January was a long and hectic month for many of us, and as the excitement of the new year dies down, it’s way too easy to settle back into our busy schedules - long work days, quick meals, and too little sleep.
We’ve all read the articles about how high stress affects our health. Now it’s time to do something about it. Take time for self-care. Bask in the quiet moments. Just be.
So what exactly is self-care?
Self-care can be any intentional activity that we do to take care of our physical, emotional, or mental well-being. Activities that you enjoy. Activities that leave you feeling better than when you started.
Everyone is ultimately striving to be their best personally and professionally, and we have to put ourselves first in order to get where we want to be. We have to be our best so that we can give our best.
If self-care is so important and so enjoyable, why don’t we practice it more?
Maybe there isn’t enough time in the day, or maybe we take a backseat to our other responsibilities. Well, self-care doesn’t have to feel squeezed into your already packed schedule - it can be a natural part of the day.
How can you practice self-care?
First, identify activities that you enjoy and that help you to relax.
My favorite way to wind down at the end of a long day is to practice yoga or mindfulness and then take a hot bath before bed. Even after working late, I can always find time for five minutes to just sit, breathe, and be still.
Try out some these great ways to practice self-care:
Exercise: Try out a new kind of work out class. Not only is exercising good for your physical health, it releases endorphins and improves self-esteem!
Get some fresh air: Spending time in nature can improve mental health. Appreciate the sunlight on your face and the leaves rustling in the breeze. You don’t even have to take time out of your day - take your lunch outside if you’re feeling pressed for time.
Read a book or take a bath: Nothing says relaxing to me like a good book. Reading before bed (instead of late night screen time) can actually help you wind down and get better sleep!
Just remember, putting yourself first will allow you to manage all of your other responsibilities.
When you’re on a plane, flight attendants tell you that in the event of a pressure change in the cabin, oxygen masks will drop from above. Passengers are advised to put their oxygen masks on before helping others.
That oxygen mask is self-care. When you’re feeling the pressure of professional, familial, or social responsibilities, remember to put yourself first. Care for yourself so that you can be your best and so that you can give your best to others.