You know you need more self-care in your life, but how can you find the time? With a family to raise, a house to keep and career to chase, there’s not a lot of time, money or energy left for self-care.
If that’s what runs through your mind when you hear “self-care,” it’s time to change the way you think about the practice. Self-care isn’t a luxury; it’s an essential component of a healthy life. It helps you manage stress, and as a parent, that’s something you have plenty of. It also keeps you centered and feeling positive about your life. When you don’t practice self-care, you can become overwhelmed by stress, get distracted from your goals, and stop feeling like yourself. As a result, your mental health suffers.
If you want to protect your emotional and mental health, you need to make space for self-care in your life. These are five ways you can start.
1. Find Time to Recharge
Always busy with no time to rest isn’t a healthy way to live. A healthy life requires balance between work and relaxation. If you struggle to find time to relax, follow Nivea’s advice and schedule it. Prevent interruptions by arranging for the kids to be busy during that time, whether that means waking up early or asking your partner to supervise.
2. Clear the Clutter in Your Home
A cluttered home is like a constant visual to-do list that you can’t escape. Stop living in an environment that stresses you out by purging the excess from your home. If you can’t bear to throw things out but can’t find adequate space to store them in your home, don’t stop there. Consider boxing up the items and placing them in a nearby storage unit. This won’t cost you an arm and a leg, and the payoffs far outweigh the cost. Then, take it one step further: if after a few months, you can’t remember what’s in there, get rid of it for good. Now is also the perfect time to give your home a deep cleaning.
3. Make Meaningful Connections
Friendships often slip away as we grow older and busier with family and career. However, losing close relationships with others is one of the worst things for your mental health. No matter your age, social connection is an important source of emotional support, meaning and purpose in life, and it’s the quality of the connection, not just the quantity, that matters. If there are unhealthy relationships in your life, you also need to learn how to set boundaries and say no.
4. Learn How to Shut Down Stress
Do you let stress build up inside of you until it’s bubbling just under the surface? When you feel stress on the rise, don’t ignore it. Instead, acknowledge it, and take action to counter it. Getting active, meditating, and engaging in hobbies are effective ways to manage stress throughout the week. If you have the best of intentions but never seem to be able to follow through on “me time,” consider joining a gym and scheduling weekly workouts.
There are also things you can do to shut down stress in the moment, including stepping outside for a quick walk, using scents to lift your mood, and breathing mindfully through meditation. “Meditation” is a word that often intimidates beginners to the practice, but the truth is it’s an easy and highly beneficial experience. Optimize a room or corner of your home for promoting a sense of calm by clearing it of clutter, removing television sets and other distracting elements, and adding soft lighting. Then, find a guided practice that walks you through how to focus on your breathing, how you feel, and what you’re grateful for.
Scientists have discovered evidence that our mood is related to the health of our gut, so another way to reduce stress is to eat a gut-healthy diet. You can do this by eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut and yogurt and by taking a probiotic every day.
5. Sleep Better
Getting enough sleep is such a simple and effective way to improve your life, and yet one-third of adults don’t, according to Live Science. If you’re one of them, start fixing your sleeping habits. Go to bed at the same time each night, give yourself enough time for eight to nine hours of sleep, and avoid anything stimulating before bedtime – that includes your phone and TV.
When you’re mentally healthy, you’re more capable of being the parent, partner and person you want to be, so why you do you keep prioritizing everything else over self-care? If you’re ready to improve your mental health, stop treating self-care like it’s optional, and make it a priority.
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