Although 2020 was a difficult and turbulent year for many, one thing a lot of us learned was the importance of taking care of ourselves, physically and mentally. Think back on your moments of resilience last year, and ask yourself: what can I do for myself to be as resilient as possible? What made me feel better? What should I avoid, that made me feel worse?
Self-care is an act of taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. Research shows that acts of self-care can improve your health, lead to better productivity, and help prevent burnout. Sometimes, it’s easier to put others and work before ourselves, but remember that we can’t pour from an empty cup. You will be able to offer more to those around you if you take care of yourself first. With this in mind, consider making yourself a self-care check list. Self-care looks different for everyone, which is completely okay.
If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve made a list of suggestions are below.
- Schedule self-care into your routine It’s easy to intend to do self-care when we have free time, but creating a purposeful routine can assist us in ensuring it actually happens.
- Create a routine During lockdown, many struggled without consistency, structure and routine. These are key factors for a solid mental health foundation. Plan how you want your days and weeks to look like. The amount of structure and what you do is up to you.
- Check in on relationships Staying connected with loved ones is a core component of wellbeing.
- Get moving Think about what works for you – perhaps it’s jogging, or dancing, or lifting weights. It might be as simple as a walk around the block. Exercise reduces stress and anxiety, increases energy, and leads to better sleep.
- Change your surroundings Perhaps the start of the year is a good time for you to move things around and revamp your space. Make your room a personal sanctuary, even if that just means rearranging the furniture.
- Eat healthy Food affects how we feel, think, and behave. Fast food, sugary snacks and wine are all quick ways to emotionally soothe. In the short term they work to boost your mood and make you feel better. However, comfort eating with unhealthy food and beverages ultimately make anxiety and depression worse. Studies show that eating a healthy diet to benefit our gut is critical for mental health, and can positively intervene with anxiety, depression, and ADHD to reduce symptoms. Particularly beneficial is eating fish, nuts, beans, fruits, vegetables, probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, and limiting packaged or processed foods or foods high in sugar.
- Hydrate Making sure you are adequately hydrated can make a big difference in how you feel. Even mild dehydration can make you feel tired or lethargic: Your blood volume lowers, which means you don't get as much blood to your brain and your heart has to pump harder.
- Figure out what helps you feel rejuvenated This looks different to different people. Relaxing can help us to lower and alleviate stress and anxiety. Relaxation could mean reading a book, journaling, doing yoga, baking, arts and crafts. Breathing exercises or guided meditations are available online.
If you are unsure or feeling overwhelmed, you can also call the free 24/7 National ANXIETY HELPLINE (0800 ANXIETY; 0800 269 4389) or have a look on our website regarding any additional support.