Even as the comforts and luxuries of everyday living are more now than ever before, an increasing number of people are talking about discontent, stress and loneliness. Caught in a whirlwind of personal commitments and unrelenting deadlines, what often gets relegated to the backburner of our priorities is our own self.
A self-care routine is important because stressors may change form and context but will never go out of your life. And the sooner we accept this reality and gear ourselves up to face it, the better we will be. Self-care is not a luxury, it is a priority if you do not want to be overwhelmed by life, feel unhappy or exhausted.
1) Give your body some time
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Self-care begins with looking after our physical well-being. Even in the midst of our pressures, taking out time for physical activity, or preferably playing a sport, can do wonders for physical and mental fitness. Simple steps like eating regular meals, staying hydrated, feeling the breeze on your face and ensuring 6 – 9 hours of sleep every night go a long way as well. Stay away from substances – they impact our mood and our health.
2) Plug off from time to time
We can’t talk about self-care without talking about how technology has impacted our day-to-day life. What started out as a way to boost efficiency and ease our lives has now become one of our biggest sources of stress. We find it difficult to switch off from our gadgets, whether it’s for work or for rejuvenation. Take some time away from gadgets to recharge your own self. Stay away from screens before bed and engage in activities in the real, offline space. You will sleep better.
3) Rest and Relaxation
Beyond taking breaks from gadgets, some R & R is important, not just to enhance self-care but also to improve productivity. Take a short break after every 45 minutes of work. At the same time, balance work responsibilities in a manner that allows for some down time, to allow us to come back stronger and sustain our efforts.
4) Get creative
As adults, recreational activities don’t always find space in our busy schedules. Asking people what they do for fun or what their hobbies are is met with a confused silence. Creative pursuits are a great way to relax, switch off from the stressors around us and express ourselves freely. Engage in artistic activities like painting, music or dance as a way to rejuvenate. Learning other skills, not necessarily directly related to your work, that you feel can enhance your overall quality of life can also be helpful.
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5) Learn to say thank you
How we perceive the world can also have an impact on our well-being. Shifting perspectives to a positive, growth-oriented mindset helps cope with the challenges we are confronted with. Practising gratitude is one such way of intentionally focussing on the positives of any situation.
6) Build a support system
When we’re feeling stressed out or overwhelmed with our responsibilities, we tend to withdraw from the people who matter the most – our family and friends. We may feel that we don’t have time or the energy to make plans, that others won’t understand us, or that we don’t want to burden anyone else with our worries. But these are precisely the times when reaching out to our social support system matters most. The self exists in relation to others, and investing in relationships is perhaps the most crucial element of self-care. Spend quality time with friends and family and strive to create a social support structure even at work. Extend a hand whenever you can, and at the same time, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Ask yourself if you are getting enough face-to-face time with your friends and what are you doing to nurture your relationships with friends and family? Finally be kind to yourself and be forgiving.