Self-care is an important part of staying physically and mentally healthy. Caring for yourself is an active choice that you can make every day in a sustainable way. That sounds simple, but most people struggle to incorporate self-care into their daily routines because they think it seems selfish. Caring for yourself actually helps you be of better service to others. It also improves your productivity, helps prevent burnout, reduces the negative psychological and physical effects of stress, and helps you refocus on what is important.
For many people learning to take care of yourself can be challenging, as it is hard to make changes when you are familiar with old patterns. Here are three ways that you can try to tune inwards and take better care of yourself.
Breathe like a yogi.
Studies suggest that 20 minutes of yoga breathing can lift your mood and even improve your memory. What is yoga breathing? Basic breath awareness. You can practice this when you are sitting at your desk, or even driving. Draw attention to your breath. Is it shallow? A feeling of holding your breath. Focus on deep breathing, long inhales, allowing your shoulders to naturally rise with the inhale and release with the exhale. Let your belly expand and contract. Continue that 5-10 times. Once you are comfortable, try alternate-nostril breathing: Make an L with your right thumb and first finger; take a deep breath; press the right side of your nose with your thumb to block your right nostril; exhale; inhale through your left nostril; block your left nostril and release the right; exhale; inhale. Switch sides; repeat.
Give your eyes a break.
So much of our days is spent in front of screens; prevent digital eyestrain (dry eyes, headaches, and blurred vision) by following the rule of 20: Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break (no, not by looking at your smart phone). If you are able, every 40 minutes allow for a 10-minute break. Have a glass of water, stretch, walk away from the computer, and come back feeling re-charged.
You can also consider blue blocking lenses. Blue light blocking glasses can ease digital eye strain, decrease your risk of macular degeneration, reduce glare, and increase the clarity of your vision.
Join a free online support group.
At times we need to unload our drifting thoughts or ongoing trauma and fears. Finding a therapist to work with is a good thing for most — but for some, the scheduling or monetary commitment for 1-on-1 therapy may be too great. Support groups can provide an outlet to discuss talk about important issues or stressors in your life. With the COVID-19 pandemic, many have shifted to providing online services, if therapy is new to you, the comfort of your home can be very helpful. Remember, taking care of your mental health is just as important as your physical health.
Give one of these a try, and remember that self-care is not a luxury, it is a necessity.