Acts of self care are often seen as a superfluous activity — something that we do only when we have time and energy to spare. But what if I told you that self care is one of the most important things you can do for yourself, especially when you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed?
Self care is more than just taking a relaxing bath or reading your favorite book. It’s an act of self love, an acknowledgment that you are worth taking care of — in the same way you’d care for a loved one. And in today’s busy world, it’s more important than ever to carve out some “me time” in your schedule.
What are acts of self care?
Acts of self care can vary from person to person, but the key is to choose activities for your daily routine that make you feel comfortable, relaxed, and recharged. Many of them fall under the 7 pillars of self care. For many of us, taking a nice, long bath or having a dance party may be out of reach — especially when we’re already running out of energy. But there are other acts of self care that don’t require as much time or effort — like watching the sun rise, or writing a gratitude list.
To help you find some great self care activities, I’ve shared a few of my favorite acts of self care below.
Getting enough sleep is essential for both our physical and mental health. It plays a vital part of preventing burnout and keeping a positive headspace, as well as keeping you healthy. In that case, acts of self care centered on sleep could look like:
- Meditating before sleep using a long meditation video, so you can drift to sleep
- Making use of a comfortable, quality sleep mask, if light bothers you
- Making sure you go to bed with enough time to get a full night’s rest
- Moving your body or taking part in physical activity so you feel tired before sleep
- Drinking teas that promote sleep before bed
- Lighting up a candle with a familiar scent that you enjoy, which is proved to lower your stress levels, an hour or two before bed. Make sure to snuff it out before falling asleep, though
Eating healthy meals can provide your body with the nutrients it needs to function properly. Depending on your body, different “diets” (or simply eating habits) will have different effects. And don’t forget to take time out for snacks – they’re more important than you’d think. If you want to practice some acts of self care through food, you could try:
- Keeping some of your favorite snacks in your home, but far from view. When you decide to eat a few, take the time to enjoy your snack and taste the amazing flavors
- If you enjoy cooking, it could also be considered self care to spend a few hours making delicious, nourishing foods for your week
- Self-care doesn’t necessarily mean making the healthiest food choices. If you enjoy a good dessert, by all means, go for it! The important thing is to slow down and savor it
- While the word “diet” often rhymes with “miserable”, it could be worth it to try out different diets to see if one of them works better with your body. That often manifests by giving you a lot more energy than usual
Making time for yourself is not only an important act of self care, it is the very basis on which self-care can work. If you look back at the precious self-care tips, you’ll see that all of these things require some extra time. Still, here are some time-centric acts of self care tips:
- Carving out some time to spend doing something you love (like hiking, painting, taking a bubble bath, reading positive affirmations, or simply watching a tv show you enjoy!)
- Seeing time as something you can take for yourself is important. It doesn’t have to be hours, either, but a spa day every now and then can work wonders
- Some meditation, at any time during your day, helps you re-center yourself and your emotions. You could even listen to a guided meditation podcast
- Taking the time to give yourself breaks throughout the day will help your brain feel less overloaded
Make sure to listen to yourself
As the day progresses, it is essential to be mindful of how your body feels and your overall wellness. Self-awareness breeds effective self care — never forget that!
The human body has a tendency to tense up by itself. That is why meditation videos or audios will take the time to make you unclench your jaw, relax your shoulders, and even relax your forehead! However, we don’t meditate enough in the day for it to be beneficial enough. I encourage you to take as little as two minutes during your day to stretch a bit, every hour or so. Here’s what I like to do for some body-focused acts of self care:
- If I am sitting at a desk, I want to start by correcting my sitting position (it is always wrong, somehow!)
- Stretch out the carpal tunnels and rotate my wrists, especially if I was working at a computer
- Unclench my jaw and move the lower mandible around a bit
- Bring both my arms up and join hands over my head, and stretch as high as I can to loosen my spine
- If I can leave the desk, taking a short walk to get a drink or some fresh air will be helpful to my entire body and mind
- Try some deep breathing
- Take a hot shower or a self care bath to feel more relaxed
So why is self care so important?
Self care is important because it allows you to take a step back from your everyday life and focus on yourself and your wellbeing. When you’re taking care of yourself, you’re able to relax and recharge, which will make you more productive in the long run. It is also important because it helps you deal with stress and anxiety, which can have negative impacts on your health if left untreated.
Finally, self care is an important way to show yourself love and compassion, which can boost your confidence and mood. Taking care of yourself, mind and body, sends a message to yourself that you appreciate your body’s efforts and your brain’s hard work, and that you are rewarding them with some much-needed rest and pampering. Your body is tired — just because it CAN keep going, doesn’t mean it should, not without a break. That’s why acts of self care are so important.
Where do I even start with these forms of self care?
It can be overwhelming to see all of these self care tips and tricks when you’re not used to doing any of it, and I know how that feels! The simple approach would be to choose one or two self-care tips from the above lists; find the ones that are most interesting to you, or those that you think will fit best in your daily schedule.
If you’re like me, you may need to schedule a time to do these things, or you will forget about them. And that’s okay! There is nothing wrong with scheduling self care ideas in ahead of time; in fact, some self care activities may require a bit of planning ahead, if only to buy the necessary accessories. Many don’t take a lot of time though, so you can embrace self care every day.
One thing I would suggest: integrate the stretching routine during your work time. You probably work a lot, like most of us do; taking two minutes for a nice stretch every few hours will hopefully be fairly easy to get used to! You could even set up an alarm reminder for it!
Level up your self care practices
In the end, what matters is that you take care of yourself. There is no one-size-fits-all, so if nothing piques your interest in what I listed, don’t fret. There are plenty more small acts of self care out there — take a look at my list of 100 things that make me happy for even more ideas.