By definition, Self-Care is what we do for ourselves to maintain physical and mental health and to prevent illness. It is a broad concept encompassing hygiene, nutrition, lifestyle and environmental factors. It’s about maintaining a balanced mind and body, which can be easy to neglect when dealing with the pressures of life.
I have learned how some simple acts of Self-Care can help make me feel well, relaxed and focused – particularly in times of stress. I wanted to share some of these actions that can positively contribute to overall health and wellness. Show some love and be kind to yourself with these 10 Acts of Self-Care:
1. Take a walk
Walking is a simple way to relieve stress. Walking helps to improve cardiovascular fitness and also burns calories to contribute towards healthy weight. Walking outside can help to relax the mind and process thoughts and emotions. Personally I like walking in quiet places, surrounded by trees or open spaces. This often helps me feel calmer, happier and more grounded. A 30 – 60 minute walk can alleviate stress and also helps the body to produce feel-good chemical endorphins.
2. A long soak
Bathing in water is a great way to feel fresh and revitalised. Bathing can improve heart health, calm the nervous system, and provide benefits for bones, joints and muscles. Warm waters benefit the muscles and cooler waters soothe nerves. The sounds and feelings of water can alter the brain’s wave patterns, helping to produce a state of relaxation. For some hydro self-care try floating in a pool, take a long hot shower or bath, soak your feet in cool water or gently swim outdoors. Even sitting by water can relax the body and mind. Personally one of my favourite things to do is take a long, hot bath and increase the therapeutic qualities by adding foams and oils.
3. Love music
I once had a t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan ‘Music saved my life’ and, although it was a bold fashion choice, the statement resonated with me. In times of sadness, stress or worry music can provide great escapism and pain relief. Listening to music that complements our feelings can help us to process emotions. Music is proven to elevate mood, strengthen memory, reduce stress and aid performance in physical activities. Personally I like listening to uplifting, feel-good music to help me relax, think and focus. Moving or dancing to music has fitness benefits and can make the brain produce happy chemicals. Music is powerful and can be enjoyed in many ways.
4. Rub it out
Massage is manipulation of the bodies soft tissues. Massage therapy is an incredible way to release tension from the body. It can relieve stress and depression and improve suppleness and quality of life. Massage can also provide short-term relief from pain caused by muscular problems or serious illnesses. It’s about relaxing the body and alleviating physical strains. There are lots of devices available for massage relief experiences at home and there are self-massage tips on YouTube. I have effectively used massage with muscle injuries and also practice stretching or yoga to help achieve similar muscular tissue release.
5. Practice pampering
The global beauty industry is valued at around $500 billion US dollars. A pampering session really helps people feel good about themselves! Pampering, beauty and grooming provide distraction from worries whilst showing our appearance some attention. Whether it be a beauty treatment, alternative therapy, dental work or a simple hair-cut – some pampering goes a long way in making us feel better. Doing something physically caring for personal appearance is good for hygiene, helps us to feel confident and switch-off from any cares. My favourites are having a fresh hair-cut and moisturising.
6. Cook up a storm
Cooking is a great way to distract the mind from problems, and replenish the body with wholesome food. Our bodies need good nutrition and will respond well when given meals that are home-made, fresh and healthy. As an act of self-care I like to give myself a challenge in the kitchen by attempting to make a favourite dish that I would normally buy out. Following recipe instructions is a good way to focus on something different, and when the dish is a success it provides a great confidence boost. Cooking for others is a nice way to share your culinary creations socially.
7. Turn the pages
Reading is a great form of escapism and helps people to focus, learn and grow. Reading involves a complex network of circuits in the brain and the more we read the stronger they become. Research and brain-scans show that the brain literally lights up with activity when we are reading. Reading helps to build vocabulary, exercise imagination, increase ability to empathize and prevent age-related cognitive decline. It’s also a great stress-buster and can help with rest. Personally I like to put down the tech, ignore the notifications on my phone and get lost in an old-school book. There is something soothing about the smell of the paper and the physical turning of pages.
8. Sense aromas
Aromas and different smells can invigorate the senses, boost mood and help to relieve anxiety. Some aromas are known to aid with breathing difficulties, whilst others promote deep sleep. I love nice smells and have found that the presence of pleasant aromas can have calming effects. I like to experiment with incense, scented candles, essential oils, muscle soaks and colognes at home. Lavender scents help with sleep and incense can create a tranquil atmosphere to unwind.
9. Work it
Regular exercise is the key to maintaining physical health and weight. Exercise burns fat and sweat releases unhealthy toxins from the body. Exercise is great for the mind too as it helps to relieve depression, decrease stress and improve sleep. Regular exercise is shown to boost general performance, strengthening the body as well as memory and intelligence. Exercise is one of the ultimate acts of self-care because it will help to keep your brain, body and vital organs functioning well, and can even expand life expectancy. Personally I try to exercise 3 – 4 times each week to stay in health. My favourite exercises are weight-training, running, hiking and swimming,
10. Sun basking
I have always loved taking the sun and feel good after soaking some rays. Exposure to the sun has its health benefits. The sun helps the body to produce Vitamin D which strengthens bones and brain function. Research has shown that sunlight can stimulate growth in the parts of the brain that regulate memory function. Moderate sun exposure also increases levels of natural antidepressants in the brain to alleviate seasonal and mild depression. Sunlight can also promote healing of skin complaints such as acne, eczema and psoriasis. However over exposure to the sun can cause adverse problems, so always sunbathe in moderation and protect the skin with a high SPF sunscreen.
Sometimes we need to pause and take stock of our health. Think about our body, and what it is doing for us, and what we can do to make it thrive. Exercising some of these Acts of Self-Care can relieve stress, improve well-being, sustain good hygiene and help to shape healthy behaviours and environments. It’s important to regularly set aside some ‘me-time’ and be kind to yourself. Do you already practice any of these 10 Acts of Self-Care? Tell us about your favourites in the comments.