Feeling the pressure? Our self-care guide has got you covered, with ten ways to improve mindfulness and wellbeing.
Image credit: Soak Society
It’s kind of a tough time to be an adult. For a great many people, the last two years have seen them become more engaged in politics than ever before — and oh my god, how exhausting that can be; every week brings a new story for us to unpack and figure out how we feel. Not to mention the post-recession economy means we’re working harder and longer just to make ends meet, ploughing in those overtime hours and working on a seemingly endless side hustle. All of which means it is more crucial than ever that we take proper care of our physical and mental health.
“Self care” gets thrown around a lot, and depending on who you talk to it can mean anything from “attending a yoga class” to “drinking an entire bottle of wine.” It’s important to remember, there’s a huge difference between self-care and self-indulgence. It can be incredibly tempting to lie in bed all day watching Netflix, declaring, “I need this!” But avoiding the outside world won’t necessarily make you happier or healthier. Here are ten ways to make time for yourself and get some perspective.
A proper sleep schedule
It sounds obvious, I know, but not getting the seven hours of sleep we need is a trap we all fall into at some point or another. Setting a bedtime and sticking to it can have serious benefits. If you struggle to nod off, try switching your phone to night mode earlier in the evening so it’s not beaming as much LED light into your eyeballs. A good stretch and half an hour of reading before bed can also do the trick.
As a longstanding slob with a knee-high floordrobe, this is something I personally struggle with. But whether it’s your desk at work or your bedroom at home, having a clean and tidy space has been proven to be relaxing, and can help you think more clearly.
It’s not exactly breaking news that exercise releases endorphins. If dragging yourself to the gym doesn’t exactly sound like fun, then give team sports a try — it’ll bring out your inner kid and help you move past any traumatic memories you have of being picked last for PE. (I swear I’m not projecting!)
Cook up a storm
Cooking dinner is a ritual which can help separate your working day from the evening. The chopping and stirring help me to relax, and I find preparing a tasty meal for myself nourishes me in more than just the literal way.
The 24 hour news cycle, and the influx of hot takes it provokes, can be overwhelming. So too can the instamodels and all of your friends from school, who invite you to compare your real life with the highlight reel that they post online. Sometimes, you just need to log off for a little while.
Go out into nature
Live in a city? Find your nearest park or head out into the countryside, and enjoy the greenery while it’s still summer! Getting away from noise of cars, breathing in fresh air and seeing the wildlife going about its business can be a great way to distance yourself from work-related stress.
People have been singing the praises of essential oils for years, and with good reason – spraying your pillow with lavender can help improve the quality of your sleep, while an aromatherapy burner in your living space can help slow your internal systems and restore a natural rhythm.
Stay on top of your diary
Set the goals you want to achieve, and then organise your month around them. Also make sure you have fun things in your calendar to look forward to — but don’t overbook yourself!
Doing anything with your hands, be it baking, gardening, or a DIY manicure, can help focus your mind. Physical, tactile tasks merge action and awareness, help you feel in control, and take your mind off other worries. Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi called this “flow” – and he believed it is key to personal happiness.
Take yourself on a date
Time for yourself can be spent with others, but it’s important to be able to enjoy your own company. Whether it’s taking yourself out for breakfast on Sunday morning, or sitting alone in a coffee shop for an hour with a book, solitude gives you a chance to build up your energy reserves.
And that energy is needed, because as well as taking care of our own mental health, we should also be looking out for the wellbeing of those around us. If you suspect someone you know is struggling, don’t be afraid to reach out.