The term self-care gets thrown around a lot, so that self-care can start to feel like just one more thing to add to the bottom of your long to-do list. But staying mentally healthy and physically healthy is important, even if you are a busy student juggling college classes with your personal and professional life. Good self-care routines can have many benefits, including helping you move through life energized and happy. With this list of mental and physical health tips, you can implement a few minor changes to your daily life to start taking better care of yourself right away.
Rejuvenate with a relaxing bedtime ritual and a full night’s sleep
Not getting enough sleep is a real problem for adults in the US. Too little sleep can slow down your reaction times, decrease your ability to focus, and negatively impact your health and energy. If you have trouble falling asleep, follow a consistent sleep schedule. Keep your room dark and quiet with phones on alarm-only mode. A relaxing bedtime ritual – like reading a book, drinking caffeine-free herbal tea or taking a soothing bath – can help. At a minimum, let your brain wind down by avoiding television, computers and exercise for 30 minutes before bedtime.
Eat food that gives you energy for your day
Eating well is a most important self-care activity. Start with a high-protein breakfast that will give you energy, and then avoid high sugar foods that will result in a crash that leaves you exhausted. If you’re on the go, bring easy-to-eat snacks with you for the day ahead, like nuts, yogurt or pre-cut veggies. If you know you get too busy during the week to make healthy meals, prep breakfasts, lunches and dinners over the weekend that you can quickly reheat and eat.
Spend time in nature at least once a week
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, some fresh air could help. Being in nature can lower stress hormones, reduce mental fatigue and increase emotional well-being, including boosting the serotonin in our brain. Time in nature has also been linked to improved attention span, creativity and short-term memory, and researchers believe that walking in the woods can lower blood pressure, boost your immune system and decrease cancer risk. If you’re not the outdoorsy type, weekend hiking excursions aren’t required; simply spending time under the trees in a local park can do you good.
Daily physical activity can help you feel happier, more alert and more energetic. Of course, when you’re busy, it’s hard to put exercise at the top of your list. To change that, find something you actually like doing. If running or lifting weights is not your thing, try turning up your music and having a daily dance session before the kids come home. Maybe a yoga session or kickboxing routine will do the trick. Find a video online and you won’t even need to leave the house. If possible, get creative and combine activities. Do you have work phone calls that could be held while walking instead of sitting? Could you do exercises while watching the evening news? Maybe you could get family time in by walking or biking around the neighborhood! If you look for them, you’re sure to find opportunities to fit more movement into your days. Whatever you choose, don’t fret about the intensity of your workout either. A little goes a long way; taking a few short breaks throughout the day to move and stretch can be enough to lower stress and help you stay mentally healthy.
Quit a bad habit
Self-care doesn’t have to be about starting something new. Sometimes, it’s about quitting what you know is bad for you. Do you feel guilty for eating the junk food in your pantry? Don’t buy it anymore. Do you spend too long scrolling on social media? Install an app that will limit your usage. Everyone has things they should stop doing. Think about it. What habits are getting in your way? What actions stress you out rather than bring you joy? What can you do to simplify the process of eliminating or reducing those behaviors?
Make your self-care routine stick
Remember, a good self-care routine doesn’t have to be fancy. It starts with getting enough sleep, eating well and moving your body. It might involve building a habit or dropping an old one. Whatever area you want to work on, pick one self-care activity to focus on and start there. Change doesn’t happen overnight, so give yourself grace and aim for progress, not perfection, as you work toward a physically and mentally healthier you!
To learn more tips on making improvements to your daily life, be sure to visit the South University Blog!