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Do you practice proper self-care? If you live in the US, you may not. A 2014 report found that many American workers feel stressed and unhappy at work. However, if you make time for self-care in your busy schedule, you can actually reduce that stress and improve your overall mental health.
Myths About Self-Care
What is self-care? In short, it’s simply taking care of yourself in ways that make you feel good. In fact, our minds and bodies require it. As this article from Best Kept Self states, at some point we stopped thinking about self-care as a necessity and started viewing it as an indulgence or a luxury. This is simply not true.
Psych Central lists several other common myths about self-care:
Self-care is optional.
It’s not. Without it, we increase our stress and overtax our physical health, putting us at risk of mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.
We have to earn self-care.
Have you ever said this: “Just one more hour of work and then I’ll relax”? We all have, but too often, the “then” never comes.
Self-care is selfish.
Actually, putting others first all the time means we won’t have enough gas in the tank to help them properly, and that would be worse.
Things You Can Do Today
Now, don’t get stressed about adding self-care into your routine. In fact, there are probably things you could be doing right now that you didn’t even know contributed to self-care. Here they are:
Taking Time To Relax
Even if you have a grueling workday, you should take “time outs” so you can relax. A great way to do this is to work in intervals. At Lifehack, writer Karol Krol shares his schedule of working for 50 minutes, breaking for 10, work another 50, then breaking for 30 and repeating the process. He states that these breaks actually help to make us more productive because our brains are not able to concentrate for longer than one to two hours at a time.
Another important tip is to find ways to reduce stress and incorporate these into your daily routines. They can include things like meditation, exercise, spending time in the sun, and enjoying music, among other things.
If you are lucky enough to have a dog, you have a friend that can help reduce your stress every day. Whether you’re petting him or playing with him, dogs can benefit their owners in several ways:
- They can lessen symptoms of depression.
- They increase the level of oxytocin in the brain, which increases trust and reduces fear.
- Contact with a dog can improve your blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety.
Learning to Say No
Often, we overcommit ourselves because we lack the resolve to tell people “no.” Whether it’s a loved one or a boss, we may feel pressured to say yes to everything because we don’t feel like we’re enough. The truth is that taking on too many obligations will overwhelm us, and that can lead to frequent failure.
Learning to say no, however, is a valuable skill. When you prioritize by your values, you end up being more productive at work and can show better attention to the people in your life. Learn how to create boundaries and to say no without offending others in this post from Remedy Grove.
Getting Enough Sleep
Did you know that all adults need at least seven hours of sleep? And that varies by person as well. Some people actually function better with eight hours of sleep. If you are getting to bed too late – or missing your bedtime too often – it’s time to create a plan to get back on track. Even if you work long hours, proper sleep will make you more productive, improve your memory, and focus your attention. Read more benefits of sleep at Health.com .
Depression and other mental health disorders can occur when you don’t take proper care of yourself. Integrate these overlooked methods of self-care into your life today and watch it improve.
This post was written by Brad Krauss at SelfCaring.info .