How Simple Self-Care Habits Can Change Your Life

Self-care is all about treating your mind and your body with compassion. It involves acknowledging your personal need for care and taking the time to treat yourself. Though it may sound selfish, self-care is a vital part of keeping your mind healthy. Without it, we experience anxiety, depression, stress and burnout.

Support your mental health with some of these basic but often-overlooked wellness practices and see how good it makes you feel.

NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF REST

We’re often told that hard work is the path toward happiness. We even look down on people who spend a lot of time resting. However, Americans tend to work too many hours, leading to chronic stress and a lower overall quality of life. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to extra work when you already have a lot on your plate. And whenever you can, make time in your day for rest. Try out daily meditation, deep breathing exercises or starting a good book. Though social arrangements can be relaxing, they can also be stressful if you’re already feeling overwhelmed. Don’t feel guilty about choosing to spend some alone time with yourself instead.

PRACTICE GOOD SLEEP HYGIENE

Sleep has a huge impact on our health. But according to Healthline, Western society interferes with our body’s natural sleep patterns, which leads to an overall decrease in sleep quality. This is a problem because sleepplays an important role in our cognitive performance, productivity, concentration, and memory. Poor sleep has even been linked to higher rates of depression and reduced mood regulation. Instead, strive for quality sleep by following these sleep hygiene tips:

  • Go to bed and get up at the same time every day
  • Avoid naps in the day
  • Don’t watch TV or read in bed
  • Avoid caffeine in the afternoon
  • Get regular exercise
  • Create a dark, cool, and quiet bedroom space

REDUCE STRESS IN EVERY ASPECT OF LIFE

Stress doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be, a regular part of your day. Luckily, there are many ways to reduce stress in your life. Start by taking some time in the mornings to be still and quiet. Perhaps you want to meditate or simply read a book. This will help you start your day in a positive mood.

If possible, take a walk in nature during your work breaks. The low-impact aerobic activity will help improve your cognitive performance by increasing blood flow to the brain. It will also release anxiety-reducing chemicals in your body to help you fight stress at work. Plus, just being in a natural setting has been shown to reduce the amount of cortisol in the blood and lower blood pressure. No time for a nature break at work? Set up a hammock at home that you can relax in before or after your 9-to-5 grind. Bonus points if it’s in a shady spot surrounded by fragrant flowers, which will be extra soothing in times of stress, according to experts interviewed by Wayfair. And remember: if you need a quick mental health boost at any time during the day, even just smiling and looking for joy around you can help!

MAKE TIME IN YOUR DAY FOR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

Exercise is one of the fastest and healthiest ways to reduce stress and improve your mood. In fact, Shapeclaims that exercise can be just as beneficial as antidepressant medication in treating symptoms of depression. On top of this, exercise boosts your self-confidence since it helps you see yourself more positively. Getting moving can even help increase your energy levels throughout the day. So, if you're feeling sluggish or otherwise unmotivated, go for a quick jaunt around the block or through the park. It might just be the perfect remedy for a bad day.

Importantly, self-care involves being honest with yourself. Try to be mindful of how you're feeling throughout the day and acknowledge your thoughts without judging them. This awareness will help you make decisions about how to best react to various situations you come across in life. Instead of automatically responding to negativity with stress and tension, you'll be able to make conscious decisions that support a calm and healthy mind.