52 Ways To Practice Self-Care For Better Emotional Health
After a month – or longer– of battering your mind and body you could resolve to give up drinking, embrace Veganuary and workout every day until you shed your winter coat. But according to research by University of Bristol 88 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions give-up on giving up.
This year, ditch the negatives and make a positive change: a pact of self-care. Take time to recognise your needs and how you will prioritise them.
Being selfish this is not, it’s being self-aware.
But what is self-care?
Firstly, it is the zeitgeisty phrase that’s going nowhere. It’s also a practice recognised by everyone from ancient Greeks to GPs. To Mind, the charity for better mental health, self-care is the techniques and lifestyle changes that better help you manage the symptoms of anxiety, depression and more. To the millions already using the hashtag it’s bubble baths, Five-Minute journals and turmeric lattes.
Aside from showering, sleeping and ensuring you nourish your body with what it needs self-care can be anything and everything. Some days this might be getting the dishes done – do look up #boringselfcare for a comforting use of social media– on others, it’s learning to say no or giving yourself recognition for doing your best.
As we enter into 2018 it’s time to prioritise your wellbeing without breaking the bank. Keep reading for 52 ways you can self-initiate self-care – that’s one a week starting today.
1. Play therapy
Gearing up for a big year? “Don’t forget to plan playtime,” says Cat Meffan, YouTuber and yoga teacher. And she’s right: play and exploration trigger the secretion of BDNF, a substance that’s essential for the growth and maintenance of brain cells. This year, set yourself up for success by allowing your silly time. “We need to connect with our ‘inner child’ throughout our adult years so surround yourself with people who make you laugh and able to see the funny side of things,” shares Meffan. “It’s also something you can bring in to your fitness – rather than going to the gym choose a hobby you loved as a teen, or get involved in team sports. I now do bouldering which I love. I feel like a kid in the park!”
2. Schedule breaks into your diary
A study by Project Time Off detailed the detrimental health effects of not taking time off. In fact, adding just more holiday day to your allowance increases how positive you feel. Exhaust your holiday allowance and still feel downbeat? Seek daily self-care inspiration from Chloe Brotheridge, anxiety expert atand author of The Anxiety Solution: “Schedule your self-care as you would your work to ensure it doesn’t get forgotten about. Diarise that mid-morning stretch, lunch break away from your computer, an afternoon walk or simply a reminder to take some deep breaths and come back to the present. If it’s in the diary, it’s way more likely to happen and small moments of self-care make all the difference.”
3. Cook once, eat four times
If you follow Melissa Hemsley you’ll know that friends are the best seasoning to all her dishes. This year, follow her lead and make meal prep less arduous and more amorous. “Find a buddy and once a fortnight cook a meal in the biggest pot you have,” suggests Hemsley. “When done, share half with your friend to freeze down. When they do it too you’ll have four amazing home cooked meals a month to eat as you please. Before you know it, you’ll have a freezer stocked like a deli and wouldn’t have spent hours slaving over the stove in solitary confinement.” Need recipe inspiration? Find it in Hemsley’s new book Eat Happy: 30-minute Feel Good Food, out this month.
You look at your phone up to 84 times a day so put the screen time to good use. Instagram will still be there after.
Despite common beliefs meditation doesn’t have to be done on a cushion. Plug yourself in next time you’re on the loo. Calm app offers free guided meditation sessions starting at 3 minutes.
Paying for apps might go against your beliefs, but £4.99 for daily zen? Forgo two days of coffee for meditation tailored to your emotions.
6. Sleep Easily Meditations
This free app aims to better your sleep hygiene as nothing derails a good day like a rough night sleep.
7. Acupressure: Heal Yourself
Skip the hefty bill and have a go at using pressure points to relieve anxiety and stress. A complete novice? Not to fear, the app comes with diagrams and helpful descriptions.
Looking after your body helps care for your brain. A new study by the University of Ontario found that even short bursts of exercise improve focus, while a second paper discovered a second major benefit: better memory. If you spent 2017 trying to locate your missing hair bands or struggling with spreadsheets, try moving more as self-care this season.
8. Charity Miles
The Charity Miles App donates money for every mile you run, jog or bike, which given that altruism has been shown to release endorphins too, you could double your exercise high. On your marks. Set. Fundraise!
You’ve heard of Veganuary but what about Yoganuary? Let us explain. Every day in January set your alarm for 6am and join Cat Meffan for 31 days of yoga, meditation and a journey of the self. You’ll stretch, yes, but you’ll also learn how to take time for yourself; find moments of stillness and get comfortable with silence. Experience in one-handed handstands like Meffan not necessary.
8. Roll with it
Not all fitness needs to be done at break-neck speed. Spend an evening getting friendly with your foam roller. But rather than simply go back and forwards on tension, use this piece of gym kit as your strength apparatus. Lee Mullins shows you how.
The University of Essex discovered that nature has been shown to improve psychological health by reducing stress, enhancing mood and replenishing mental fatigue. And, as LISS is proven to be less stressful on the body than say, HIIT, pulling on your muddy old trainers for a ramble in the woods could be a better use of your exercise time. Book a session with the great outdoors.
10. Take a break from social media
Clear your mind and boost your wellbeing by giving up the scrolling for an evening. According to The Fuss you’ll see the benefits right away.
11. Use a moment to masturbate
Giving yourself a helping hand when you’re feeling low might not be that appealing, however taking matters into your own hands could benefit your sleep. When you orgasm you release prolactin and serotonin, relaxation and happy hormones. These deal with tension and could help you sleep soundly. We say? Put down your phone and reach for another item that vibrates.
12. Use A Bath oil
Bathing in Plankton extracts might not sound that sexy but its anti-stress skin properties are. Draw a bath and let the oil ease off any trace of the day. Atlantic Kelp And Microalgae Anti-Fatigue Bath Oil, £26.
Feeling the January pinch? Make your own aromatherapy shower bombs c/o our natural beauty insider. The recipe is as follows:
– 120g baking soda
– 60g citric acid
– 2 tbsp water
– 30 drops aromatic essential oil
Mix, pack into balls and ta-da! Natural beauty for less.
14. Practice Face Yoga
It’s not only your shoulders that get tight with tensions. PT Anna Reich believes face yoga should be in your weekly workout routine too. Increase blood flow and energy into your skin, decrease the puffiness and dark circles.
15. Stare at the stars
By now you know the sleep reducing implications of scrolling through Instagram late at night. Instead, sit near a window, relax, and watch the nighttime sky.
16. Self-soothe yourself
Rather than slap on your regular skincare spend time stroking on a moisturiser that contains a desert plant blend. Yes, this sounds weird. But you’ll actually be activating your self-soothing system and also be using an antioxidant-rich mix of Cactus Flower Extract, Prickly Pear Extract, and Yucca Extract for prolonged moisture. Body Hero Daily Perfecting Cream, £18. Glossier.
17. Turn off the TV and turn on the burner
Aromatherapy has long been linked to increased well-being but now, according to the European Society of Cardiology, it also has positive effects on heart rate and blood pressure. Try using an aromatherapy burner in the evenings to slow your systems.
18. Light a candle
If you prefer a candle look for Lavandin oil in the fragrance notes. This is from the same family as the lavender plants and has been linked to combatting mental strength and depression. So, go on, run a bath, light the candle and breathe.
19. Sunday dread proof your slumber
The one thing better than fresh bedding? Sheets scented to reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality. This Works has you (and your bed) covered. Deep Pillow Spray, £18, thisworks.com
Plug in at the gym, on your commute or play in the car. Podcasts and videos can be taken anywhere and everywhere. A speedy-route for self-care.
20. Listen to Gretchen Rubin – Happier Podcast
As an acclaimed author and now award-winning podcast producer Habin is the go-to on creating your own happiness. gretchenrubin.com/podcasts
21. Put on Rachael Kable – The Mindful Kind
Does the concept of mindfulness muddle your mind? These snappy 10-minute podcasts will unpick it for you in a matter of minutes. rachaelkable.com/podcast
22. Watch TED Talks – The Importance of Self-Care
With all the best intentions in the world, it can be easy to lose sight of what’s important for emotional and physical health. TED’ll sort you out.
23. Let The Day Wash Over You
Transport yourself to the heart of the rainforest during a midday shower and let the scientific benefits of nature nurture your soul.
24. Embrace ASMR
Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, or ASMR (which is less of a mouthful) is a physical sensation almost like a tingling on the skin or up and down the spine. Know the feeling? It could help you sleep and there are hundreds of videos YouTube you can access. youtube.com
25. Use Spotify for Stress Relief
A simple way to self-care on the go – music is a sure bet, especially as music has been proven to release dopamine. Get started with Spotify.
26. Create Your Own Calm
Why not create your own playlist filled with songs that have feel-good memories? The amount of dopamine released is 9% higher from music you enjoy according to research by Mind.
27. Find a green space
Research published in Urban Forestry & Urban Greening discovered that green space has a positive effect on mental health. One lunchtime a week wrap up warm and sit outside. Hot drink optional.
28. Order a peppermint tea
Peppermint is known to enhance mood and cognition. Try switching your morning coffee for this minty mood enhancer and notice if feelings of sadness are eased.
29. Do Diaphragmatic breathing
The diaphragm is the most efficient muscle. Use it effectively by taking a timeout to breathe. To do this find a chair and sit comfortably, with your knees bent and your shoulders and neck relaxed. Slowly breathe in through your nose allowing your tummy to press against your hand. The hand on your chest should remain as still as possible. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage. This will allow you to feel your diaphragm move as you breathe.
Fitness isn’t only for exercising your muscles, but also your mind. Exercise has been proven to increase the levels of glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid that are responsible for chemical messages within the brain. And strengthening these is directly linked to regulating physical and emotional health.
30. Go on a bike ride
Not only does going for a spin boost wellbeing from endorphins and exposure to Vit D, new research has uncovered that practising motor skills, such as pedaling helps to keep the brain’s white matter fibre tracts intact. Aka, it helps keep things running smoothly in the brain.
31. Pace yourself at Parkrun
Exercising in a group has been proven to boost well-being. Put it to the test and try a free Parkrun in 2018.
32. Stretch for 5-minutes before bed
Stretching could be the solution to self-care. Studies have shown that stretching not only leaves the body supple and tones, but also the brain. It could even reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and improve mental health.
33. Embrace Yin
Rocket yoga characterised 2017 but its calmer cousin (Yin) will rise to fame in 2018. That’s because restorative yoga practises passive postures designed to stimulate relaxation and greater balance.
34. Try a team sport
Make 2018 the year you boost your long-term happiness. The London School of Economics found that taking part in a team sport is just the trick. So whether it’s netball, hockey or footie – get stuck in!
35. Swap your banana for an apple
An apple a day keeps the doctor away goes the saying. But this isn’t a mere old wives’ tale. Turns out apples include quercetin which prevents your brain cells from damage.
36. Plate up more plants
The benefits of eating the rainbow go beyond a colourful plate. According to Mental Health eating nutritious fruits and vegetables boosts mood and more. And as January is now re-named Vengauary, eating there’s no better month to trial Plant-based eating.
37. Be good to your gut
Yoghurt, sourdough, and pickles are all known to boost gut health. But what can having a good gut do for your self-care? Having healthy gut bacteria has been discovered to moderate our brain behaviour too.
38. Keep hydrated
Drinking water boosts your immune system, flushes out toxins and relieves fatigue.
39. Listen to the Dr’s orders
New recipes invigorate a new routine of self-care in the kitchen. For more about what you’re putting into your mouths and healthy, vibrant recipes, add Dr Rupy Aujla The Doctor’s Kitchen, out now, to your cookbook shelf.
40. Lose your clothes
…and your inhibitions. Stand in front of the mirror and smile. Complement what you’re proud of and the signs of change which show you’ve made progress. It will feel awkward at first but you’ll get used to it.
41. Keep your phone in your bag
On your morning commute to work leave your phone in your bag and concentrate on the world around you. Try to find three things that make you smile.
42. Make a self-date
Choose a time in the week that you’ll do something for you and not because you have to but because you want to. This can be anything (calling an old friend, reading a book or organising your pants drawer) as long as it makes you feel content.
43. Read the labels
Scan ingredients on skincare and makeup to decide if you – and your body – really wants what’s in the mix. Since your skin absorbs what you put on it, it makes sense to be aware of what you’re putting on your body as well as in it.
44. Detach yourself from toxic friends
There is a physical toll that comes from being with toxic friends according to research. And the more you hang out with people you don’t really want to, the less time you have for yourself. Choose positive relationships and distance yourself from the toxic ones.
45. Take a nap
In Taiwan few people would bat an eyelid if you bedded down in your lunch hour, that’s because they work long hours (8 a.m. to 7 p.m). If you can nap, do. And don’t feel guilty for doing so.
46. Pick up the phone
When was the last time you called someone rather than used Whatsapp? Pick up the phone and call a friend – you might just find it boost yours and their mental wellbeing.
47. Find the missing piece
Set up a jigsaw on an empty table in the office. People can stop and complete a piece every time they walk past. After all, jigsaws exercise both sides of the brain and have been linked to longer lifespans and fighting off dementia.
48. De-clutter a room
Clutter adds to stress and confusion in the mind. Plus, objects in your home can also unwittingly evoke unpleasant memories or feeling. Spend a couple of hours at the weekend making space for new moments and memories by saying goodbye to the old.
49. Say “no” to someone
Saying “no” means you are the captain of your own ship. And saying no will help you feel more confident and in control.
50. Track your cycle
Recognise when you need to be kinder on yourself by using a period tracker app. Not every day in the world of hormones is the same. Get to know yours and adjust your schedule accordingly.
51. Make a plan
Forever feeling guilty for missing the gym or not having time to meal prep? Plan your day, week, month around your goals. Book this in like you would any other appointment.
52. Compare less and compliment yourself more
You only have one body; work on it, respect it, love it. And as the New Year can often be a time for negative resolutions we’re here to help you change your approach. Instead of trying to ‘lose’ something, make 2018 the year you reach new heights. Stronger, faster, healthier, happier… Spend January and 2018 trying to reach YOUR personal best.
source : https://www.womenshealthmag.com/uk/health/mental-health/a707705/self-care/