5 Actually Useful Tips for Self-Care and Well-Being
Have you ever wondered what self-care is to you? You’ve probably come across plenty of social media content claiming that self-care means painting your nails or having a “duvet day”, and yes: Those things can be part of a healthy self-care routine.
But caring for yourself and experiencing well-being goes much deeper and may vary from person to person. True self-care affects our mind, heart, body and soul. Today, we’ll be touching on all of these areas.
Side note: I would like to thank my lovely online network for submitting your favourite self-care and well-being tips to help contribute to this blog post (contributors listed at the end of this article).
1. Maintain healthy relationships
As human beings, we aren’t meant to be alone 100% of the time. We thrive on companionship and need each other to make it through life. When you’re going through difficult times, you naturally rely on friends, family members, or colleagues, even if all they can do is listen – sometimes that’s all you need anyway. As a true friend and supporter, you would do the same for them because you know that relationships need to be continually nurtured.
Here’s the problem with lots of self-care advice out there though: It focuses too much on the “self” and not enough on the “care”. Anything along the lines of “It’s okay to be selfish and ignore your friends when they need to vent” is not only bad advice and unfair to the people in your life, it’s actually also hurting you: Deep down, you know that you would feel more comfortable within yourself if your relationships were harmonious and equal.
There are several things you can do to improve the relationships with the people in your life:
Tell them what you appreciate about them: Giving compliments, especially about someone’s achievements or character traits, or writing thank-you notes, is a wonderful way to spread love and appreciation. You never know what someone might be going through and all it takes is a kind word to turn their day around. Plus, it makes you feel good, too!
Talk things over with someone you still have unresolved issues with, if possible.
Apologise if you’ve done something wrong: Swallowing your pride might be difficult for five minutes but will give you enormous relief and hopefully mend your relationship with the affected counterpart.
Learn to forgive someone who hurt you, even if they never asked for your forgiveness (this is a big one, I know!).
Consider cutting ties with people who repeatedly bring toxic energy into your life if there’s no other option. If you feel bad after each interaction with this person or even feel like you can’t be yourself around them, it may be time to say goodbye.
Unfortunately, lots of self-care advice out there focuses too much on the "self" and not enough on the "care".
2. Let your thoughts flow freely
You probably spend the majority of your day carrying out tasks from your to-do list and answering people’s emails so they, too, can check off their next to-do item. Very rarely do you check in with your thought patterns, am I right? Luckily, it only takes some practise to let your thoughts flow freely and make sense of them.
“I don't know what I think until I write it down.” – Joan Didion
One very popular method to air out your stream of consciousness is journaling, and it comes in many shapes and sizes: Whether you’re a crafty bullet journal user like @shtranslations or you have chicken scratch handwriting like me, noting down your thoughts without judgment is a great way to ease your mind. If you don’t want to write too lengthy pieces, you could try keeping a gratitude journal and log 3 simple things you’re thankful for. You may be surprised at what you come up with!
It doesn’t need to be journaling though: Drawing or painting à la Bob Ross can yield the same stimulating effects and release happy little thoughts. Especially during the pandemic, online drawing lessons have enjoyed an increase in popularity in the UK.
3. Listen to your body
You wouldn’t let your phone battery go down to 0%? Then why should your human body be treated any differently? We’re not built like machines: We can’t get up in the morning and just go, go, go without “fuel”. We need to regularly replenish our energy levels to feel and perform our best.
There are many movement-related ways for you to feel more energised. To name a few:
Going for a walk or hike
Practising Qi gong or martial arts in general
Then, there’s also the other type of regaining energy, namely through rest. That’s right. If we listen carefully enough, our body tells us exactly what it needs at any given time, and it’s important we obey. Invigorate your senses with a bubble bath or schedule some alone time to give yourself a break from draining meetings and tedious errands.
A simple yet often overlooked way to literally replenish is by drinking plenty of water. According to VeryWellHealth.com, dehydration can cause headaches – the last thing you need, ever. Look after your body, and it will look after you.
4. Don’t let your phone control you
Can you even imagine life without your phone nowadays? As much as it pains me to admit it: Neither can I. It’s not just for fun either. I rely on my phone for work-related matters such as confirming translation jobs or posting interesting content to my Instagram.
When I asked around, many of my network connections mentioned their struggle with excessive phone time and not knowing how to improve upon it. The good news? There’s an awareness here! People realise that too much screen time (phone, tablet or laptop) isn’t good for our brain. As the AA motto goes: Admitting there’s a problem is the first step towards recovery. Remember that everyone is different and solving your phone addiction won’t come overnight.
Here are a few ways to try limiting your screen time:
Reduce the number of people you follow on social media. Again: Ask yourself if they bring any benefits (knowledge, inspiration) to your feed. If the answer is no, then why are you following them in the first place?
Physically remove your phone: This is something I do every night. My phone “sleeps” in the living room, while I calmly snooze in my comfy bed. You could take it a step further and place your phone somewhere awkward when trying to be productive or even lock it away.
Distract yourself: Give yourself plenty of opportunities to not even think about your phone by doing things around your home or catching up on a book or magazine.
Apps for limiting your screen time: However ironic this may seem, there are timer apps that block other, more distracting (e.g. social media) apps for a set period of time. One of these apps is called Forest: It’s meant to limit distractions and increase productivity levels by letting you plant virtual trees (hence the name forest). If you can’t stick to your specific “off” time to work on a focused task, your trees die. However, if you do manage to stay off your phone, you can grow an entire forest.
Turn off notifications during evenings and weekends: If you need your email apps on your phone for when you're on the go, try limiting your notifications by turning them off during evenings and weekends. Remember: There’s a time to work, but there’s also a time to rest.
5. Do something you love on a regular basis
You may enjoy your work and like what you do on a daily basis. I certainly like what I do: I help people communicate beyond their own language, and I care about my work with all my heart. But: It’s still work. What I love to do is singing, for example. Although I can’t make a living off of it, I do it because I have a burning passion for music and I love the exciting yet soothing feeling I get when I sing.
What's something you love to do, something that makes your heart sing? Do more of that every day, week, month – whenever you can!
Whether it’s a hobby or a seemingly menial activity, there are numerous things that can make us feel calmer and happier:
going for a walk
listening to or playing music
doing a jigsaw puzzle
watching a movie
cooking a new recipe
indulging in a sweet tooth now and then
The only problem is: These activities often fall short because our time – and energy – is consumed by such things as work or household chores. So, what can we do? Make time. Treat that something that you love doing like an appointment or a meeting you can't miss. Studies suggest that people who make time for hobbies and passions are more relaxed and in control of their emotions.
Try viewing these creative activities or hobbies as a mental break from work or studies, an outlet if you will. Remember: We work to live, not the other way around.
People I would like to thank for their tips shared on LinkedIn and Instagram (you’re contributing to an important and meaningful conversation 😊):
Angela Rampino Catherine Castling Mathilde Lambert Belén Maidana Ana Sánchez Isidoro Claudia Pannozzo Itzel Carmona Jasmin Haselberger Isabella Reindl Clare Suttie Heidi Rannisto-Jolma Ashley Griffiths Heike Schimanski Stephanie Hancox Esmeralda Muñoz Bravo