Self-care is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle. Taking the time to regularly do things that reduce stress, boost your mood, and nourish your body not only makes life more enjoyable, it also helps you maintain long-term health. But many of us miss some of the basic self-care practices that can make a positive impact on how we feel everyday.
While any self-care program must be tailored to your personal needs, there are some basics that everyone should incorporate into their lifestyles. Whether you already have a good self-care routine or are looking to start one, here are three often overlooked practices that you can start doing today.
Protect Your Sleep
While it might seem like you aren’t really accomplishing much when you’re snoozing, getting enough sleep is actually critical to your well-being. Insufficient or poor quality sleep is linked to a higher risk of anxiety and depression, poor memory, and an increased risk of accidents. If you tend to feel drowsy during the day, don’t feel refreshed when you wake up in the morning, or rely on caffeine to feel alert, you probably need to improve your sleep habits.
To get started, make sure you go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, even on your days off. Also, check your sleep environment to make sure it’s conducive to a good night’s. Make sure it’s dark, quiet, and cool, and avoid doing things in bed that aren’t relaxing, like answering emails or paying bills.
Get Some Sun
Many people love to soak up sunshine on vacation, but forget to make it an everyday practice. It turns out that sunshine is important to your mental health, and without it, you are more apt to be moody. Even on cloudy days or in polluted environments, getting outside in the sun can help stabilize your emotions and boost your outlook.
For that matter, spending time outdoors has been linked to a number of important health benefits. Whether you like to go for a hike or simply enjoy a sunny park bench with your coffee, you’ll benefit from reduced stress levels, improved memory, a happier disposition, and lowered risk for anxiety and depression. You can even enhance your energy levels and improve your quality of sleep.
Say ‘No’ More Often
Are you the go-to person at work who always takes the extra assignments when things are falling behind? Do you make a dish for every potluck, volunteer for booster club, and lend a hand at ballgames? Are you always loaning money to friends and loved ones, even when you’re having to do without at home?
While being generous is a good quality, it’s important to recognize when you are overdoing it. Setting boundaries is key to maintaining a balanced life, even if saying “no” makes you uncomfortable.
If you find yourself doing things for others when you’d rather not, it’s time to do some introspection and ask yourself why you are putting others’ needs above your own. If you struggle with setting healthy boundaries, you can download free worksheets to help you sort things out.
Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish or indulgent. In fact, having a healthy relationship with yourself is the basis for all other healthy relationships. At the core, it means taking responsibility for your own well-being and paying attention to how your behavior affects how you feel. When your lifestyle truly supports your well-being, it’s easier to be your best self — and that’s when you have more to give.