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Self-Care Practices

Feb/18/2024 / by Sweta Vikram

Whether it’s switching off or decluttering, being regular with these will make navigating life easier 

Self-care word on a lightbox on a light pink background
Photo via Shutterstock

I think of self-care as a wellness guide that helps an individual through good and hard times. Self-care is necessary to function, keep our stress low, our sanity intact, energy high, and maintain a healthy relationship with oneself. To be able to honor our personal and professional commitments, we need self-care in place.  

Unfortunately, most people view self-care as a luxury rather than a priority. People believe spa day, binge-watching Netflix while drinking wine, or dinners with friends count as self-care. This type of self-care is limiting as it’s an occasional indulgence. And they don’t equip you to deal with life’s daily challenges.

Also, think about it—that bottle of wine to wind down or late-night overindulgence with friends will impact your diet, physical health, and mental wellbeing. If you are going through money problems, how do you justify an opulent day at the spa? Running a credit card debt will take a toll on your emotional, financial, mental, and even physical wellness. Then self-care goes out the window!

Small acts of daily self-care have a monumental impact on our mental and physical wellbeing. Self-care helps us build resilience in life as we can’t hit the “delete” button on stressful people or environments or phases. Self-care means taking the time to do things that help you live well and improve both your physical health and mental health.[1]

Different Kinds of Self-Care

Financial

Physical

Mental

Nutritional and diet 

Environmental

Emotional

Spiritual

Social

Educational

Professional

Self-Care Practices

Life will always bring its ups and downs. But solid self-care practices can help us navigate overwhelming events. When you put your best foot forward, everybody wins.

Here are some self-care practices that will help you manage life’s challenges.

Zone Out

Every now and then, disengage with the world no matter how much you love your friends and family. Turn your brain off and reboot. This could mean staring out the window or spending time in nature or taking a yoga class. Or it could be just a few episodes of a show you like without feeling the need to check your phone for messages or social media updates.

Restorative Rest

As an Ayurvedic doctor, I have started to offer my clients a few Saturday slots until lunch time as they are all busy professionals and weekdays might not always work for them. Thus, I am carving out time on Sundays to restore myself after a long week at work. This could mean lazing in bed, whipping up a favorite childhood recipe for brunch, or going to the movies with my husband. I may also choose to read a book or spend extra time in the gym listening to an audiobook, all without commitments or agendas, and whatever feels restorative on a given Sunday.

Keep Yourself Hydrated

People forget to drink water. I am not kidding! There are apps and timers for it. I suggest paying attention to when you are thirsty and refilling your bottle of water with warm water regularly.

Spend Time In Nature

We all have different experiences of nature, and different reasons for wanting to connect with it. You might find you get something completely different from one activity compared to someone else. But being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings.

Heart Connections

I am not a fan of circus-like gatherings. But I am nuts about intimate meetups and conversations. I am very close to my friends and some of my cousins. While I try to see a friend or two during the week after work or for lunch, sometimes weather-Gods or work commitments interfere. No matter what, I have a heart-to-heart conversation with friends and/or cousins every day, and I notice how positively it impacts my mental wellbeing. Studies have found that people with more positive social relationships than their peers have better brain power as they age.

No Gadgets At Mealtimes

In our home, we have a no-phone policy while we eat. Ayurveda teaches us to eat with awareness, so no arguments or debates at the dinner table. Even on days I work from home, I will take a 10-minute lunch break to enjoy every bite of the food and say my gratitude to myself (the chef) and everyone who has made the meal possible—from farmers to my husband to everyone in-between.

Get Sun In Your Face

I know freezing temperatures might discourage one from stepping out. During the winter months, open the blinds and let the sun rays wash your face. They help release happy hormones.

Move Your Body

Unplug and move. Step away from the distractions of emails, social media, conference calls, grocery lists, household chores, family obligations, and other social commitments. Move!

 Movement is good for recharging and refreshing our mental pathways. Exercising even moderately boosts endorphin levels, and these feel-good chemicals protect our brains and bodies while reducing risk of depression.

Schedule Time To Heal

Women tend to put their own needs on the backburner. Eventually we burnout, and everyone pays a price for it. Carve out time to breathe, pamper yourself, declutter your mind, pause, meditate, slow down, and heal regularly. Don’t feel guilty and don’t offer justification (to yourself or others). Self-care isn’t selfish as no one can pour from an empty cup.

Discover New Things

I don’t necessarily mean new restaurants. Find new classes, podcasts, or hobbies. This helps the brain to remain curious and the heart excited. Active learning also introduces you to new people and communities. Many of my friends have taken to pottery and crotchet, and it’s been a game changer for their emotional wellbeing.

Don’t Compromise On Sleep

It’s one of the key pillars of health yet so often ignored. Good sleep hygiene is integral to how we function, face life, remain healthy, heal, and much more.

Treat Yourself

Be it flowers or a cookie or a relaxing bath or a handbag… it’s important to acknowledge your hard work and treat yourself every now and then.

Donate To Causes

Volunteering gives us purpose and introduces us to like-minded communities. Be it time or money, it’s important to do something for others. It is also a great way to reduce loneliness. 

Declutter Regularly

Decluttering should be a regular practice. This could mean unfollowing people on social media who bring you down, cleaning up a pile of mail, or cutting down the overflow of clothes from your closet, or saying no to those who mess with your mental health. Studies have linked stress with cluttered environments.

These are some of my self-care suggestions. What are some of your self-care practices and goals?

“When we give ourselves compassion, we are opening our hearts in a way that can transform our lives.” ~ Kristin Neff

[1] https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/caring-for-your-mental-health

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