Ever wondered how to effectively practice self care? It’s not all bubble baths and face masks. These days, self care is one of those buzzwords that is often pegged down to superficial activities. It can be difficult to understand what it actually means. The definition of self care is as follows:
“the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress”
It is so much more than just taking it easy in the evenings or going for a walk once a week. Here’s a guide on how to effectively practice self care.
Self-Care Tip #1
Turn off the phone
You may be wondering what’s the point in having so many ways to connect when we’re constantly told to put the phone down. While social media is great, it can also be extremely damaging. Apps like Instagram, though not intrinsically harmful, can cause us to wonder why our life is not like another person’s. Turn notifications off for apps such as Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter. Set timers for Instagram or TikTok, reminding you when to switch off. A great app to help you with this is Space; it alerts you when you’ve been on your phone too long and reminds you to take a break from the screen. Pick up a book or spend some quality time with friends instead.
Self Care Tip #2
Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
Different people thrive in different environments. Introverts require a lot of time to themselves whilst extroverts feed off the energy of others. If you’re unsure which one you are, you can take a quiz here. Knowing which one you are can help you realise what makes you comfortable or uncomfortable in certain situations. Be mindful of your personal needs, even if these aren’t the same as the people around you.
Self Care Tip #3
Make time for hobbies
Hobbies begin to fall away as we grow up – you stop reading, or going to play sports. As education gets more serious and your free time vastly reduces, it is natural to make less time for hobbies but they can be a fantastic way of effectively practicing self care. If there’s a hobby you used to love but no longer partake in, consider taking it up again, whether that be playing an instrument or painting or cycling. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn the ukulele or start horse riding. There’s no reason to stall on these hobbies.
Self Care Tip #4
Exercise and enjoy it
It is no secret that exercise is a must in the pursuit of effectively practicing self care. However it is also extremely personal and not one size fits all. You may hate the gym and if you try to force yourself to go, you’ll likely just give up. Find a type of exercise that works for you, be that dancing, yoga, swimming, running, walking, or strength training. It will work wonders for your body and your mind.
Self Care Tip #5
Another one that people never stop talking about, but for good reason. This is not to say that you can never treat yourself, but your body and mind won’t function as well if you’re not providing it with the right fuel. Adopting an 80/20 approach (eating well 80% of the time and indulging 20%) will allow you to keep those treats in your life while being overall healthier and happier.
Read more about food and your mood in our article here.
Self Care Tip #6
Shut off from work
In this digital world it can be difficult to shut off. You may finish work at 5PM, but it is all too easy to continue checking your emails late into the evening, and this can affect your mood. Make sure you’re leaving work at work – even if you’re currently working from home, you can switch off your email notifications for the evening. Don’t be tempted to continue work on the weekends, everyone needs a work/life balance.
Self Care Tip #7
This one can sound a bit wishy washy, but it can work wonders. It is easy to feel stressed or overwhelmed but to not always understand why. Practicing mindfulness, which can be defined as “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something” particularly when you’re feeling anxious can help you get to the bottom of those feelings, and finding a solution. Meditating can help although it is not necessary if it isn’t for you. Yoga or Pilates can also be great ways of practicing mindfulness and in turn, effectively practicing self care.
Self Care Tip #8
Take care of yourself before others
If you have ever been on an airplane, you’re probably familiar with the warning “in case of a cabin pressure emergency, put on your own mask first before assisting others.” This can be applied to all scenarios. If you’re not okay, how can you expect to help other people? It is easy to feel selfish and therefore neglect your own needs in place of someone else’s, but this will be damaging in the long run. Check in with yourself, particularly during periods of stress, and ensure you’re doing okay.
Self Care Tip #9
Surround yourself with positive people
Whether you believe in the likes of manifestation or any of the ideologies from The Secret, one thing is certain. It is very difficult to stay positive when you’re surrounded by negative people. You may not realise it at first, but pessimistic people can bring your mood down, and in turn make you less optimistic. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good and build you up. These changes to your social circle can go a long way in your plan to effectively practice self care.
Self Care Tip #10
There’s a whole article on our website here about gratitude journaling, which you can look at here. Writing down how you’re feeling can be as simple as acknowledging “I felt good today” or “I was really stressed today” and figuring out why that was the case. If the writing doesn’t work for you, try doodling instead. Expressing your feelings, particularly onto paper, can really help put things into perspective. Journaling doesn’t have to be emotional – you can simply write to-do lists if you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Getting your tasks out of your head and onto paper can free up the space in your mind, and crossing out these tasks when they’re completed feels great.
Self Care Tip #11
Seek professional help if required
Sometimes you need professional help in order to effectively practice self care. If you feel you aren’t coping, the best thing to do is talk to someone, whether that initially be a friend or family member, or a counsellor. They are there to provide the tools to help you help yourself and sometimes this is the best option.
If you are really struggling, you can read up here on how to best get help professionally.
Text HELLO to 50808 if you urgently need to speak to someone. Read more on this here.
Hopefully the above tips will be useful in how to effectively practice self care. It takes some work, but can make a real difference in your life and your happiness. If you have any of your own tips, please leave them in a comment below!