Self-Care: Healthy Habits for Easing Stress and Anxiety
January 15, 2020 | Published by Adrenal Fatigue Team
For many people, self-care isn’t something we really pay attention to until we come down with an illness or injury. It’s important to be cognizant of how we treat ourselves despite how well we feel. Practicing self-care is integral to relieving stress and leading a healthier, happier life.
What is self-care?
Self-care is any action we purposefully take in order to take care of our emotional, mental and physical health. While self-care may be a simple concept, it’s something we often overlook. Practicing self-care can lead to reduced anxiety as well as improved mood and is also key to maintaining healthy relationships with oneself as well as others.1
- As you practice self-care, over time you will find your own routine and rhythm. With time you will be able to implement and identify more particular forms that work for you, but in the beginning it’s important to stick to the basics.1
- Self-care isn’t something that just happens. It is an active choice and it’s important to treat it that way. Increase your commitment by adding activities to your calendar, announcing your plans to others, and actively look for occasions to practice self-care. 1
- It’s important to be conscious of self-care. If you don’t do something in order to take care of yourself or don’t see something as a self-care opportunity, it will not work. Be aware of what you do, how if feels, why you do it, and the benefits of the outcome. 1
Types of self-care
Good physical self-care can be assessed by your physical activity, the amount of sleep you’re getting, being sure to taking medication as prescribed, and managing your general health. 2
For mental self-care, focus on doing things that make you feel mentally healthy such as practicing self-compassion and acceptance. It also includes doing things that keep you mentally acute. Examples include reading books that inspire your mind, learning about a subject that fascinates you, or putting together a puzzle. 2
While uncomfortable emotions like anxiety, anger and sadness are inevitable, practicing emotional self-care can put you in a more advantageous position for dealing with them. Acknowledging and expressing your feelings on a regular basis are vital components to emotional self-care, whether that means having a meaningful conversation with a partner or close friend or setting aside time for leisurely activities that help you process your emotions. 2
12 ways to get started with your self-care3
Make sleep part of your self-care routine
Without the proper amount of sleep, you may notice yourself feeling emotionally or physically exhausted. Consider your regular sleep schedule: are you drinking caffeine just before bed? Are you bringing work-related stress home with you, making it more difficult to fall asleep? Getting good restful sleep is critical, so you may need to make life changes to support a healthier lifestyle.2
Exercise daily as part of your self-care routine
It’s no secret that exercise can be great for stress relief, helping to increase mood and manage anxiety. But some days it’s hard enough to get out of bed, let alone hit the gym every day when suffering from chronic stress, so remember to start low and go slow. When in doubt, speak with a healthcare professional about the amount of physical exercise suitable for your needs.
Eat right for self-care
While eating unhealthy foods can lead to weight gain or diseases such as diabetes, being mindful of what we put in our bodies can help prevent short-term memory loss and inflammation, which can have long-term effects on the brain. Thankfully, eating healthy doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy plenty of tasty foods. Blueberries, fatty fish, broccoli, and green leafy veggies are just a few examples of some self-care foods.
Say no to others, and say yes to your self-care
While saying “no” can be difficult, if you’re already stressed or overworked, saying yes too often to coworkers or loved ones can lead to burnout, irritability, and anxiety. Learning how to politely say no when someone asks us for our time or energy can help you feel more empowered and give you even more time for self-care.
Take a self-care trip
Even if you’re not feeling particularly stressed, getting away from home for a weekend every now and again can help you relax, disconnect, and feel rejuvenated. Even visiting a neighboring town or getting outside to do some camping can have a positive effect on your health.
Take a self-care break by getting outside
Spending some time outside can help you decrease stress, lower your blood pressure, and be more mindful. Getting outdoors can also help reduce fatigue, which can make it much easier to overcome symptoms of burnout or depression.
Let a pet help you with your self-care
Animals can be wonderful companions and can also assist in reducing stress and feelings of anxiety, and even lower blood pressure. Many individuals suffering from disorders such as PTSD have benefited from daily activities with animals.
Take care of yourself by getting organized
Even a small change like keeping a calendar on the fridge or filling out a planner can be the first step towards becoming a healthier version of yourself. Getting organized allows you to figure out exactly what you need to do in order to take better care of yourself.
Cook at home to care for yourself
Swinging by a fast food joint on your way home from work may seem like a stress-relieving convenience, but the truth is that these meals do not contain nutrients sufficient to your body’s needs. Making a meal for yourself or family if just once a week can ensure living a healthier lifestyle. You may even find cooking to be relaxing!
Stay on top of keeping your own self-care time
Finding time in our busy schedules to take time for ourselves can be extremely difficult. Taking a little time for yourself, whether it be waking up 15 minutes earlier every morning or taking a nice walk on your lunch break, can help you feel more grounded and assist you in coming up with ways to move forward with your life.
Instead of viewing this as an overwhelming list of necessities to start living with self-care, think of them more as options to get you started. Find what works for you and try to stick with it. And if that doesn’t work, move on to something else. There are always more ways and opportunities to take better care of yourself.
- Michael, R. What Self-Care Is — and What It Isn’t. PsychCentral. https://psychcentral.com/blog/what-self-care-is-and-what-it-isnt-2/
- Scott, E. 5 Self-Care Practices for Every Area of Your Life. Verywellmind. https://www.verywellmind.com/self-care-strategies-overall-stress-reduction-3144729
- Davis, T. Self-Care: 12 Ways to Take Better Care of Yourself. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/click-here-happiness/201812/self-care-12-ways-take-better-care-yourself