MENTAL

Self-Care – More Than a Hashtag!


By Emily Spencer, MPH 

If you were asked whether you care for yourself you would probably answer, “Yes, of course I do! What a ridiculous question!” But, if you were asked to explain how, what would you say? Could you give concrete examples of what you do to take care of yourself? Maybe you would talk about exercise or about your diet. Those are great examples and our physical health is so important! But, what about your mental and emotional health? 

You’ve probably heard the term self-care but do you know what it really means? Maybe you’ve seen a photo of a woman in a face mask or lounging in a bath tub with the caption #SelfCareSunday. Or perhaps you’ve heard it used sarcastically like when your coworker is joking about their weekend pizza binge. But what is self-care? Can it be face masks and pizza? Self-care is more than just a hashtag or a buzzword; self-care is any activity that we take part it deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, or physical health. Self-care needs to be something that refuels you, not something that takes from you. So maybe self-care can be a face mask and a pizza or it can be going for a walk with your significant other or spending 10 minutes of your lunch break meditating. You’ve got to find something that you enjoy and that works for you! Self-care is not selfish; it is taking time for yourself to take care of you and your needs so that you can take better care of others or perform your best at work. 

Here are some great self-care examples if you’re looking for a place to start! 

  • Get enough sleep! This is so much easier said than done, but it is so important! Adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night to function at their best and children and teens need even more! Are you struggling to lose weight when you feel like you’re doing everything right? It could be lack of sleep that is holding you back! Not getting enough sleep can put your body in a state of stress, even if you don’t feel stressed, which will push your body to hold onto excess fat!

     

  • Create a clean space. Clutter can be incredibly distracting both at work and at home. Work to keep your desk organized and clean; utilize your draw space instead of pilling files on your desk or get a drawer organizer for office supplies so you don’t have to fish to find a pen! At home, try to start with small things that make your home feel more clean and calming. Maybe it’s taking a few minutes to make your bed in the morning or having a clean kitchen! Find what works for you!

     

  • Spend time outside! Green space is so important for mental health! Multiple studies have shown that short term exposure to nature can be psychologically restorative and can also have a positive influence on mood and emotions. Try to spend at least ten minutes outside per day when the weather allows; go for a short walk or eat your lunch outside! You could also get a plant for your desk or office. There are plenty of low maintenance plants to choose from such as snake plants, aloe, and English ivy!

     

  • Take some time for yourself. Set aside some time each day that is just for you! Maybe it’s that 10 minute walk outside or 30 minutes before bed to read a good book. You deserve to take at least a few minutes for yourself! As with all of these examples, find something that you enjoy and that rejuvenates you!

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