I believe that self-care is an incredibly important aspect of our lives, but it’s not a topic that receives much attention. So why is it so important, and how can we practice self-care in our daily lives?
Prioritizing self-care is about giving ourselves time and space that prioritize our well-being and allow us to grow as individuals. Essentially, self-care involves setting aside time to take care of an area of your life, much like brushing your teeth.
But no, it’s not just about hygiene; it extends far beyond that.
3 Areas of Self-Care
There are many different areas of self-care, but we’ll focus on three that provide a good insight into what it’s about and how we can implement it in our daily lives.
The most common reason for chronic stress or burnout is not implementing enough recovery in your daily life. You can avoid this by integrating more self-care into your life.
Taking Care of Your Body
We all know it’s important to take care of our bodies, such as eating healthy and exercising. But it’s actually broader than that.
As I mentioned earlier, hygiene is a great example. When we take care of our hygiene, we feel fresher.
Sleep, I would say, is the most important area when it comes to the body. Poor or insufficient sleep has a significantly negative impact on us.
What happens when we don’t get enough sleep?
We all have different sleep needs, and only you can determine how much sleep you require. Typically, it should be around 7-9 hours.
Keep in mind that our sleep needs vary throughout different stages of life, and if you can learn to listen to your body and adjust when needed, you will live a much better life.
Sleep has a significant impact on our lives. Despite it seeming like we’re just lying down and hallucinating for 8 hours, a lot is happening in our bodies.
- Much of our memory consolidation and learning processing occurs while we sleep. You can think of it as performing a “disk cleanup” on your hard drive or doing a small system update every day.
- Sleep also directly affects our immune system. Lack of sleep can increase the stress hormone cortisol, which causes inflammation. Inflammation is a natural part of the immune response but does more harm than good when it becomes excessive or remains elevated for a prolonged period.
- Your autonomic nervous system (ANS) also needs sleep. During the day and periods of stress, your sympathetic nervous system is active. The sympathetic nervous system stimulates the hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline, raising your blood pressure and heart rate.
- When you sleep or rest, your parasympathetic nervous system kicks in and, among other things, stimulates the vagus nerve, which extends from the brain to vital organs. The vagus nerve helps communicate to the body that the situation is clear. You can read more on the ANS at VeryWellMind.com
So how do we rest?
Speaking of stress and the autonomic nervous system, taking breaks and managing stress are important parts of everyday life. We don’t want our parasympathetic nervous system to only work during the night.
The parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the “rest-and-digest” system, stimulates several functions related to digestion and nutrient absorption when you are resting. So, how do we rest?
Take breaks! Breaks are something I personally underestimated. By taking regular breaks, you allow yourself to recover, and you’ll likely have better focus when you return to your tasks.
Tip! Interrupt your work in the middle of a sentence or a task, and you'll get back into the flow when you return. NOTE!! Only do this if it's possible with your job, please don't leave a customer at the cash register who was just about to pay.
Before we look at emotional recovery, go through this list of relaxation techniques you can try:
- Do or watch something fun that makes you laugh.
- Start meditation practice
- Practice mindfulness, e.g., name three things you see, hear, touch, or smell.
- Listen to music.
- Take a walk, preferably in nature.
Why should we care about emotional self-care, and how do we do it?
When you take care of your emotions, you can develop a better understanding of yourself and how you function. You become better at navigating your emotions and conflicts.
When you have an understanding of your emotions, you make better choices that align with who you are. You grow as a person and can overcome new challenging experiences.
Our emotions help us navigate our surroundings and communicate with each other. So how do we take care of them?
The simplest thing you can do is to name your emotions, pause, and reflect on what you’re feeling. You don’t need to analyze and find out why you feel a certain way, etc. Just think, “I’m feeling stress in my stomach right now.”
Allow yourself to express your emotions in a constructive way. You can write in a journal, talk to family and friends, or connect with a therapist or psychologist.
It’s also good to find techniques to manage your emotions, such as engaging in hobbies, exercising, journaling, or practicing breathing exercises.
Experiment and do what feels best for you. But what’s the difference between the mental and emotional?
The mental aspect relates more to your cognitive functions, such as memory and concentration. This area is heavily affected by chronic stress.
To avoid this, we need to rest. No, not a nap. We need mental rest. It could involve taking a walk in nature or meditating.
Take a break from anything that requires mental effort and try to practice mindfulness.
This can be challenging in today’s society, where technology and social media are everywhere, constantly overwhelming us with entertainment and information.
We’re so used to being overstimulated that it can feel uncomfortable or strange to truly disconnect and not be glued to our phones.
I would argue that if you feel like you have to watch or listen to something while eating or going for a walk, you really need to disconnect. Remove all unnecessary apps for a period that you impulsively open when you reach for your phone.
Learning about thought patterns and implementing positive ones can also be very effective. This is something you can explore on your own or work on with a psychologist, who often uses cognitive-behavioral therapy in their treatments.
You can implement positive thought patterns by practicing gratitude. Write a list or name 3-10 things every morning that you’re grateful for. That way, you start the day with a positive mindset!
3 Things You Can Do Today
Many aspects overlap to some extent, proving that a few positive implementations in your daily life can have a positive impact in many areas of your life.
The three things you can implement today to have a significant positive impact on your life are:
- Sleep for 7-8 hours.
- Take breaks during the day; you have the time, I promise!
- Keep a journal.
By prioritizing self-care in these three areas – the body, emotions, and mind – we can create a balanced and healthy lifestyle. I hope this post was helpful and informative for you. Thank you for reading!
If you have any additional tips that can help others, it would be great if you could share them in the comments!
I’m the lady behind Restful Moments. Having experienced burnout firsthand, I embarked on a journey to redefine self-care, blending scientific insights with practical advice for the modern woman. Join our supportive community as we explore mindset, mindfulness, healthy habits, and the science behind stress management.