Life can be tough, but we always find a way to carry on. Regardless of the situation, many of us still find a way to crunch in an early morning workout, team meeting and weekly meal prep, but do we ever set aside time for self care habits? We justify ourselves by saying things like: “I don't have enough time." or “It won't make a difference.” But self care habits are one of the easiest ways to reduce stress and have a better health.
What do we mean by self care?
Self care is the practice of preserving and prioritizing one’s own happiness, well being and health, even more during periods of stress. In other words, self care is anything that makes you feel happy, whole and healthy. Whether you already have a rooted self care routine or are looking for new ideas, here are six self care habits to help reduce stress and have a better health.
1. Get Enough Quality Sleep
Sleep is one of the most important things to prioritize to have the best health, but everyday's pressure has made catching zzz’s tricky. If unwinding after a long day is somewhat challenging, adopt a night time routine to help you feel relaxed before going to bed. Apply essential oils, complete a moderate yoga flow, curl up with a good book, work on some light stretching, light up some candles, turn off all devices or take a bubble bath. Anything you find relaxing and will help you unwind is setting you up for a real night of quality sleep.
2. Apply Essential Oils
Using essential oils is a great way to tap into our nervous system through aromatherapy. Each essential oil has its own unique set of properties. Some essential oils can calm and relax you, while others can energize and invigorate. Essential oils that can help soothe include cerdarwood, lavander, bergamot frankincense, eucalyptus, ylang ylang and wild orange. If you are feeling strain, try rubbing a couple of drops of one of these essential oils on your wrists or temples then breathing in deeply and enjoy the scent as you go about your normal day.
3. Physical Activity and Good Workouts
Exercise is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to reduce stress and anxiety. Not only does physical activity improve your physical health, but it will also have a positive effect on your mood. If you don’t have a daily exercise routine, start off with a 20 minute walk around the block and start gradually increasing your time as you feel comfortable. If you already have a workout plan structured, mix it up and try a new activities like some of these workout moves.
4. Breathe, Exhale, Repeat
It may sound simple, but changing the way we breathe can have deep effects on our health. The next time you feel agitated or exhausted, take two minutes and focus on your breath. Inhale for five and count to 5, hold for five counts then exhalf for five counts. This is strategy is called box breathing and can help you relax at any given moment. There is vast forms of breath work techniques one can choose from, but no matter which one you decide to try, consciously working on your breath will help you enjoy numerous benefits including a deep sense of calm, a clearer head and an overall sense of lightness.
Tip: Check out these eight breathing techniques for stress relief.
Like breathing, meditation is a good form of self care. As with deep breathing, meditation activates the parasympathetic nervous system and concurrently relaxes the body. Meditation can be as simple as closing your eyes for a few moments and focusing on your breath or it can mean taking a longer set of time, trying a certain pose, and closing your eyes while you focus on a specific mantra like calm, peace and surrender or some other word or phrase that resonates with you.
Tip: If you find yourself struggling to still your mind, get started with a meditation app like Calm or Headspace. Try multiple types of meditation techniques to see which one works best for you.
6. Express Gratitude Daily
Focusing on what we are already grateful for, shifts our attitude to focus on more positive things in our lives. During the day, write on a journal or mentally list five things you are grateful for in that moment. Expressing gratitude daily helps us focus on our internal state instead of focusing on our external state, which can ultimately lead to more positivity throughout the day. Your gratitude list can include something small like enjoying your favorite cup of coffee or tea or they can be as exciting as an upcoming gathering with family or friends.