drink more water
Here’s a simple and enjoyable way to take better care of yourself: Drink more water.
Most people don’t drink enough water, so when you do, you’re already ahead of the game. Try to drink more than the recommended eight glasses a day. Here are some tips for drinking more:
- Drink a cup of water first thing in the morning (preferably room temperature). If you have time, squeeze half a lemon or lime into it.
- Drink a glass of water with each meal and snack. You don’t want to get dehydrated while eating!
- Drink a glass of water before and after every workout—and even during if it’s intense or long enough to make you thirsty..
Stop worrying about work on the weekend
After a long week, it can be tempting to continue worrying about all the work you need to do come Monday when you should be resting and relaxing. Studies show that constantly thinking about work on the weekends is really bad for your mental and physical health.
So instead of spending Sundays going over your notes from the week before, make sure that you take time to enjoy your hobbies or spend time with friends and family. When you’re deeply into a hobby, you might find that you have a new side of yourself to explore. Taking up knitting or drawing can also keep your hands busy so instead of picking up your phone every five minutes you have something new to focus on.
Get more sleep
Sleep is crucial for good health. Not only does it have a major impact on mental health and emotional well-being, but lack of sleep can also lead to serious physical problems, like heart disease and diabetes. One study found that people who slept less than six hours per night were more likely to gain weight—and gain it quicker—than those who slept seven or more hours per night.
So what should you do if you’re not getting enough sleep? The National Sleep Foundation recommends between seven and nine hours per night for adults, with seven being a bare minimum for functioning the next day. If you’re worried about your sleep habits and feel like they could use an upgrade, check out these tips from the NSF:
Smile more often
According to research published in the journal Psychological Bulletin, smiling can make you feel happy. This is because people smile when they’re happy, but they also smile when they think about things that make them happy. According to the study, in which researchers analyzed 168 academic papers on smiling and mood, doing so can also increase your confidence level. The researchers found that smiles are associated with better first impressions and more friendly behavior during social interactions.
In fact, according to a 2016 study published in the journal Cognition and Emotion, we tend to judge confident people as more attractive than those who lack self-assurance (even if their looks are similar). The good news is that you don’t have to be born with chiseled cheekbones or perfectly straight teeth to get noticed – just show off your pearly whites a bit more.
Wake up earlier
Waking up earlier has been linked to improved mood and concentration, more time for self-care and productivity, a reduced risk of depression, and an overall improved sense of well-being. In a study analyzing morningness/eveningness preferences in adolescents, those who identified as morning people were less depressed, were more likely to engage in exercise and be physically active, had better grades in school, drank less alcohol, got along better with their parents and friends, had fewer car accidents or arrests for DUI or drug possession at age 21; they also scored higher on measures of agreeableness and conscientiousness.
As an added bonus: The earlier you wake up, the more time you have to fit quiet reflection into your day. Journaling is my favorite way to start the day—I use it both as a tool for mindfulness practices like meditation (which is great if you’re new to meditation*), as well as a place where I can record my goals for the day. If journaling isn’t your thing (or you just don’t have time), try meditating or going on a morning walk or run instead.
Read a book a week
Ideally, you’re reading this article because you want to learn something new. That’s good! Human beings are curious creatures by nature. But it can be hard to find the time and energy for knowledge-seeking when your day is filled with work and family responsibilities. One of the best ways to accomplish both relaxation and learning at the same time is through reading—and according to several studies, people who read books report being more satisfied with life than those who don’t.
It may seem difficult to fit reading into your schedule, but you don’t have to take it on all at once. Try setting a realistic goal for yourself—specifying a certain number of pages or chapters each day—so that you won’t feel overwhelmed by your new habit. Once you find your rhythm and become comfortable with certain books, see if you can up the ante: The average American reads four books per year; why not try six? If that feels too ambitious, start smaller: try two books in a month, or one book every two weeks. By challenging yourself little by little, you may just find that soon enough, there will be no stopping you from making lifelong learning a part of your daily routine!
Change up your commute
It is so easy to hop on the bus or train every day and not think about what you’re doing or where you’re going. Although this may work for some people, it’s a real drag for others. There are so many ways that you can make working from home more convenient and productive. For example, try switching from a car commute (which takes way too much time) to walking or biking to work. You’ll save time, be healthier, and make better use of your money when you don’t pay for gas!
Unplug from electronics before bed
All of this exposure to light—especially the blue light emitted from tablets and phones—can wreak havoc on your sleep. One study found that exposure to blue light suppresses melatonin production and resulted in less REM sleep, while another study found a 60 percent increase in insomnia among individuals who use electronic devices before bedtime.
To keep electronics out of your bedroom, try these tips:
- Keep your phone across the room from where you sleep. If you don’t want to be completely unplugged, consider downloading an app that allows you to block access to certain websites or apps during certain times of day (e.g., after 9 p.m.).
- Unwind with non-electronic activities before bedtime: read a book, do some coloring or even journaling. Commit to turning everything off at least 30 minutes before you go to bed; give yourself enough time for your mind and body to wind down for the day.
Start tracking your goals and habits to gain traction
Tracking means to record metrics relating to your habits and goals. Keeping a daily, weekly, and even monthly record of your efforts will help you gain traction in all areas of your life. It’s estimated that 92% of people who set New Year’s resolutions never achieve them. Tracking can help you avoid this fate through increasing our awareness of where we are at with our health and wellness goals.
Be consistent with your workouts and diet.
To take better care of yourself, you must be consistent. If you want to lose weight, you can’t do it by eating healthily one day and eating junk the next. If you want to move more, it’s not going to work if you work out for multiple hours for a few days and then don’t do anything for the rest of the week.
Consistency is key when it comes to taking better care of yourself because it creates habits that can help you reach your goals. Research suggests that habits are formed when a behavior is repeated regularly over time until it becomes automatic and requires little thought or conscious effort. So if you want to adopt a healthier lifestyle and get used to eating healthier foods or exercising more often, doing those things consistently is what will help them become habits that feel more natural rather than tasks on your “to-do” list that seem challenging or overwhelming.
For example, if you have an intense workout plan scheduled from Monday through Thursday but then don’t work out at all during the rest of the week, chances are high that Thursday will be your last workout before quickly falling back into old habits in which working out isn’t a part of your routine or something you think about much at all. This can make getting back into exercise mode even harder than just starting off slow and building up from there—which we’ll talk about in just a bit!
Make your morning routine rock! every night.
You know you should be getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night, but did you know that where and when you get them is important too? Set a daily bedtime for yourself (ideally before 11 PM) and a morning alarm that gives you time to enjoy your morning. If you take care to make sure these are consistent from day to day, giving yourself the gift of 7-9 hours of sleep each night will allow your body and brain to reset so you can wake feeling refreshed.
Now that we’ve talked about how important it is to get quality sleep, let’s talk about why eating right plays an equally vital role in self-care!
Stay healthy and hydrated. in your body.
Researchers suggest that the average person should drink at least eight glasses of water per day. You can substitute plain water with other healthy drinks, like tea or lemonade.
In addition to making you feel better, drinking plenty of water has a number of scientifically-backed health benefits:
- People who drink more water lose weight faster. Drinking a glass of water before meals makes your body feel fuller and less likely to overeat.
- Studies show that maintaining proper hydration improves your mood and energy levels.
- Getting enough fluids when you’re sick helps your body fight infection and recover faster by keeping your immune system in top condition.
Self-care can help you be healthier and happier overall, so give yourself some time for self-care every day.
If you want to live a happier, healthier life, then you need to take care of yourself. That’s true whether you’re dealing with stress or depression, or whether you just want to boost your mood and improve your outlook. Here’s how:
- Take care of your body. Eat right and stay active by working out regularly.
- Take care of your mind. Fill it with positive thoughts and surround yourself with supportive people who will encourage you along the way.
- Take care of your relationships by spending time with people who support you and make you feel good about yourself!
- Take care of your soul!!! Go outside more and remind yourself that there is something bigger than all this! Nature has been proven to help people relax and think clearly!
- Take care of your finances! It should be a priority to have money saved up for emergencies as well as retirement!