Best Ways to Practice Self-Care

It’s Mental Health Awareness Month, and we’re talking about self-care.

Many of us get caught up in the busy day-to-day routine of work, school, family, repeat. But to be successful and effective in your everyday routine, it is imperative that you practice self-care. Remember the oxygen mask rule on airlines: put on your own mask before helping those around you. In other words, you must first fill your own cup before you can pour out for others.

But who has the time, money, or energy to draw a bath every night, get a massage every month, or invest in expensive skincare? Self-care doesn’t have to be taxing – on your routine or your wallet! It can take as little as five minutes a day. At Physician Selected, we believe in building healthier lifestyle habits for your mind and your body. Below, we’ve listed the top three ways to practice self-care today:

1. Do one thing you enjoy

The best way to practice self-care is to enjoy your time! This sounds simple, but so many of us forget to experience enjoyment during our busy routines. Although our schedules are tight – between work, family, trying to get enough exercise – there is always enough time to spend even five minutes doing something you really enjoy. Including enjoyable things throughout your day can help reduce burnout in your everyday routine and give you a sense of happiness despite the stress that might surround you.

Doing something you enjoy can be simple: chatting with a friend, playing a few games on Candy Crush, drinking a smoothie from your favorite cafe, investing time in a newfound hobby. Or you could choose one thing that you enjoy throughout your day to be intentionally grateful for. For example, maybe the sunshine makes you happy; take just a moment to pause and enjoy it!

2. Prioritize your physical health

Taking care of your physical health has been shown to improve your brain health, reduce the risk of disease, and improve your ability to complete everyday tasks. Needless to say, physical health should be our top priority if we hope to be successful in our careers, relationships, and hobbies. But how many of us push our physical health to the side when times get busy?

A full schedule is never too full to disregard our body’s needs. Taking care of your physical health can be as simple as practicing good hygiene or as rigorous as exercising five days a week.

Taking a shower, spending a few extra minutes getting ready, and wearing your favorite outfit are all simple ways that you can take care of your body and help yourself feel your best. If you want to make bigger lifestyle changes to up your self-care routine, remember to start small. Start by eating one healthy meal a day until it becomes a habit, then try incorporating more healthy meals into your routine. Or start exercising two or three days a week until it becomes a part of your schedule, then maybe try adding in an extra day or two.

3. Take a step back and reflect

After all the work you’ve done throughout the day, it’s important to slow down and reflect on what’s happened – the good and the bad. Self-reflection at the end of a day is known to produce personal growth as you learn from your mistakes. It can also help you help those around you by becoming more self-aware of situations that might trigger you to have a negative stress response. Overall, taking a few minutes to step back can help catalyze personal self-growth and may help you more easily reach your goals.

Self-reflection can take a variety of forms. The most obvious way to practice self-reflection is to take a few minutes to journal before heading to bed. Writing just one page each night in your journal can help cement this habit. Another way to self-reflect is to write down three things you were grateful for throughout the day. According to a study by Harvard, practicing gratitude can produce more positive emotions, help you better handle challenges, and build healthier relationships.

If journaling isn’t for you, try reading a few pages of a book. Or try to start a mindfulness meditation habit. For more information on mindfulness and stress management, check out this article on the PS blog.

No matter what your daily routine looks like, we all have even just five minutes to focus on taking care of ourselves first – in hopes that we can take care of those around us. Without self-care, it becomes harder to effectively perform at our jobs, communicate in our relationships, or spend time with our family. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, try to incorporate one of these tips into your everyday routine. For more ideas on practicing self-care, check out Psychology Today’s resource list. Or treat yourself to our new Self-Care Bundle!