In our fast-paced society, it becomes so easy to put ourselves and our well being on the back burner. Extended periods of putting yourself last, however, can lead to increased feelings of stress, anxiety, and overall unhappiness. Practice these top self-care acts to manage stress levels and avoid “burn out.”
Enjoy Some Sunshine
According to Dr. Richardson of the University of Derby, being outside and enjoying nature is linked to reduced cases of hypertension, anxiety, and illness. Research also shows that those who spend time outdoors enjoy a better mood, an increased sense of life satisfaction, lessened mental fatigue, and more overall happiness (1).
Breathe In. Breathe out.
Tuning into your breathing to be a key component to practicing self-care and mindfulness. In a stressful moment, take an exaggerated breath: a deep inhale through your nostrils, hold for two seconds, and then exhale slowly. A study done by Berkeley University found that participants that practiced mindful breathing for 15 minutes experienced less negative emotions (2).
Breathe In. Breathe out. (some good smelling stuff!)
The practice of inhaling “some good smelling stuff” is more formally known as aromatherapy – a practice in which one inhales the aromas of essential oils. This practice has been used for nearly 6,000 years as a means of therapy and healing. It is believed that aromatherapy works through your smell receptors communicating with the parts of your brain that have the ability to induce emotions, feelings, and memories (3).
Rising in popularity, yoga has many benefits – both physical and mental. Yoga encourages one to relax, slow their breathing, and focus on the present. The calm that this brings, many feel, is restorative and essential to a self-care program.
Step Away From the Screen
We are a technology-driven society. For most of us, our day is spent primarily on a computer, followed by time spent in front of a TV and scrolling through the latest updates on our social newsfeeds on our phones. While technology has benefits, it can also be harmful and draining. A study conducted by Stanford University found that extended technology exposure could be linked to fewer feelings of happiness and increased occurrences of social awkwardness (4).
Eat Your Fruits and Veggies
Foods high in antioxidants and healthy fats have been shown to support brain health and function, which is key to your overall mental well being. Enjoy food such as blueberries, walnuts, avocado, olive oil, almonds, and spinach to support your brain health. Studies also show that a diet comprised of seven servings of fruits and veggies has a strong positive influence on one’s overall happiness (5).
Get Enough Sleep
Whether your life obligations are keeping you up late or you’re staying up to enjoy a little bit of “me” time at the end of a long day, sleep deprivation can impact your health negatively. A lack of sleep can lead one to feel tense, less productive, and sluggish – all of which can make your “feel good” mood come to screeching halt. Focus on getting at least eight hours of sleep as part of your self-care routine and to be the best you each and every day!
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1. Coles, Jeremy. “How nature is good for our health and happiness.” BBC. BBC, 20 Apr. 2016. Web. 24 July 2017.
2. Arch, J. J., and M. G. Craske. “Mechanisms of mindfulness: emotion regulation following a focused breathing induction.” Behaviour research and therapy. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 7 Feb. 2006. Web. 24 July 2017.
3. “Aromatherapy.” University of Maryland Medical Center. N.p., 9 Aug. 2011. Web. 24 July 2017.
4. Richtel, Matt. “Does Technology Affect Happiness?” The New York Times. The New York Times, 25 Jan. 2012. Web. 24 July 2017.
5. Blanchflower, David, Andrew Oswald, and Sarah Stewart-Brown. “Is Psychological Well-being Linked to the Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables?” Warwick Economic Research Papers (2012): n. pag. Web. 24 July 2017.