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Developing Healthy Self-Care Habits

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By Brad Krause

Eating right, exercising and addressing health concerns are some of the basic building blocks of a sturdy self-care routine. But self-care shouldn’t stop with physical health and well-being. In fact, a comprehensive care program should address your mental and emotional self as well. So, if you’ve been neglecting those needs, here’s some information and advice to help you develop a robust repertoire of self-care strategies

Saying No

Sometimes, self-care starts with carving time from your calendar. And, in order to do that, many people must first learn to let themselves say ‘no.’ Often, that’s easier said than done since it’s human nature to revert to reciprocity — and that “yes” — without fully considering the consequences in terms of time, energy and money.

And learning the power of saying no is especially important for those dealing with other issues that could compromise their physical and mental well-being, such as substance use disorder and recovery, chronic pain, or anxiety and depression. Indeed, the best way to deal with stressors and triggers that could  jeopardize your physical, mental or emotional health is by avoiding them if at all possible.

So, if you find yourself asked to an event where you’ll be tempted to overuse alcohol, for example, don’t hesitate to decline the invitation. Similarly, don’t feel obligated to host big family gatherings if you know the planning, preparation, and party itself will create more anxiety than eager anticipation for you. And if you know taking a turn volunteering at your kids’ concession stand during baseball games will be too taxing on your joints, offer to assist in other ways that don’t sacrifice self-care.


Making Time for Hobbies

Once you’ve mastered the art of saying no, you’ll have more time and energy to prioritize pursuits that contribute to your self-care routine. If you’re already eating right and exercising, that might mean it’s time to focus on other aspects of your well-being. And the good news is that you don’t need a degree in psychology to hone in on healthy hobbies that offer mental and emotional stimulation.

Hobbies can boost brain health and increase creativity, among other benefits. For instance, activities including art classes or book club meetings provide opportunities to socialize with others who share similar interests, while some hobbies, including writing, lend themselves to alone time. Whether your goal is socializing, self reflection, or a mix of both, experts agree hobbies help reduce stress while increasing your sense of satisfaction. So, it really doesn’t matter what activities you choose as long as you find them both relaxing and engaging.


Getting Enough Sleep

Once you’ve found some hobbies you love, it might be tempting to read just one more chapter or finish an engrossing project before bed. But you should resist the urge to skimp on sleep, which is another important, but often neglected, element of self-care.

Indeed, getting the right amount of sleep benefits both body and mind. As just one example, people who regularly sleep fewer than six hours a night are significantly more likely to have an above-average body mass index than those who get more shuteye and just a few nights of tossing and turning can lead to irritability, fatigue, and decreased motivation and optimism, according to information from Amherst College.

On the cool side of the pillow, adequate amounts of sleep improves mental performance, memory, and athletic performance. Studies also show the right amount of sleep can help protect people from health conditions including high blood pressure and heart disease, with these factors possibly contributing to a longer life span overall. To improve your sleep quality, advice from Amherst suggests limiting late-night electronic use, cutting out caffeine consumption within a few hours of bedtime, and maintaining a consistent bedtime and wake-up routine.

So, if you’d like to feed your body, mind and soul, consider some of these suggestions on hobbies, sleep and the power of no to step up your self-care routine.

Brad Krause graduated from college in 2010 and went straight to the corporate world at the headquarters of a popular retail company. But what started as a dream job soured quickly. After four years of working 15-hour days and neglecting his health, he decided enough was enough. Through aiding a friend during a tough time, Brad discovered his real calling–helping people implement self-care practices that improve their overall wellbeing. He created selfcaring.info to share his own knowledge and the many great resources he finds on his self-care journey.

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