What’s your self-care routine like? Are you regularly taking good care of your body, mind, and spirit so that you can live your best life? If you generally feel tired, depressed, unmotivated and a little bit burned out, you may need to re-evaluate how well you’re caring for yourself and do better.
We want to help. At Exercises for Injuries, we’d like to help you care for yourself better. Here’s our list of 11 things that you can do to take care of yourself well.
1. Get Outside
Getting outside more can nourish your body, mind, and soul. Research out of the University of Essex, in England, found that study participants who engaged in outdoor activities had significantly improved moods and better feelings of self-esteem after they spent just five minutes outside.
Care for yourself better by taking a walk outside from time to time. Breathe in deeply and enjoy the sunshine. Researchers have found that adults spend more than 90 percent of their days indoors, which means most of us are lacking fresh air and wide open spaces.
2. Eat a Salad
Experts differ in how many servings of fruits and vegetables we need each day. For the longest time, we thought it was five to nine servings a day. Now, research shows us that 10 servings a day are best.
Care for your body well by eating a big salad in place of one of your meals at least once a day. Start with two cups of washed, organic leafy greens, then add a half cup of raspberries, one small diced bell pepper, a cup of chopped tomatoes and a half cup of dried cranberries. Boom! That’s six of your recommended fruit and vegetable servings in one bowl. Add a simple dressing of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and some spices, and you’ve got a truly delicious meal.
3. Drink Water First Thing
Care for yourself by staying hydrated better ― starting as early as possible. When you get ready for bed tonight, fill a 20-ounce refillable water bottle with filtered water. Put the lid on and set it on top of your bedside table. Then, go about your regular nighttime routine. In the morning, when you wake up and before you exit the bed, drink the entire bottle of water. It may seem like a lot to drink at first, but your organs have gone without hydration for eight long hours. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to drink the entire 20 ounces within just a few minutes.
Throughout the rest of the day, refill that empty bottle several times. Make sure you remember to fill it again at bedtime. If you prefer variety in your hydration, switch to sparkling water instead. My husband puts a bottle or can of his favorite carbonated water on his nightstand to drink first thing in the morning. Just make sure to check the ingredient labels. Your sparkling water should have no sugar, sweeteners or artificial flavors ― just water, carbonation, and a natural flavor if any. Only water will hydrate you fully.
4. Get a Checkup
How long has it been since your last annual checkup? If it’s been more than a year, make an appointment with your general practitioner and get a physical. While you’re there, request a full blood panel so that your doctor can help you see if you’re deficient in any essential nutrients. You can care for yourself best if you’re armed with knowledge about your health.
5. Sleep for Eight Hours
One of the healthiest things you can do to take good care of yourself is to sleep a solid eight hours every night. This may mean avoiding afternoon caffeine, shutting off the tube earlier or not staying out as late.
If it’s difficult for you to fall asleep and stay asleep all night, consider taking a high-quality calcium and magnesium supplement about an hour before you plan to hit the sack. These two minerals work together to help you sleep better and longer. Magnesium helps to relax all of the muscles in your body. Calcium also induces relaxation and promotes the production of melatonin (the sleep hormone) in your body. Calcium also helps you get into a deeper sleep and stay asleep through the night.
6. Commit to Not Overcommitting
Respect your own schedule and activity level by saying “no” regularly. If your dance card tends to fill up quickly with all sorts of obligations and activities, take a moment to decide which invites you’ll accept. Choose the things you want to do or that matter to you. Skip the direct selling parties, weddings of people you barely know and social events that feel like chores.
You need time for yourself so that you can pursue the activities you enjoy and also just to relax. Don’t pack your schedule so full that you don’t have the necessary time you need to eat well, sleep well, exercise and enjoy your life.
7. Get 30 Minutes of Exercise Most Days
Often, it isn’t that we don’t want to exercise ― it’s that we aren’t taking the time we need to prioritize exercise. Your body needs to move for a minimum of 30 minutes, most days of the week. Get up an hour early to make sure you can get in a brisk walk or bike ride before work. Meet up with a friend to exercise during your lunch break or hit the gym on your way home. Choose an exercise activity that you like and care for your body enough to make the time to do it.
8. Unload Belongings That You Don’t Need
When your home is piled high with clutter, it’s difficult to relax. Consider taking the time to go through your belongings and pare down. Many charity organizations will come directly to your home and pick up unwanted items. Schedule a Monday morning pick up and spend your weekend bagging up the items you no longer need or use. You’ll be surprised at how good it feels to eliminate stuff that you don’t need or want. Care for yourself well by clearing out the clutter.
9. Breathe Deeply
Taking deep breaths can lower your blood pressure, relieve stress, induce feelings of calmness and relaxation. A friend of mine, who is a medical doctor, sets her smartwatch to remind her to breathe deeply throughout the day. Take better care of yourself by breathing deeply.
One deep breathing technique that seems to be particularly beneficial is the Nadi Shodhana method, also known as alternate nasal breathing.
Here’s how you do it: Get into a comfortable meditative posture. With your mouth closed, hold your left thumb over your left nostril and breathe in deeply through the right nostril. Just as you’ve fully inhaled, close off the right nostril and exhale through the left nostril. When you have completely exhaled, use your right thumb to close off your right nostril and inhale. Exhale through your left nostril. Continue this alternating pattern for a few moments.
This exercise will help you to relax and feel balanced. It is also said to help the left and right sides of the brain unite. Use this alternate nasal breathing a few times a day and especially when you need a clear head and a natural boost of energy.
10. Talk Kindly to Yourself
Do you have a friend that you value and love? Do you tell that friend that he or she is worthless, stupid, not worth much, fat or lazy? Of course not. However, do you sometimes tell yourself nasty things? Do you internally call yourself an idiot when you lose your keys? Have you ever gotten on the scale and think about how fat you’ve gotten or how lazy you are? If so, you’ve got to care for yourself better by beginning to replace your negative self-talk with kinder, gentler words.
The first step to improving your self-talk is to begin to listen for the insults you hurl at yourself on the regular. Catch yourself and correct it. Author Evelyn Lim wrote about a good way to eliminate this kind of behavior. She says, “A great method that I have found useful is to say “cancel, cancel” each time I find myself saying something negative, whether in the mind or verbally.” This method works quickly and will help you get into the habit of editing your inner critic.
Once you’ve put an end to the negative words you’ve been saying to yourself, it’s time to choose better words. Give yourself a little internal high five when you’ve done well at work. Think about your strengths and remind yourself of your accomplishments once in a while. Don’t hang around people who tend to pick on you or point out your imperfections. Treat yourself in the way you would treat a cherished friend.
A few nights ago, I was getting ready to take a bath. As I was preparing my water, I reached for my phone and thought, “What should I watch while I’m in the tub?” I realized as I was considering it, that what I needed most was to unplug from all the noise. I needed to take the time to enjoy my bath without feeling like the time I was bathing needed to be filled with entertainment.
Take some time to unplug each day. Maybe you need an hour to enjoy some tea after work without being on call to whoever wants to contact you via text. Perhaps first thing in the morning, you prefer some tech-free time to wake up and listen to the birds in your backyard. Whatever the case, give yourself some time away from screens, phones, and laptops and just be.
Unplugging is essential to self-care. A friend of mine turns her internet router and modem off every evening at a certain time and keeps it off until morning. Her cellphone is still on and operable, but everything else is quiet. It’s a good practice that helps her entire family have devoted time, with each night free from the distractions of internet-operated devices.
Take Good Care
We came across a beautiful admonition from an unknown source: “An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.” If you haven’t been taking the best care of yourself, there’s no better time than now to start.
Barton, J. (2010). What is the best dose of nature and green exercise for improving mental health? A multi-study analysis. Retrieved from: 10.1021/es903183r
Lim, E. (2008). 7 steps to positive self-talk. Retrieved from: https://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/7-steps-to-positive-self-talk/
Shakeshaft, J. (2012). 6 breathing exercises to relax in 10 minutes or less. Retrieved from: http://healthland.time.com/2012/10/08/6-breathing-exercises-to-relax-in-10-minutes-or-less/
Spending time outdoors is good for you, from the Harvard Health Letter. (2010). Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/spending-time-outdoors-is-good-for-you