“Self-care” has become a bit of a buzzword on social media. But here’s the thing: True self-care goes so much deeper than splurging on avocado toast at brunch and treating yourself to a hydrating sheet mask every once in a while.
Self-care means focusing on your health and wellbeing. This includes practicing good hygiene, eating healthy and nutritious meals, participating in physical activity, seeking professional help, and more.
In need of a self-care routine of your own? Here are six simple ways to take better care of yourself this season.
Research has linked social isolation and loneliness to higher risks for several mental and physical conditions, including depression, anxiety, cognitive decline, high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, and in some cases, death. Fortunately, there are many ways to connect with others and combat loneliness.
Here are a few examples of things you can do to cope with loneliness:
- Smile. According to University of California researchers, smiling more may help to combat loneliness. What’s more? Smiling more, even in the mirror, can help you feel calm and centered.
- Adopt a pet. Studies show that pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression when compared to people without pets. Pets also help to decrease anxiety and stress while increasing serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin levels—all of which help keep you happy, calm, and relaxed.
- Call up a friend. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), talking to friends, loved ones, and neighbors about your feelings and concerns can relieve stress. If you’re unable to call a friend or loved one, there are several support lines you can contact, including the Institute on Aging Friendship Line (1-800-971-0016) and the Samaritans Helpline (1-877-870-4673).
Believe it or not, journaling is one of the best ways to relieve stress and process your emotions. According to one 2018 research review, writing about your inner thoughts and feelings may also help lower your blood pressure and boost your mood. Additionally, journaling can help improve your memory and strengthen your immune system!
Mindful eating is a mindfulness exercise in which you slow down and pay full attention to the food ou’re putting into your body. In addition to aiding digestion, mindful eating encourages you to focus on how food makes you feel, which often leads to healthier and more nutritious food choices.
Exercising regularly can help you both mentally and physically. Exercise has the power to improve your mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and reduce the risk of disease, among other benefits. According to the CDC, getting at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke—two leading causes of death in the U.S.
Can’t get to the gym? Here are a few ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine:
- Take the stairs. Walking up the stairs instead of using the elevator is one way to add a bit of cardio to your day. Plus, it’ll save you a bit of time!
- Go for a walk. According to the Mayo Clinic, walking can help strengthen your immune system, prevent or manage certain conditions, including high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, and increase your energy levels.
- Clean your home. Did you know you can get a full-body workout by cleaning your home? In fact, you can burn up to 129 calories by washing the dishes!
Make sleep a priority.
Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to severe and long-term health problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure, or stroke. Poor sleeping habits can also cause low libido, depression, and reduced immune system function. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society (AASM), adults between 18 and 60 years old should get at least seven hours of sleep each night.
Yoga offers numerous mental and physical benefits, including a healthier heart, improved mobility and flexibility, and increased blood flow. Additionally, yoga may be able to reduce inflammation—which is the catalyst for many conditions, including Chron’s disease, diabetes, and endometriosis. According to one study conducted by researchers at Ohio State University, individuals who routinely practice yoga have lower amounts of interleukin-6 or IL-6, a cytokine that causes inflammation, in their blood.
Remember, there are infinite ways in which you can practice self-care. The above ideas are just a starting point.