Do you feel selfish at the thought of taking some time for yourself? Do you feel guilty for not constantly attending to the needs of your children, family, colleagues, and friends?
While these are common feelings, they can quickly become a problem. Each of us has been given a special house to live in. Our own body, mind, and soul. It is our responsibility to take good care of it and treat it with respect since it carries within it our unique gifts and talents that we can offer the world. But many of us don’t respect it or treat it well. We run ourselves into the ground, managing limitless everyday demands, and helping everyone else before we take a moment for ourselves.
Eventually, the chronic stress of running on empty wreaks havoc on our health. Research shows that stress weakens the immune system and inflames the body, making us more susceptible to colds, weight gain, sleep issues, stomach ulcers, depression, diabetes, and heart disease. The physiological changes that result from prolonged stress are compounded by the poor choices we make when we are at the end of our rope.
When we have nothing left to give, we may use numbing activities to try to escape the stress – like zoning out in front of the TV and binging on junk foods or alcohol. This only perpetuates the cycle of obesity, disease, poor sleep, and, ultimately, an unhappy existence.
Take control of your life with self-care
Self-care is recharging your body as reliably as you charge your iPhone. Self-care is a tool that allows you to take responsibility for your own physical, emotional, psychological, and social needs. This helps you feel more in control of yourself and, ultimately, your life.
Self-care is about taking good care of our own needs and feelings so we can be the best version of ourselves. When we are in touch with our inner self we can reach out more effectively to others and show love and empathy to them. If we are filling our own tanks with self-respect and loving care, we have much more to give to our families, friends, and the world in general.
Self-care is not something you do once in a while to regain your sanity, and it’s not a guilty pleasure. It’s an important part of your daily and weekly routine. It’s vital to recognize that time spent recharging, replenishing, and restoring your energy counts as productive time; it’s a preventative measure that can help you overcome the stress of life and stay well so you can continue to do the things that are important to you.
How to do self-care on a budget
Self-care doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. In fact, the idea that self-care involves a pricey vacation or a new pair of shoes that you can’t really afford is probably a dysfunctional view of the concept. Regular, consistent self-care can start with simply taking some time each day to pause and reflect for a moment. Simple, stress-relieving practices can effectively quiet the mind, balance hormones – including cortisol (the stress hormone) – lower blood pressure, and improve brain health.
Here are some easy self-care practices you can do at home – and the cost? Very little (or none!).
Self-care starts with caring for our physical needs: getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and exercising. If you don’t have these basic factors dialed-in, make them a priority.
Make a vision board: Set aside some time to reflect on your dreams and desires and set yourself some goals. This helps show yourself that your feelings and wishes matter.
Diffuse essential oils: Give yourself a small gift of pleasure like enjoying some essential oils during your busy day or while you’re getting ready for bed.
Take time to be creative: Has that sewing machine, easel, or violin been put away for far too long? Make space to reconnect with your creative hobbies – they are an important part of you and give your brain space to step away from daily demands.
DIY beauty treatments: Why not try using items from your kitchen cabinets to make a soothing and nourishing treatment for your hair, face, or feet.
Practice yoga: Use a Youtube video to learn a simple yoga practice for free. Not only will you feel great, but you could reduce your risk of practically every major disease.
Write in a journal: Journaling is an incredibly beneficial self-care technique that doesn’t just enhance feelings of happiness, but reduces stress, clarifies thoughts and feelings, and ultimately helps you get to know yourself better. Self-connection is an important part of self-care.
Spend time in nature: A little quiet time amongst trees and sunlight is very therapeutic. You could also try walking barefoot in sand or grass to practice grounding.
Listen to music: Listening to some relaxing music is an accessible self-care method that can help fight stress, reduce anxiety, and even improve heart health measures.
Do a guided meditation: With many free meditation apps available these days, you could find a moment of peace and calm even if you only have a minute or two to spare.
Have an Epsom salt bath: The classic relaxing bath is something we are all familiar with, yet rarely practice. Need a better excuse to take a bath? Adding a scoop of Epsom salt could help top up your magnesium supply, which is critical for reduced anxiety, better sleep, and improved overall health.
Read a book: Even a quick 10-minute break to get lost in a good book can help you feel like life isn’t just about work and other people. It’s something that’s just for you.
If finding time for yourself during the evening or weekend seems like too much at the moment, there are still ways to work a little bit of self-care into your 9-to-5 life:
- Get up, stretch, and move several times during the workday.
- Snack smart, since nutrition plays a huge role in your ability to cope with stress.
- Take three deep breaths several times throughout your day.
- Bring your sneakers and go for a walk outside during your lunch break.
- Have lunch with co-workers outside the office.
Time is a scarce resource for most of us, so start small. Even fifteen minutes of self-care a couple of times a week can be incredibly restorative. Remember: self-care is not selfish; it’s self-preservation. Take care of yourself first, so you can be the best possible version of you for all those important and valuable things you do in the world.
-The UpWellness Team