There’s no shortage of tips and tricks when it comes to how you should live your best life. The beauty of having so many self care ideas on the internet is that you can pick and choose what might work for you.
After all, self care is not a one-size-fits-all deal. For some, hyper productivity can actually be the opposite of self care where for others, too much time spent idle can have detrimental effects.
Keep in mind what might work for you and don’t be afraid to try different things and abandon them if they don’t feel right – this is YOUR year of self care!
Part 1: Begin a Media Diet
Have you ever noticed that there is always a steady stream of bad news for the media to report on? When one major thing take precedent, it might seem like nothing else is happening.
But the fact is, there are events (good, bad and completely neutral) happening every day, all over the world. Which ones are you hearing about?
The media we choose to consume has a direct effect on our daily moods and attitudes toward life. One of the best things you can add to your self care routine this year is a media diet.
Limit Your News Consumption
Like we’ve explained above, the news isn’t an accurate reflection of the state of the world and can be addictive.
With media outlets often being biased or designing its news cycle in such a way to produce clicks, somethings the best thing for your mental health may be to unplug altogether.
Do you find yourself doom-scrolling at the end of the day, left wondering why you can’t sleep? While it’s good to be informed, like anything else, there is a healthy balance to be found.
Start with not tuning into the news or scrolling through news on your phone for just 3 days and see how it makes you feel. If you feel noticeably better, consider this your sign to continue to limit your access to the news.
Limit Your Social Media Consumption
Directly related to the news consumption is of course, social media. How many of us are completely addicted to our phones?
We open our phone to perform a specific task (example, looking up a recipe or using our calculator) and instead we find ourselves drawn into an automatic response of checking every social media platform, refreshing, and scrolling.
Social media is designed in such a way to evoke some pretty unpleasant mental responses. In a world where clicks and engagement keeps that addiction rolling, the algorithm wants to serve you media that outrages, baits and prompts a fight response.
You may also be tempted into consumerism through ads or led into negative self-talk through comparison with others.
The solution is pretty obvious but it’s not that easy to just stop using social media (as there are some positive aspects to social media too).
Instead, try to limit yourself to a certain amount of time in the morning and evening. The benefits of cutting back on scrolling can be felt immediately.
Replace with Different Forms of Entertainment
So what will you do with all your spare time now that you aren’t doom scrolling or refreshing social media? Think of your media consumption like a diet – the more junk you put in, the worse you will feel.
Try to spend your time instead consuming thoughtful forms of media – whether it be enjoying a movie (truly enjoying, not looking at your phone while occasionally watching the film), a book or even certain YouTube channels (there’s a ton of great, long form content out there).
Part 2: Strike a Balance With Your Time
In direct correlation with not spending so much time on bad forms of media, it’s important to fill your days with what you really want to be doing. Get intentional with how you’re planning your day or week, and the payoff will be huge.
Spend Time Outside
While every person will have their own preferences on what refreshes and rejuvenates them, I can’t stress enough how much getting outside can make a difference in your day which is why it’s received its own call-out in this article.
We all know that mental health walks, while at times arduous to actually get up and do, reap many benefits like a better night’s rest and a clearer mind.
Other activities that will get you through the dark winter months include snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and skating (if you live in a cold climate like me, of course).
If you prefer not to exercise, you can also just sit outside beneath a tree and breathe in the fresh air.
Set Boundaries Regarding Your Time
What happens when you over-exert yourself with plans and commitments? Burn out, of course. While a balance between socializing and staying in is certainly needed and recommended, it’s absolutely okay to pick and choose what you attend.
For me, getting a full night’s rest of important. While I’m willing to break this rule for special occasions like New Year’s, I really prefer to not stay out too late when visiting with friends.
This has taken some getting used to for those around me (I used to be a night owl), but I know at times cutting an evening short allows me to refuel in the way I need to.
But Also, Make Plans
Now more than ever, many of us are finding ourselves spending more and more time alone in our homes. As an introvert, when I make a concerted effort to see others and do interesting things, I feel better for it.
Even if I find myself slightly regretting the plans ahead of time, or wishing I could just lay around, I always feel much better when I follow through.
This doesn’t mean you need to make plans every week – but I find that having one solid committed activity per month does wonders for my mental health. That could be a cooking class, a dinner party with friends, a bowling night, a movie night, a brunch, a hiking day or a road trip…the list goes on!
Part 3: Live For Today
I know, I know, isn’t living in the moment just so cliche? Well, it’s true. As Emily Dickinson wrote, “Forever is composed of nows.” Anyone with anxiety will know just how much time is spent agonizing about the past or future, at the expense of the present.
Although you are always in the present (there’s no other way to be), everything we’ve covered in this article henceforth will help you truly feel present. In the present, there is little room for guilt, worry, stress or perfectionism.
Another typical entry in any self-care list is meditation – but for good reason. Meditation is the ultimate way to ground yourself in the present.
Depending on which style you choose, your time might involve focusing purely on your breath or just noticing thoughts that arise in your brain.
In addition to feeling much, much calmer, meditation also provides some insight into how our consciousness really works and helps us to detach from feeling out of control simply because our thoughts come in fast and furious.
Classic Self Care Activities
When it comes to self-care advice, there’s a reason why pampering and slowing down is so often included. Whether it be taking a hot bath, curling up with a good book, sipping your coffee or tea slowly in the morning — all these activities allow you to slow down and focus on the sights and sensations directly around you.
There’s no mindless scrolling, replaying images from the past, worrying about the future. The idea is to focus solely on the warm beverage in your hand, or the sudsy bubbles against your body.
Do not even think about feeling guilty for doing any one of these activities — they only exist to serve you better.
There are countless ways to care for your body and mind this year. The important thing is to try different things, get rid of the tactics that don’t work and keep the ones that do. And when you fail, start again.