We all need a break sometimes. A little escape from our everyday lives to help us focus and re-center our mind and body. Unfortunately, we underestimate the power of self-care but, it helps us tremendously. Self-care has nothing to do with routine maintenance like brushing your teeth, showering, and shaving. It’s about checking in with yourself. It’s making the conscious decision to address whatever issues you may be experiencing whether it’s sadness, exhaustion, or chronic pain.

As a psychologist, I often recommend self-care because it’s an effective coping mechanism for life’s stresses. Unfortunately, some people don’t have a clear definition of what self-care is and is not. The first thing to remember is that self-care is intentional. It’s about having no expectations of yourself for the day. To fill your day with positivity, affirmations, and getting yourself back on track! Let’s discuss a few ways to do that, shall we?

Get more sleep

Studies show that we need 7 to 9 hours of sleep to function well throughout the day. We need sleep to re-energize our bodies and repair damages that occur throughout the day. Did you know sleep repairs tissues in your heart and arteries? Without proper rest, you increase your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and weight gain. So, in short, sleep saves lives.

Sleep can also improve your mood and, relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression. So, the next time you’re feeling upset, rest. The less sleep you get, the more likely you are to be irritated. Poor sleep may also increase your chances of developing a mood disorder.

Eat well and often

We all know food fuels our bodies but, you have to have the right kind of fuel. For example, you should drink at least 8 cups of water a day. However, it may sound like a lot to some people. So, my suggestion is to carry a small water bottle with you. You’re more likely to sip on the water periodically if you have some readily available.

Also, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. It’s easier than you think! First, start incorporating them into your meals. Try trading the french fries for green beans or a cookie for an apple. Simple changes like these will increase the number of daily nutrients you receive. Potassium, folic acid, vitamins A and C, you want these in your life!

Got a thought? Write it down!

Every now and again, we need to find healthy ways to express our emotions. One of the best ways is to keep a journal. Whenever we have a bad day, it’s easy to be short with our family or friends; we like to close off and ignore our feelings but, why not explore them? Journaling is a healthy alternative to reckless or harmful behavior.

When you write about your feelings, you are laying out the problem as a whole. Ultimately, it helps us reach solutions we wouldn’t have thought of in our heads. It helps us find patterns in our behavior and, make appropriate changes. So, the next time you have an issue, instead of getting angry, get writing.

Talk it out

We all need a safe place to express our emotions. Some of us find it in our friends, others in medical professionals. Whatever your choice, it’s always good to discuss how you feel. When we bring our issues to another person, they can give us a perspective we hadn’t noticed before. It may even help you understand someone better like a parent or a partner.

However, it’s a double-edged sword. Friends and family have a bias towards you. So, if your problem is with a peer or coworker, they might not be the best person to help you. Sometimes, you need an unbiased third-party like a counselor to help you. They can help guide you to the solution you want while keeping your goals realistic.

Self-care looks different for everyone. I think the best advice I could give is, do you. People will offer suggestions and, feel free to try them but, the decision is yours. Whether it’s a relaxing spa day or, a counseling session, self-care is here for you. You just have to be willing to do it!

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