Healthy Beginnings

Try these 15 ideas to improve your self-care in 2019

Writing down your thoughts each day can do wonders for your self-esteem. Photo: Shutterstock

The term “self-care” has become a buzzword in the wellness world and beyond. While social media might make it seem that the term is all about taking bubble baths with facemasks, it encompasses so much more. It’s about nourishing your mind, body and soul.

First and foremost, self-care doesn’t have to involve large, sweeping changes to your life. It can be as simple as blocking off a chunk of time in your busy day to squeeze in a workout class or starting your morning with a 15-minute meditation.

We live in a society that often glorifies “busy” at the expense of our own wellbeing. As someone who has struggled in the past to find a healthy balance in life, here are the self-care tips that I try to incorporate into my days when possible:

  1. Up your morning routine

How you start your morning can have a huge impact on the day ahead. Simple adjustments to your routine can set you up for success, whether that means setting aside 15 minutes to ensure you make a nutritious breakfast or squeezing in a quick 30-minute yoga session. Making your bed when you wake up can also help to set the tone for the day.

  1. Drink more water

Health experts generally say that you should consume eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. While that can vary depending on your size and weight, focusing on staying hydrated throughout the day is an important way to take care of yourself. If you’re having trouble remembering to drink water, try a water bottle that keeps you on track with a timeline for how much you should consume every hour.

  1. Say ‘no’

There is great power in saying “no” — whether it’s to social plans when you’re tired or an additional project when you’re overworked. Prioritizing yourself in certain situations is not selfish — it’s smart. Though this can be a tough pill to swallow for people pleasers (hi!), it’s an important skill to learn.

  1. Try meditation

Do you ever feel like your brain has way too many tabs open? Meditation is a helpful way to calm your thoughts and get in touch with your body. For those who don’t know where to start with this process, try a guided meditation using an app like Headspace or Calm. The benefits of regular meditation include reduced stress, improved mental clarity, and lower blood pressure, to name a few.

  1. Facemasks

Donning facemasks is the trendy, Instagramable form of self-care right now, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable. Not only does it leave your skin feeling and looking great, it’s a physical reminder that this time while you’re wearing your mask is about you. Relax. Breathe deeply. Unwind. “Prude and Boujee,” a skincare boutique devoted solely to facemasks, just opened in Reno this winter. There, you’ll find every type of facemask, from sheet and under-eye to charcoal and mud.

  1. Incorporate deep-breathing exercises

When times get stressful, it can be an easy fix to reach for a distraction like social media, a glass of wine or Netflix, for example. While these may seem like quick fixes, learning to pause and focus on your breathing can help lower your heart rate, which spikes during stressful times. Inhale deeply through your nose and hold the breath for two to five seconds. Exhale through your mouth and repeat at least five times.

  1. Try a new workout class

Whether you frequent the gym already or need to get your body moving, workout classes are a great way to stay in shape and keep your routine interesting. Try a spin class at Soul Space or a Beginners Muay Thai class at Reno City Kickboxing. Booking ahead of time keeps you accountable for showing up and ensures you block off that time for yourself instead of meetings or carpool pick-up.

  1. Stretch

Before bed, at your desk, in the morning — there isn’t a wrong time to stretch your body. Try incorporating 15 minutes of stretching into your daily routine starting with your upper body and moving onto your lower body.

  1. Get outside

Spending time in nature elevates your mood and can expose you to some much-needed Vitamin D. Even if you can’t find time to get out into a forest, go spend time in a park, take a walk through a botanical garden, or even just stroll through the neighborhood.

  1. Be mindful

Instead of splitting your attention in three different directions — i.e. listening to a podcast while scrolling through Instagram while you’re writing an article on self-care tips — try to put your full attention into whatever task you have before you. Studies have show that we are measurably less happy when our focus is split, so work each day to incorporate mindfulness into your routine.

  1. Limit your screen time

Numerous studies have shown that the more time you spend staring at screens, the unhappier you are. The iPhone lets users set limits on how long they can be on certain apps and social media and allows them to set times to lock up the phone.

  1. Journal about your day

Put pen to paper to help sort out your thoughts each day. If you’re new to journaling and don’t know where to start, find a journal that provides daily prompts to help you write about what you were most thankful for that day or what challenges you faced.

  1. Drink your veggies

Only one in 10 adults eat enough fruits and vegetables to meet the federal recommendations, according to the Centers for Disease Control. If you find it difficult to get enough produce in your diet, consider adding freshly-pressed juice to your diet.

  1. Go to bed early

Getting a solid eight hours of sleep does wonders for your body and mind. Instead of watching that last episode of “The Great British Baking Show,” get into bed and prioritize sleep. Bonus points if you turn on an essential oil diffuser with relaxing lavender.

  1. Treat yourself

Self-care doesn’t have to be all about limiting indulgences. Go buy yourself a deep tissue massage. Have a glass of wine (or two). Eat a gluten-filled, full-fat cookie. Everything in moderation.

Claire Cudahy is a Reno-based freelance writer and contributor to Healthy Beginnings Magazine.