When you hear the term “self-care,” what comes to mind? Many people think self-care must be made up of dedicated “me-time,” luxurious pampering, and intense gym workouts. Who has time or energy for that?! Sure, we would love if everyone had the resources for a weekly spa day or a personal trainer, but we know that is not a reality for the majority of caregivers.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we want to remind families and caregivers that focusing on emotional, mental, and physical wellness and self-care doesn’t have to be time intensive or extremely difficult! Try to think of self-care as “putting your oxygen mask on first,” something flight attendants say to prepare passengers for air emergencies. You must take care of yourself first so that you have the capacity to take care of others. Practicing good self-care also shows your loved ones that your health is also a priority.
What is self-care? Self-care is an intentional act of giving back to yourself in an effort to strengthen or maintain your overall wellness. The act must be something you enjoy doing or that gives you a sense of satisfaction after the act is accomplished. It doesn’t have to be glamorous. In fact, many people are even celebrating acts of “boring self-care.” Not sure how to practice or recognize how you already perform boring self-care? Consider this list for some inspiration:
1) Turn off the news and turn on your favorite music
Do you listen to the news while you drive or watch at home? Although staying informed of current events is important, sometimes the news stresses us out. Try setting limits and turn on some music or a podcast that you enjoy.
2) Drink a glass of water
Many of us are dehydrated which can make us tired and unmotivated. To compensate, we often drink coffee or rely on other stimulants that can dehydrate us even more! Did you know that sleep is also dehydrating? Give back to your body and start your day with a glass of water.
3) Take the dog for a walk
Caring for your animal can feel like a chore, but it’s also an opportunity to get outside. During your walk, take a second to soak in the sun, feel the fresh air in your lungs, and listen to the sounds of nature. Noticing these moments is a form of mindfulness, which acts as a stress-reducer.
4) Brush your teeth
No one wants to admit it, but sometimes good hygiene takes a backseat to caregiving. Use this small act to celebrate your ability to have enough energy to take care of yourself.
5) Meal plan for the week
Spend a day making a bunch of meals for the week. You can make some of your favorite meals or challenge yourself and learn a new recipe. You’ll thank yourself when you get home from work and don’t feel like making a healthy meal. Instead of going out for fast food, just pull out your pre-made meal from the fridge!
6) Go to bed early
Going to bed at 7:00pm may feel a little too boring! But, there’s no shame in setting limits and making more time for yourself to rest. When you wake up the next day feeling refreshed, you’ll thank your boring self for taking it easy the night before.
Remember to celebrate the small acts you took to give back to yourself and your wellness. Encourage yourself to do the things that bring you joy.