It is common knowledge that looking after yourself is a key factor in happiness. However, in these challenging times it can be hard to implement positive, effective self-care habits.
A report by the Australian Health Policy Collaboration (AHPC) in 2017, found that there is a growing necessity for effective self-care policy and reform. With self-care being linked to decreased risk over the long term of lifestyle-related diseases, as well as improving overall wellbeing. That it why it is vital that we engage in positive self-care habits on a regular basis, to improve not only longevity, but quality of life.
We recognise that it’s not always easy to implement these behaviours on your own, which is why we created this step-by-step framework; outlining ways to improve your own wellbeing through positive self-care.
14 Self Care Tips to Add to Your Routine
1. Get Outside.
Ditching the comfort of your home is a great way to improve mental and physical health. Similar to meditation, spending time outdoors benefits the brain. Other research suggests that being outside in nature also makes us feel more alive. Even living in an area with more green space (i.e. parks and gardens) is associated with greater life satisfaction and less mental distress. However, when getting outdoors in these uncertain times, please follow your local government's guidelines.
These days, it feels like everyone’s glued to a phone, laptop, or both at the same time. Deliberately taking a break from social media, e-mail, blogging, and so on, can help us recharge and give our brain the down-time it needs to operate at an optimal level.
3. Try an Outdoor Workout.
Consider taking your sweat session into nature where possible, but ensure that you are following the local government guidelines. Research shows that working out in the great outdoors boosts mental health, and may decrease tension, anger, and depression.
4. Pay it Forward.
By helping others, we actually help ourselves, too. Lending a hand not only boosts mental health, but may also lead to a longer life. Volunteering also positively affects self-confidence, self-esteem, and general wellbeing.
5. Breathe the right scents.
We know that breathing techniques can help us relax. But what we breathe might be just as important as how we breathe. While the benefits of aromatherapy are debated, research suggests that citrus scents—orange essential oil in particular—can help slash stress and anxiety, and getting a whiff of rosemary may boost memory.
6. Be Mindful.
Focusing on the present - without judging how we feel and what we think - can be both a liberating and healthy practice. Studies show that getting in-tune with ourselves through mindfulness decreases the burden of stress and depression, helps us see ourselves in a truer light, and may even help keep our minds from wandering.
Meditation is proof that it doesn’t take a ton of time to do a mind and body good. Just a few minutes of quieting your mind can help relieve stress. Other benefits include a boost in compassion and emotional stability, and some research suggests that meditating could even keep winter illness at bay. The best part? Its benefits continue even when we’re not meditating—consider it the gift (to yourself) that keeps on giving.
8. Turn up the Tunes.
If you’ve ever noticed that certain songs bring a smile to your face, you’re not alone. As it turns out, science has taken note, too. Research shows that listening to music makes already positive emotions even more intense, and upbeat music in particular can do great things for your mood.
9. Eat More Fruits and Veggies.
Adding more fruits and vegetables to our plates is a great way to practice self-care all throughout the day. Research shows that eating berries boosts brain health while noshing on peppers prevents Parkinson’s. And in case we needed another reason to load up on nature’s goodness, filling up on seven portions of fruits and veggies per day might make us happier.
10. Become a Bookworm.
Reading is cool. Plus, it’s actually really good for our health. Research suggests that reading on a regular basis keeps the mind sharp as it ages, and reading fiction in particular makes for more creativity and a more open mind. Cracking open a book may also improve sleep and make us more empathetic.
11. Laugh Out Loud.
There’s a reason people say laughter is “the best medicine”: Chuckling and giggling benefit our mental and physical health, especially when combined with exercise. Giving into a case of the funnies can improve our overall quality of life, while getting goofy with other people can help us connect with the people we laugh with and foster our relationships.
12. Get Enough Zzz’s.
There are tons of things that can sabotage our sleep, whether it’s putting in long work hours, a late night catching up with friends online, an unsettled baby or just catching up on your favourite tv-show. The problem is, skimping on shut-eye can hurt job productivity, make us choose to eat larger portions, and may lead to illness such as heart disease and diabetes. Prioritise snooze time for a happier, healthier you.
Some researchers believe that clutter can stress us out and bring us down. Why not use this time at home to sort through and purge disorganised papers, clothes, knickknacks, or whatever else is crowding our lives. This simple action may help us be more productive, cheerful, and calmer.
14. Indulge in a warm bath.
Set aside some time to experience the complete and total bliss of a warm and relaxing bath. It can soothe both the mind and muscles, improves sleep quality, and reducing stress.
By incorporating these tips into your routine, you give yourself not only short term relief of any challenges you might be facing, but, it will also form pathways which can be hugely beneficial for long-term social, emotional and physical wellbeing in the future.