The term “self-care” often makes people think of indulgent bubble baths and scented candles. However, the phrase actually stems from the mental health field, referring to everyday disciplines that are vital to our health and wellbeing. The trouble is, when life gets stressful, self-care is the first thing to go out of the window, leading to further stress and burnout down the line.
Any doctor will tell you that basic acts of self-care like getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising aren’t just important, they’re essential; but for those struggling with mental health issues or chronic illnesses, achieving those tasks can be easier said than done. If you have limited time or energy for self-care, here are five small acts to focus on.
Brushing Your Teeth
We all know that brushing our teeth twice a day prevents cavities and decay, but to someone with a physical or mental health condition, simply getting from the bed to the bathroom can be a challenge. Keeping your mouth in good shape prevents gum disease and bacterial infection, but it will also make you feel better about yourself. If dull, stained teeth are bringing you down, you could treat yourself to a pearly smile with an at home teeth whitening kit.
Every cell and tissue in your body requires water to function, so if you’re feeling sluggish and fatigued then dehydration could be to blame. You should aim to drink 6-8 tall glasses of water per day. If getting out of bed is an issue, keep a large jug of water at your bedside. Alternatively, if you’re too busy to stay hydrated, carry a handy flask with you at all times and set reminders on your phone so you remember to drink.
Making Your Bed
The simple act of making your bed each morning will dramatically improve your productivity throughout the day. What’s more, your environment has a direct impact on your mood and stress levels, so creating a calmer, more relaxing space for your downtime is essential for your mental health.
Taking Time Out
Modern life can hectic, so it’s important to take time out whenever you can. You don’t have to meditate for an hour each morning to reap the benefits of some alone time. Do a ten-minute mindfulness exercise at your desk, or sneak away during your lunch hour to read a book somewhere cozy. Switching off from the constant demands of work, home life, and technology will help reduce your stress levels and keep your moods balanced.
Eating Healthy Food
When times get tough, your diet is usually the first thing to slide. However, making yourself healthy meals each day will improve your physical health, give you more energy, and prevent blood sugar crashes that can cause your mood to dip. If you don’t have time to cook after work (or you don’t feel physically able) set aside time to cook up a batch meal that you can reheat throughout the week.
Photo by Katie Smith