Posted by DaVinci Healthcare Expert on Oct 13, 2021 1:52:16 PM
Sometimes the idea of self-care—the practice of taking time to nourish one’s own mind and body—can actually feel overwhelming and exhausting. Life has so many moving parts to keep up with, and juggling the responsibilities of work, family, finances, and other daily tasks might leave you feeling like self-care is out of reach.
But when it comes to taking care of ourselves, it’s important to find habits that fit into our lives without becoming another stressor. While it might sound like a great idea, most people don’t have an extra hour every day to indulge in a yoga class, for example. At DaVinci, we focus on an integrative approach to health and wellness—pinpointing self-care strategies that work for you is a massive piece of the puzzle, and we are here to help.
If taking a big chunk of time for self-care practices isn’t always feasible, you can fit the following practices into other activities and truly feel a difference in your emotional and mental state.
If you struggle to say “no,” you are far from alone. Women in particular struggle with the impulse to help and support others, often putting their own needs last. Mastering the emotional skill of saying “no” and setting limits might not feel easy at first, but it is an essential self-care skill for overall wellbeing.
As social creatures, humans naturally seek acceptance from their peers. Feeling like you’ve disappointed or hurt someone feels uncomfortable, which can prompt you to say “yes” to requests or invitations that you’d rather decline.. Depending on your family history, you may have felt a constant need to accommodate others or keep the peace. This might lead to an adult habit of being inclined to say “yes” to everyone.
In reality, occasionally saying “no” to commitments, social engagements, or requests for help is perhaps the most effective form of self-care you can practice. It opens space for rest, lets you pick and choose the engagements and activities that are truly fulfilling, and allows you to regularly recognize and set boundaries with friends, family, and acquaintances.
Saying “no” politely and firmly might sound like this:
Try to avoid falling into the trap of saying “maybe,” as this often becomes a “yes” that you intended to be a “no,” which can create more tension and add stress to a situation.
Research solidly shows the association between screen time and lower psychological health among adults, teenagers, and younger children. Addiction to technology is increasingly prevalent and takes us away from essential self-care practices like reading, journaling, playing music, taking up hobbies, and spending quality time with our friends and family (screen-free).
People are increasingly discovering the healing benefits of regular technology fasts, which naturally lay the foundation for self-care. Perhaps this looks like a 24-hour period once a week, or a 12-hour fast. Use this time to linger on creative outlets, time with your family, alone time, or anything else you’ve been neglecting due to a constantly buzzing phone. It's also a great opportunity to take a break from the potential dangers of blue light exposure.
Set the stage for success by letting people know they can contact you on a landline in case of emergency. Dig out your old wristwatch if you need to check the time. If your first tech fasts feel challenging, don’t worry—that’s to be expected. It will get easier, and your emotional and mental health will reap the benefits.
When was the last time you went out with a friend? If it’s been a while, consider the incredible benefits of prioritizing time with friends, according to the Mayo Clinic:
Try to schedule a regular in-person or phone date with a friend. Whether it’s once a week or once a month, put it on your calendar and treat it like a doctor’s appointment or work deadline (though remember that it will be a lot more fun).
Do you have a running internal dialogue of negative self-talk? If so, it might not be entirely conscious. Negative self-talk is often an inner voice criticizing your physical appearance, performance, intelligence, or worth. Learning to recognize this voice and shift it from negative to positive is a form of self-care that can significantly increase your quality of life, boost your immune system, and reduce stress and boost brain health.
Here are several examples of negative self-talk and how they can be turned around:
Negative: I embarrassed myself.
Positive: I’m proud of myself for trying.
Negative: I’m overweight and can’t even climb a flight of stairs.
Positive: I am strong and capable of change and want a happy and healthy life.
Negative: This will never work.
Positive: I’m going to give it my absolute best.
The self-care practice of positive self-talk isn’t necessarily something that you’ll master overnight. If negative self-talk has been an ingrained form of thinking for many years, Speaking with a therapist can help.
You don’t need to go on a ten-day meditation retreat to reap the benefits of deep breathing and meditation. Deep breathing for just five minutes has been shown to trigger the body’s relaxation response and boost mental and emotional wellbeing.
Simply put, deep belly (diaphragmatic) breathing means that your stomach should fill up with air on the inhale and deflate on the exhale. Most of us tend to take shallow chest breaths in a stressed state, and shallow breathing does not elicit the same relaxation response. Strive to fit a few minutes of deep breathing in while waiting at a red light, during a meeting, or right before you walk into your house after a day of work. It can also be effective to practice deep breathing before bed, as it supports melatonin production.
Remember, you can’t effectively take care of others if you shelf your own needs. Self-care shouldn’t be considered a luxury. Instead, think of self-care as necessary to be a healthy, happy, compassionate, and productive member of a family and society.
Instead of throwing self-care to the wayside when life gets busy, find strategies that can integrate into your daily routines. Whether it’s one of these five self-care ideas or something else, your mental and emotional health must be considered a high priority.
 Twenge, J. M., & Campbell, W. K. (2018). Associations between screen time and lower psychological well-being among children and adolescents: Evidence from a population-based study. Preventive medicine reports, 12, 271–283. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2018.10.003
 Ma, X., Yue, Z. Q., Gong, Z. Q., Zhang, H., Duan, N. Y., Shi, Y. T., Wei, G. X., & Li, Y. F. (2017). The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults. Frontiers in psychology, 8, 874. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00874
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