There's a saying in the social services community that when you're in a plane crash, you have to put on your own oxygen mask before you can help others put on theirs. What this saying is referring to is the practice of self-care. Self-care means doing what you have to do to keep your physical and psychological health, emotional, and spiritual needs, and relationships in check, according to the University of Buffalo Self-Care Center. When you don't practice self care, you can suffer stress related health problems, work burnout and a creeping feeling of unhappiness or unbalance in your life.
Self care isn't just about paying attention to your health. There's an aspect of self care that involves feeding your spirit or cultivating your sense of happiness and well-being. Basically, you can't be all work and no play.This seems, to some people, to be selfish or a waste of time, but nothing could be farther from the truth. As you will see, self-care is vital to your health and makes you more productive. And Self-care doesn't just mean getting enough exercise or eating a more nutritious diet. It can even include little, fun things, like watching cat videos or simple, practical things, like turning off your phone during a meal.
1. Practice Saying No To Things That Stress You Out
Sometimes the most toxic events in our day come from situations we can avoid or habits we can stop. Take some time to know what makes you feel bad, then work on strategies to change these situations and behaviors. One strategy is to make an "absolute no list," according to Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. of Psych Central, with items on it such as "no keeping things you don't love or need" and "no rushing."
2. Get A Planner
Good time management skills are key to good self-care, according to the Amherst University Counseling Center. A calendar, a planner, or even a to-do list can work, depending on what you're most likely to use. This gives you a chance to take a realistic look at your days to see if you're over-scheduling yourself or if you're spending a lot of time on one dissatisfying area of your life. Writing things down can also get them out of your head, which reduces the stress of forgetting or being late to appointments.
3. Drink Just The Right Amount Of Coffee
Coffee drinkers know that there's a coveted, but often elusive sweet spot of caffeinated bliss. Too little coffee and you don't get your morning motivation boost. Too much and you're either bouncing off the walls or crashing hard (sometimes both). Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that the best way to keep yourself going throughout the day is to drink about two ounces (a quarter cup) every hour. This keeps you steady and stable.
4. Take A Minute To Breathe
Sometimes all you need to restore balance to your day is to take a moment and clear your head. In the above video, the National Institutes of Health social workers take you through some anxiety and stress-reducing breathing exercises that you can incorporate into your day.
5. Schedule Your Yearly Check-Up
The International Self-Care Foundation points out that a critical component of self-care and overall wellness is to know your health status and not avoid caring for conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol or chronic fatigue. It's also a good time to get your flu shot.
6. Limit Screen Time
Your brain needs rest just like the rest of your body, and one of the best ways to rest your brain is to unplug, according to Alexandra Duron of Greatist. Work breaks into your day where you can skip screen time, such as for an hour at both lunch and dinner time. It's best to skip screens at bedtime, too, according to the Mayo Clinic, because it disrupts your sleep patterns.
7. Look At Cat Videos
Who would have thought that all those collective hours spent looking at cute animal videos on the Internet were actually good for you? According to a report in the New York Times, researches discovered that people who look at pictures of cute animals experience boosts in confidence and productivity. Just, maybe, make sure to get your actual work done, too.
There are a bajillion of ways to practice self care. The trick is finding what works for you and making self-care a real priority.
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