Ideas You Can Use All Year Long
For many people, the beginning of the new year is the time to make resolutions. Most New Year resolutions focus on getting in shape or losing weight — but an ongoing wellness plan should be about more than just our physical health. Although exercising more and shedding pounds are admirable goals, it’s important to care for all areas of your health, including your emotional and mental wellbeing. One way to live a more balanced life in the new year is through practicing self-care.
You’ve probably heard of self-care before, but what is, it, exactly? According to Psych Central, self-care “is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health,” which is key to improved mood, reduced anxiety, and good relationships.
Although self-care is important, many people find it difficult to carve out the time for themselves, especially if they have other people depending on them. Family obligations, limited finances, and hectic work schedules can all interfere with our ability to practice self-care, and many people feel guilty or selfish taking a time-out for themselves, no matter how much it’s needed. But self-care isn’t just about considering our needs; it’s about helping ourselves so we’re in a good position to help others.
Self-care doesn’t have to be complicated, costly, or time-consuming. Even fifteen minutes of practicing gratitude, or being kind can make a difference! Here are some ways you can incorporate self-care into your wellness plan this year:
Practicing gratitude is an effective but easy way to practice self-care. According to Forbes, practicing gratitude is scientifically proven to improve physical and psychological health, self-esteem, and the quality of sleep. You can send a note of gratitude to someone in your life, or do a short gratitude practice before bed by creating a list. Regardless of your approach, a good gratitude practice can be a simple but powerful addition to your wellness plan.
Connect with Others
Even outside of self-care, connecting with others is important for your health; loneliness raises levels of circulating stress hormones that can raise blood pressure and undermine memory over time. Our social lives can fall to the wayside when we become busy, but it’s important to connect with others in ways that are meaningful for us. This could include having dinner with an old friend, spending quality time with family, or meeting new people. If you’d like to join new communities, consider volunteering for a cause you feel passionate about or trying out a group fitness class near you. The best part? Both volunteering and exercise can be good for your physical health, too, giving you an added wellness bonus!
Whether you’re trying a group class or going solo, exercise is an excellent way to practice self-care. Besides controlling your weight and keeping you healthy, exercise can be helpful in boosting your mood and energy levels. One caveat? Self-care should be something you enjoy doing, so if you’re forcing yourself to hit the gym it may be time to switch up your routine. Whether it’s trying pilates for the first time or hitting a local hiking trail, it’s important to find exercise(s) that don’t feel like a chore. If you want to get into an exercise routine but don’t know where to start, consider asking friends what they enjoy, or touring a local fitness studio for ideas.
Make a Point to Be Kind
If you’re struggling to practice self-care, a focus on kindness could be a natural incorporation into your wellness plan. Practicing kindness not only allows us to positively impact others in our lives, but also improve our own wellness; according to one study, regular “helpers” are more likely to be in good health, because kindness reduces stress and releases endorphins. Whether they’re helping friends, family, or strangers, natural do-gooders will get a boost from kind actions!
Making Self-Care a Priority
Whether it’s catching an episode of your favorite show, sipping coffee at a local coffee shop, or cooking a delicious meal, doing the things we love can boost our mood and center our minds. Self-care can involve trying a new workout class or simply having gratitude at the end of a long day. Regardless of what you choose, self-care is an opportunity to take time for you!