Taking good care of yourself is more important than ever before and we all know it's not always easy to make time for. Many of us have stressful lives, demanding jobs and are constantly bombarded with technology. With the world slowly getting back to normal post-COVID quarantine, fitting in some time for self care is a must. Check out these self care tips to incorporate into your daily routine for a happier and healthier lifestyle. 1. Learn how to breathe. Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as belly breathing can be a great stress management strategy. This breathing technique helps your brain signal your body to lower your blood pressure, reduce stress hormone production and help your body relax. Start by lying down, with one hand on your belly and one on your chest. Practice taking deep breaths that only raise your belly and not your chest. Breathe in through your nose and out with your mouth, making your exhale a bit longer than your inhale. Try this 3-10 times and see how relaxed you feel! 2. Get regular exercise! Exercise has a host of benefits including better memory and brain function, supporting cardiovascular health, improving your sleep cycle, supporting muscle strength, endurance, insulin sensitivity, protecting against various chronic illnesses and reducing stress hormone production. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to incorporate any kind of movement into your life. This doesn't mean running marathons and hiring a personal trainer! Just a 15 minute walk is enough to positively impact your cardiovascular health! Start with something small and see where it takes you. 3. Meditate: Try to establish a mediation practice centered around a "safe space". This may be a place you felt safe as a child, a beach that always calms you or a place in a movie that puts you in a calm frame of mind. Returning to this space and deep belly breathing while meditating will help your body transition into a more "rest and digest" nervous system mode and help you rid yourself of these stressful feelings from being in a "fight or flight"state caused by the stressors of the day. Meditation promotes emotional health and self awareness in so many ways. It also has been shown in various studies to help reduce age-related memory loss, improve blood pressure, sleep and even help control pain in chronic pain syndromes. 4. Take a technology break. Taking a break from your phone or computer can not only improve your productivity and focus, but it can also help you with reducing your stress levels. It's easy to be overwhelmed with messages and emails, but allowing yourself some time to disconnect and setting some boundaries can be incredibly healthy. When it comes to social media specifically, studies have shown that many people experience decreased self worth due to the curated photos and posts in their feed that can lead to feelings of inadequacy. It's important to keep in mind that many times real life is completely different than what is being shown to the world. Taking a break from technology can also give you better connection in person by helping you put down the phone! 5. Practice gratitude. Yes, giving thanks can make you happier! Studies have shown that practicing gratitude can improve your psychological and physical health. People who regularly practice gratitude report less feelings of frustration, aggression, regret and resentment. As far as physical health is concerned, they report feeling healthier as well with fewer aches, pains and better sleep. Not sure how to start? Begin your day by jotting down 5 things you are grateful for every morning. Keep it simple! You can be grateful for how your dog came to you the first time you called his name or you can be grateful for the beautiful sunset you witnessed on the way home from work. This helps change your perspective and will help you to notice the little pleasures in life that pass you by. When you're having a challenging moment, reading your gratuity journal can help you to enjoy how beautiful life can really be!
All of the above self care strategies don't cost a thing and can significantly contribute to your quality of life and overall happiness. Pick one to incorporate today, it doesn't have to be difficult or complicated! Self care is really about checking in on yourself, listening and slowing down enough to hear the answers. Acknowledge your needs and take small action steps to provide those needs on a regular basis, because you're worth it!