Projects at work that are past their deadline, a child who woke up with a fever so now you have to take a sick day, a packed calendar, bills are due, and simply no time to even take a breath! In our modern times, we are so busy all the time! And all of that business, all of those commitments, everything piling up is STRESSFUL!
We get so wrapped up in the busyness of life, that we forget to take care of ourselves. Sometimes, it can seem selfish to say no or take some time to relax without all the noise of life. That mindset can quickly lead to burnout. Self-care is not a luxury, it’s an important part of overall health and it’s crucial! That’s why today, we’re going to be giving some ideas for easy self-care that is completely free!
Take a Walk
Exercise is well studied for its stress reducing effects and ability to boost our moods. When we’re stressed and feeling burned out, however, we may simply feel to exhausted to hit the gym for a workout. Taking a walk, on the other hand, is an easy way to get some exercise without taxing the body. Walking is something that you can do whenever you find the time and wherever you are. Even a short 15 minute walk away from a source of stress (like your desk at work) can provide benefits. Walking is meditative, mood boosting, and will help you step away so you can refocus once you return.
Go Outside in Nature
The Japanese have a practice called Shinrin Yoku, which loosely translates to Forest Bathing. Many studies have shown that being outside in nature reduces stress, calms the mind and body, lifts your mood, and helps improve your immunity! Bonus points if you leave your smart phone behind (if it is safe to do so) and walk around barefoot to really connect with nature. You won’t reap the benefits of forest bathing if you’re just sitting on a log scrolling through your newsfeed. You need to really disconnect for some time, listen to the sounds of nature, smell the natural smells, and appreciate the natural world going on with its day.
Drink More Water
Even slight dehydration can cause fatigue, brain fog, irritability, and increase your stress levels. Ensuring you’re sipping on water consistently throughout the day is the simplest act of self-care but it is so very powerful!
Find a Creative Outlet
Even if you’re “just not a creative person,” you have something that you can use as a creative outlet. Take pictures with your phone, doodle in a notebook, color, write, sing along to the radio in your car, or bake and decorate some cupcakes. There are millions of ways to be creative, and creativity IS self-care. If you’re unsure of what you can do to be creative, think back to elementary school, about what you did for fun, and revisit those passions.
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In times of stress, humans naturally focus on the bad and forego the good. This is actually an evolutionary response that has kept us alive on the plains of Africa when a lion could be stalking us at any given time. Today, we don’t have to worry about lions or other predators, but we are still hardwired to focus more on the negative than the positive. Taking a few minutes every day to mindfully focus on gratitude can have a huge impact on your quality of life. Regularly expressing gratitude has been linked to both physical and psychological health, improved relationships, lower stress, and even better sleep! Practicing gratitude is easy- you can journal three things you’re grateful for at the end of the day, or get an app on your phone to help track your gratitude (and even remind you!), or if journaling isn’t your thing, try saying three things that you’re thankful for in the mirror to yourself at night before you brush your teeth! No matter HOW you do it, you’ll be able to reap the benefits as long as you commit to it.
Can you think of other ways to practice self-care that we did not mention today? Maybe it is volunteering, writing, birdwatching, or astronomy. Maybe your version of self-care is a hot bubble bath, knitting, or a cup of hot tea every night. Use these opportunities of exploring hobbies or indulging in downtime to get in touch with that spirit of positivity and gratitude — it’s amazing how much better you’ll feel when taking care of yourself mind, body, and spirit.
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