The holiday season is here. That means you might have extra activities to attend, parties in your child’s classroom, shopping and entertaining. You might worry about seeing relatives you prefer not to see or meeting new people. You might worry about needing to attend your holiday work party.
During this busy time, chances are you have let go of some healthy habits. Maybe you are eating dinner on the run, in between shopping and getting to your daughter’s school concert. Maybe you are taking time away from your family to get shopping done. Maybe you are staying up later than usual to catch up on household chores. Maybe you gave up having time to get to the gym. When you deprive yourself of the self-care you need, you risk increasing your stress and anxiety levels.
The term self-care refers to a combination of healthy lifestyle choices and stress management. It doesn’t mean eating three donuts for breakfast because you like donuts and you want to indulge your wants. It doesn’t mean foregoing the gym because shopping is more fun. Self-care means you take the time to do what is best for you.
Do You Practice Self-Care?
There are some basics, or universal self-care needs. These include getting enough sleep, eating right and getting some exercise. But self-care also involves finding time for yourself, participating in activities you enjoy and paying attention to your relationships. The following are some ways you can practice self-care on a daily basis. Look through the list and notice whether you practice self-care on a daily basis.
- Eat three meals a day
- Eat healthy foods
- Exercise daily or several times per week
- Sleep 7 to 8 hours per night (8 hours is recommended)
- Take time each day to turn off phones, emails and the Internet and disconnect from “the world”
- Take time each day to meditate, practice mindfulness, do yoga or do deep breathing exercises
- Write in a journal
- Talk to someone when feeling overly stressed
- Go to the doctor on a regular basis, go to the doctor when sick
- Do something intellectually engaging
- Listen to my inner thoughts
- Spend time with people I enjoy
- Spend time every day doing something I love
- Reach out to friends, relatives and people I don’t see on a regular basis
- Allow myself time to sit quietly
- Take a walk outdoors
- Think about what I am grateful for
- Allow other people to help me and do things for me
- Spend time having fun with my children
- Take a break during the workday
- Develop friendships with my coworkers
- Surround myself with positive and supportive people
Pay attention to those items you never do (you don’t need to do everything on the list to practice self-care). Focus on areas you see as lacking in self-care, for example, you might eat lunch at your desk every day because you feel to overwhelmed and want to get as much work done as possible. Consider taking a walk for 15 minutes each day during your lunch hour. You might find that getting out of the workplace, breathing in fresh air and moving around helps you focus and get more done in the afternoon. Look for ways you can increase your level of self-care.
Find Something You Love
While the basics, eating right, getting enough sleep and exercising, are important for everyone, other aspects of self-care are different for each person. An activity you find relaxing, someone else might find distasteful or stressful. We each have different passions in life. Make a list of things you love to do, such as:
- Completing crosswords, Sudoku or other challenging games
- Attending concerts or listening to music
It doesn’t matter what it is and it doesn’t matter if your spouse, friends or children don’t find it appealing. As long as it doesn’t hurt anyone and isn’t illegal, you should take time to do something you love every day, if only for 15 minutes. If you are “too busy” to find time to do something you love, it is time to rearrange your schedule so that you are important.
Develop Your Emotional Well Being
When you have positive view of yourself, your relationships and your life you are said to have a positive emotional well being. Just as taking care of your physical health is important, so is taking care of your emotional health. A feeling of well being helps you make better decisions and be more content with your life. It helps you cope with setbacks and realize your full potential. Taking time to be still each day and to reflect on what is good in your life is one way to help build your emotional well being. Some other ways include:
- Deep Breathing exercises
- Creating a gratitude journal
- Listen to your thoughts
- Write in a journal
You might have other ways that you nurture your inner self and care for your emotional health. If not, try using some of the previous ideas and incorporating these in your everyday life. These help you focus on the positives in your life and improve your outlook as well as help you better manage stress and setbacks.
“Generalized Anxiety Disorder – Self-Care ,” Updated 2013, May 28, Updated by David B. Merrill, M.D., A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia
“Self-Care Self-Assessment Checklists and Measures,” Date Unknown, Staff Writer, University of New York, Buffalo
“Taking Care of Yourself,” Date Unknown, Staff writer, University of Michigan
Published On: December 08, 2014