Self-Care Strategies for Busy FolksDecember 4, 2018
Eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep, and making time for friends and fun can all take a back seat to daily demands that sometimes seem impossible to accomplish in a 24-hour span. But the fact is you need to make time for self-care to tackle your to-do list effectively. If self-care is a struggle, try these tips to fit it into your crowded calendar.
A sound night’s sleep is one of the basic building blocks of an effective self-care routine. In fact, getting enough sleep can boost your memory, increase your lifespan, help you maintain a healthy weight, lengthen your attention span, boost your athletic and work performance, and stave off stress and symptoms of depression.
You can improve sleep quality by cutting out caffeine as bedtime nears, sticking to a set sleep schedule, creating a consistent routine that helps you wind down before bed, and eliminating distractions like televisions and smartphones in your sleeping space. If light pollution is a problem, invest in some blackout curtains to help keeps streetlights and headlights from disrupting your slumber. As an added bonus, good sleep hygiene also lends itself to other aspects of self-care, such as having enough energy to exercise.
If all else fails, it could be your mattress that’s negatively affecting your quality of sleep. If it’s been a few years since you’ve purchased a new one (some experts believe you should start thinking about replacing your mattress at around the five-year mark), it might be time to take the plunge. However, if your budget won’t allow for a new mattress at the moment, consider going with the bed-in-a-box option. Not only are these mattresses delivered right to your front door and easy to navigate through the house (until you unbox it, of course), but you can find one for around $100 — without sacrificing comfort or proper support.
You shouldn’t sacrifice sleep to squeeze in a workout. But it sometimes seems impossible to carve out time for everything in an effective self-care routine, and exercise is often the first thing to go. One way to make time for everything on a long to-do list is by combining some activities. For instance, think about recruiting a close pal as a hiking buddy and indulge in a long weekend to recharge your batteries, refresh your relationship, and get some fresh air and exercise. Suggest a moving meeting at work and walk around the building or outdoors while discussing plans and problems. Or schedule a solo sweat session in order to multitask by also catching up on some “me time.” If you don’t have the time to drive to the gym, you can create an in-home gym in a spare room instead.
Trying a new activity offers another way to stack self-care priorities. Sign up for a group fitness class you’ve never attended and make an effort to connect with classmates. Making new friends who share a commitment to healthy habits will reinforce your resolve to work out regularly. Plus, trying new things benefits both your body and brain. Not only will you be working different muscles, your brain will also learn how to use those muscles and moves more effectively as you gain practice, according to an article in Shape. New activities also create a perception in your brain that stretches out time, making your precious off hours seem to last longer. Finally, mastering skills boosting your confidence and self-esteem, a big bonus when it comes to self-care.
And whipping up new healthy recipes offers many of the same benefits. For instance, expanding your recipe repertoire can boost your confidence and excite taste buds that might be bored with your regular menu. Interesting new recipes can also encourage you to experiment with ingredients that might not be familiar to you.
If you aren’t as comfortable in the kitchen as you could be, consider investing in a cookbook based on a cuisine you don’t have much experience with as a chef. Or enroll in a cooking class that emphasizes healthy fare.
Such steps could turn cooking from a chore into a hobby for you, and studies have shown such active leisure pursuits increase people’s sense of mental well-being and boost brain health. Hobbies can also help reduce stress while increasing your sense of satisfaction, two primary purposes of self-care.
Mindfulness practices are also a great way to supplement your self-care routine and sneak in some of the same benefits as exercise and healthy eating. For instance, studies show yoga can help reduce practitioners’ heart rates, lower blood pressure, and possibly increase the body’s ability to cope with stress and pain. Experts also say yoga—and the meditation practice often integrated in it—promotes self-discovery and self-acceptance, another important goal for self-care.
So if your own needs always seem to be the last thing on your list of priorities, consider adopting activities that offer a bevy of benefits that help you achieve multiple self-care goals.