How to Score Better Sleep with a Simple Self-Care Routine
If you haven’t heard about self-care and how important it is to your health, you’re most definitely in the minority, since it seems to be a hot topic in the news, on social media, and best-selling self-help books.
But what exactly is self-care and what the heck is the point? It can seem like a bit of a wishy-washy topic, to be sure, especially if you’ve only heard it mentioned in passing as you make your way through the office or as you flip through television channels.
Self-care is something that we should all be practicing in our lives, in order to become happier and healthier, which sounds great, right? But there are so many different ways to practice self-care and so many thoughts on the topic, it can seem a bit overwhelming.
That’s where this short guide to the importance of self-care and how to fit it into your life comes into play. We’re going to lay it all out for you and help you create your own simple self-care routine. Trust us, you’ll be glad that you did!
What Exactly is Self-Care?
The term “self-care” is pretty broad reaching, isn’t it? Put simply, anything you do to take care of yourself falls under the umbrella of self-care. It’s all about knowing when you’ve been burning the candle at both ends and stepping up to the plate to be kind to yourself.
Self-care is about applying the Golden Rule to others and yourself, in order to prevent burnout and to help keep you feeling as healthy and happy as possible. Sounds easy enough, right?
The truth is that many of us seem to have trouble being as compassionate to ourselves as we are to those in our day-to-day lives, which can be harder than it might seem. Just think about all of the times you’ve put your own needs to the side to take care of a family member, coworker, or friend.
It’s also important to make sure that self-care centers around doing good things for yourself, instead of simply taking part in unhealthy coping mechanisms that result in a temporary sense of feeling good, such as drinking alcohol, binge eating, or taking drugs.
When you’re taking the time to integrate healthy self-care practices (which we will go over in a bit), you just might be surprised by how many long-term benefits you’ll see in yourself.
What Are the Benefits of Self-Care?
Now that you have a better understanding of just what self-care is, let’s talk about the benefits you’ll see when you practice it, and just why it’s so important to your overall health and happiness.
Some of the most obvious bonuses to taking care of yourself include boosted energy levels and an improved mood. But there have been multiple studies done that show there are some even bigger and better results that make self-care super beneficial.
Strengthened Immune System: Multiple studies have shown that many self-care activities help to kick your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) into gear, meaning your body becomes better rested, in turn helping you to feel more rejuvenated and keeping common colds, bouts of the flu, or even stomach upset at bay.
Increased Self-Esteem: Making time for taking care of yourself helps you to meet the needs of your mind and body, which subconsciously sends feel-good messages to your brain and other body systems. This reminds you that you’re valuable, just by being you, and can go a long way to preventing negative self-talk and depression.
Boosted Productivity: Simply learning to tell others “no” when you don’t have enough time to lend them a hand can help you to avoid overextending yourself, giving you more time to get your own work down, and a chance to slow down and actually enjoy life.
Improved Knowledge of Self: Practicing self-care gives you a chance to focus on the things that you actually enjoy doing and requires some time spent learning more about what really makes you tick. This can leave you feeling inspired and passionate about yourself and might even help you to prioritize your hobbies or career once again.
Extra Compassion: Giving yourself permission to take care of yourself can leave you feeling a bit selfish, but the reality is that practicing self-care actually has the opposite effect, thanks to helping you recharge your battery and feel more compassionate about the wants and needs of others around you.
What Are the Types of Self-Care?
Right about now, you’re probably thinking that all of the benefits of practicing self-care sound great, but who actually has the time to make special efforts to take care of themselves, right?
Well, the good news is that there are tons of ways to take part in self-care, and none of them require a lot of time or planning, no matter how busy you might be in your day-to-day life. Seriously!
The trick is to find some relaxing self-care practices that you truly enjoy and fit them into your daily routine. Once you get started, you’ll most likely find yourself being pretty darn protective over the time you spend caring for yourself, and start wondering how you ever lived without it.
Let’s take a look at the five main self-care categories, how they can help you, and some ideas for adding them into your life today.
This type of taking care of yourself is all about calming your mind by tuning into the sensations that are all around you, using all of your senses, including sight, smell, sound, and touch.
Sensory self-care can help you live in the present, allowing you to let go of your frustrations and anxieties, simply by focusing on what you’re sensing in the moment.
Just keep in mind that most of us respond more to one sense than the others, so take the time to discover which one is most relaxing and effective for you.
Ideas for Practicing Sensory Self-Care
- Wrap yourself up in a warm, snuggly blanket
- Visit the beach and take deep breaths of the air
- Gaze at the flame from a candle or a fireplace
- Focus on the feel of the water in a warm bath
- Try some simple mindful yoga movements
- Listen to your favorite music with closed eyes
- Indulge in a rich square of gourmet chocolate
- Take a walk in the grass without any shoes
Taking care of your emotional health is one of the most important things that you can do for yourself. Identifying and facing the emotions that you’re feeling head-on can help you to lower your level of stress and boost your feelings of happiness.
The trick is to not push negative feelings like anger or sadness to the side when they happen, but actually accept them, feel them fully, and then move on, since there truly are no “good” or “bad” emotions. It’s all about how you respond to them!
Take a look at the following examples of how to practice better self-care when it comes to feeling your emotions and focusing on optimal emotional wellness…
Ideas for Practicing Emotional Self-Care
- Record your feelings (honestly!) in a journal each day
- Check in with a therapist for a few “wellness sessions”
- Create a list of words that describe what you’re feeling
- Carve out time to spend with a trusted friend or relative
- Keep track of your dreams to better understand your emotions
- Give yourself permission to cry when you’re feeling sad
- Encourage yourself to laugh out loud on a daily basis
- Sing along to a song that speaks to what you’re feeling
If religion isn’t really your thing, you might be tempted to skip this section altogether, but hear us out, okay?
Taking care of yourself spiritually isn’t about organized religion. In fact, this type of self-care is just as important to atheists as it is to the uber-religious folks out there.
Spiritual self-care is about getting in touch with what matters to you and the values that you hold near and dear to your heart. It’s also a great way to ward off depression and sleepless nights caused my anxiety and negative self-talk.
Ideas for Practicing Spiritual Self-Care
- Pick up a book of poetry and read some out loud
- Take a walk in nature and reflect on the beauty it holds
- Write a list of 10 things you feel truly grateful to have
- Start (and maintain) a daily mindful meditation practice
- Get creative and try drawing, writing, or making music
- Speak affirmations that help to ground your sense of self
- Take a trip to photograph things that inspire and motivate you
Believe it or not, taking care of yourself in the social sense is also important to your health and happiness. It might not seem as if dinner with friends is crucial to your wellness but being around others helps to combat feelings of isolation.
Whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, an introvert or an extrovert, being “seen” by others helps us to understand that we aren’t alone and connect with people that help us to feel good about ourselves.
Just remember that social self-care isn’t a popularity contest – it’s all about creating a circle of people that help you to feel at your best by doing good things for each other.
Ideas for Practicing Social Self-Care
- Make a lunch date with a friend you haven’t seen in a while
- Send an email to someone you miss that lives far away
- Reach out to a family member you don’t speak to often
- Spend some quiet, quality time at home with loved ones
- Think about joining a group of folks that share your interests
- Cut off communication with those that weaken or impair you
- Start a conversation with an interesting stranger in public
- Sign up for a class that intrigues you to meet new people
And finally, don’t forget about taking care of yourself physically. After all, you only get one body, so you need to keep it in tip-top shape!
Physical self-care isn’t just about working out or eating right. It’s also about getting active to let off steam and help your natural body clock to perform at its peak.
Keep in mind that taking some time to rest and recharge is just as important to your physical well-being as hitting the gym or getting enough veggies in your diet.
Broaden your concept of physical self-care by taking a look at some of these tips for taking care of your body…
Ideas for Practicing Physical Self-Care
- Get up and dance to your favorite music
- Practice yoga or pilates at least once a week
- Try a new sport by taking a class or joining a team
- Jog or bike through the countryside with your dog
- Go for a 30-minute walk at least three times a week
- Take a short nap when you need a quick recharge
- Just say “no” to invites when you’re simply exhausted
- Soak in a warm bubble bath at the end of a hard day
- Commit to getting 7-9 hours of sleep every single night
Remember That Sleep is the Best Self-Care
Remember that sleep is the best kind of self-care and should be the easiest for us to fit into our schedule, since we need it to survive and thrive. Take a look at these helpful hints to becoming happier and healthier through more restful nights.