For skeptics, the term “self-care” may sound fluffy and frivolous, but even the act of brushing your teeth is a part of self-care. It means taking care of your physical and mental health. It’s about recognizing and meeting your needs so you can be your best, healthiest self for the people you love. Self-care doesn’t have to be complicated or fussy, and here are some basics to get you started.
Did you know that regular cardio can help your sex life? By improving circulation in the body, more blood goes to the penis during an erection. But you don’t have to run 5Ks or marathons; even leisurely walking can help put lead in your pencil. Beyond that, moving your body helps manage stress, supports hormone balance, and releases endorphins. Running or brisk walking, cycling, bodyweight exercises, fitness classes, and weight lifting can all help with this. Keep it simple to start, and then add to it.
Time in nature has stress management and mental health benefits. Sun on bare skin makes vitamin D, which improves mood and brain function, boosts the immune system, and helps keep blood sugar stable. Getting outdoors also provides opportunities to be active. Hikes, walks, or bike rides allow for nature and movement.
Recording thoughts and observations helps you process information and feelings. Journaling can be whatever you need it to be. Many draw pictures or write about fictional scenarios. Start by writing down what you did today. Add details like how you slept last night, energy during the day, what you ate, and what happened in your life. You may start to see your life differently and more clearly.
Negative self-talk is a bad habit, and everyone does it. When was the last time you said something good to yourself or paid yourself a compliment? Probably a while if you’re like most. Think quick and easy, like telling yourself, “You’ve totally got this,” (preferably in a mirror, with finger guns) before an important meeting.
Create a routine
Having a hard time getting going in the mornings? Is your sleep quality bad? A routine can help your body relax into a natural rhythm that makes doing the basics a little easier. It all starts with structuring your day, setting times to eat, work, move, and sleep. Work backward from there and fill in the other details. You’ll notice improvements in your energy and mood, which can make you more productive and happy.
If you find yourself constantly planning, reminiscing, or thinking about everything else but what’s in front of you, then this is important. Working with your hands can support mindfulness. Other methods include yoga, meditation, and tai chi. At meals, try eating slowly, think about where your food comes from, or the origins of each dish. Eat without distractions like TV or devices.
Taking a high-quality multivitamin and omega-3 supplement is a great way to make sure your body is getting everything it needs. Omega-3s help improve memory, decrease inflammation, and improve blood sugar. Ideally, people wouldn’t need supplements, but crops are grown in poor soil and shipped thousands of miles, losing nutrients at every step. Look for third-party tested, pharmaceutical-grade vitamins and seek out naturally-derived ingredients.
Look your best
Never underestimate what a fresh shave, a good haircut, or new clothes will do for you. Small things like using face lotion can make a subtle difference. When buying clothes, choose items that flatter your best features and distract from features you don’t want to highlight. If the idea of trying on stacks of clothes to find the unicorn doesn’t appeal to you, there is another option: a quick online search for personal shopper services makes it easy to look amazing.
What’s not self-care
People sometimes use the term “self-care” to validate poor choices. If you have to do mental gymnastics to justify why you are doing something, it’s probably not self-care. Time to man up and take care of yourself, so you can take care of the people you love.
Gary Berglund, a certified personal trainer, corrective exercise specialist, yoga teacher, and nutrition coach, is the founder of Omnifunction, an online fitness and nutrition coaching brand that embraces a non-diet mindset and the practice of exercise to enhance quality of life. Gary uses behavioral change tactics and takes a Health At Every Size (HAES) approach to coach clients toward their goals. Connect at Omnifunction.us or on instagram and Facebook at @omnifunction.