With January well in hand and the sparkle of the new year starting to fade we can find ourselves falling back into old routines. For too many of us, that means a return to putting our needs last — even when we know taking the time and effort for self-care means being healthier, happier, and — ultimately, better able to tackle everything life sends our way.
In fact, a survey conducted by Shine, a tech-based wellness company that sends you a ‘daily text to help you thrive’, found 72 percent of women between 20 and 36 intend to prioritize mental health and self-care in 2018.
But, while we know it’s important — despite our best intentions — it’s easy to let competing needs get in the way of our own wellbeing — the same survey found 81 percent of women find ‘sticking with it’ their biggest struggle when it comes to setting goals or resolutions. The struggle, as long suspected, is real.
So, to help keep intentions on track here are six simple ideas for cultivating self-care habits in 2018.
1. Set Boundaries
Less about saying no and more about knowing where, how, and with who you want to spend your time, setting boundaries allows you to become more in tune with your wants and needs — helping ensure you’re giving time to the projects, people, and places it’s really needed, and that leave you happy and fulfilled. And when you spend less time doing things you’d rather not you have more time for things that fire you up.
2. Step Away From Social Media
Although social media has a multitude of benefits — access to information, connections to people, real-time reaction to events — the relentlessness of that access can be draining. Disconnecting from the constant stream of online information allows you to focus on what’s important.
You can even use online tools to improve your time on social platforms
- Use Twitter’s block and mute functions to shield yourself from specific people or topics you’d like to avoid. Whether blocking an abusive troll, limiting exposure to hashtags that might be triggering, or avoiding spoilers for your favourite show using available tools can make a big difference to your online experience.
- Unfollow people on Facebook — this allows you to remain ‘friends’ while hiding their posts from your timeline.
- Turn off push notifications on your phone.
3. Catch Those Zzz’s
Undeniably important for mental and physical health, getting a good sleep can be more elusive than we’d like. But a good night’s sleep is necessary in order to operate at our best. Without proper rest moods suffer, eating habits can slide, and ability to focus is compromised. If you’re having trouble getting the sleep you need try powering down your electronics at least an hour before you plan to go to bed. And if you’re tossing and turning night after night it’s easy to associate your bedroom with restlessness. Temporarily changing positions (sideways, inverse), or locations (couch, guest bedroom) of where you tuck in can make for a better night’s rest.
4. Get Outside
Being outside, in nature, does a body (and mind) good. Bearing witness to the beauty of nature opens us up to the joy and awesome inspiration of the natural world, and helps align our bodies to a more natural rhythm. Even if you don’t have time to hit the trails for a long hike you can still find benefits with a short neighbourhood walk, or a few minutes rest in your garden. If a demanding work schedule is really an issue try eating your lunch on a patio or in a park for a quick pick me up.
5. Get Physical
Not only is regular exercise good for our bodies, being physically active is one of the best things we can do for our minds. Getting sweaty on a regular basis can have a profound effect on depression, anxiety, and other disorders. It also relieves stress, boosts memory and mood, and helps with better sleep. People who exercise regularly often experience a sense of well-being, increased energy, relaxation, and overall positivity. And you don’t have to spend hours at the gym to reap the benefits. As little as 30 minutes of moderate exercise (like walking, biking, yoga, swimming, dancing) 5 times a week is enough to get the mental boost your looking for. If that seems daunting do not despair, even a few minutes of activity is better than none at all. The key is to commit, make it a habit, and increase efforts over time. The most important thing is to get moving.
6. Pamper Yourself
When all else fails, or when you just need an extra boost, it’s time to treat yourself to a little something special. For some people that something looks like a day at the spa or a dinner reservation at a favourite restaurant. For others getting pampered could be watching a movie, starting a new book, taking a bath, listening to music, laughing with friends, or making your favourite meal. What’s most important is picking something that brings you joy, if it lifts your mood it counts.
Robyn McNeil is a Nova Scotia-based freelance writer, bartender, and assistant editor of the Whole Family Happiness Project. She lives in Halifax, with her son and a penchant for really strong tea, yoga, hammocks, and hoppy beer.
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