Stress and anxiety affect us all. This has been especially true during these past few years, when COVID-19 took us all out of our comfort zones. When we don’t practice self-care, when we don’t actively manage our stress and anxiety, it can have seriously detrimental effects on our mental and physical well-being, which can negatively impact our work, our family life, and our relationships with others.
As consultants, we at EHS Support are driven by helping people. Most leaders are. Unfortunately, it’s not common knowledge on how to take care of yourself. To provide leadership in my company, I need to keep myself healthy. People rely on me. (We all have someone relying on us!). There’s just no time to be ill. That’s why many years ago I began to look past the hype and the “quick fix” wellness approaches, do my research, and learn for myself how to keep myself and my family healthy—from a wholistic perspective. What started as a research project to help myself feel my best turned into a full-blown hobby of wellness coaching for my family and friends. Not only has it helped me manage my own stress, but it’s also made me be a better leader, parent, wife, and friend.
Self-care has become somewhat of a buzz phrase in today’s culture; however, that doesn’t mean it’s not important. Basically, self-care means taking the time to pay attention to our body’s needs to be our very best.
Here are 10 easy ways you can practice self-care and start feeling better today:
- Exercise Daily – Everyone knows that exercise is good for our physical health. But exercise can also greatly improve your mental well-being as well. This doesn’t mean you have to hit the gym for two hours or go out for a five-mile run. Something as simple as going for a daily walk can do wonders for your health and help you reduce stress.
- Be Self-Aware – Pay attention to how your body and mind feel. If you’re feeling sluggish, tired, irritable, depressed, etc., it’s probably a sign that you need some self-care. Take a few moments each day to do a self-check on your physical and mental state. Doing so can help you recognize when you’re stressed and what triggered it, so that you can take the proper actions to address it. A simple wellness journal to start the journey can provide many insights!
- Play! – Why is it that kids seem so carefree and happy? Well, one reason is they spend so much time playing and having fun. They prioritize play. Set aside some time each day to play like a kid—go for a bike ride, shoot some hoops, play a video game, draw, etc. Taking some time to have fun and forget your troubles, even just for a little bit, can have a big impact on your mental well-being.
- Get Outside – Human beings weren’t meant to be cooped up in a house or an office all day long. We’re creatures of nature, after all. Simply going outside and getting some fresh air can be beneficial to your health and mindset. Go for a jog. Take a walk. Go hiking. Or play in the dirt! Gardening is a great stress relief, is good for the environment, and the organisms present in soil can boost your immune system.
- Drink More Water – Water is essential to life. Dehydration can lead to all sorts of mental and physical problems. Be sure to drink ample water every day. The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends approximately 5 cups (3.7 liters) of water a day for men, and about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) a day for women.
- Practice Mindful Eating – Too often we eat food just because it’s there. Some call it “grazing.” Other times we eat way more than our body actually needs. That’s why it’s important to eat slowly and pay attention to what we’re putting into our bodies. Next time you’re at a restaurant, try cutting your meal in half and eating slowly. You may just find that you’re satisfied with eating less, and, as an added bonus, you can bring the remainder home to eat tomorrow.
- Listen to Music – Studies have shown that listening to music—particularly music we love—can boost our mental well-being by reducing stress and increasing your energy. So, go ahead—pop in those earbuds or pull out that old record and give it a spin!
- Practice Mindful Breathing – Sometimes something as simple as stopping to take a few deep breaths can lower your stress level and get you back on track. Each day, take a break to sit quietly and take a few long, deep breaths and pay attention to how you feel. If you use Microsoft Teams, check out the mindfulness exercises from Headspace.
- Turn Off the News – Have you ever felt good after watching the news? Being inundated with scenes of war, crime, fires, high gas prices, and other tragedies only amplifies your anxiety. Instead of worrying about things you can’t control, focus on what you can—first and foremost the remote control.
- Get More/Better Sleep – Every day we’re learning more and more about the positive health benefits of adequate, restful sleep. Sleep is the body and mind’s way of clearing out all the clutter to recharge you for the next day, and a host of hormones and proteins are released to boost your immune system and help your body heal. Put down your smartphone and get to bed early. Make sure your room is completely dark. Try to go to bed at the same time every night. Doing these things gives your body the ample rest it needs to prepare you for a better day tomorrow.
—Bethany Evans, Chief Performance Officer