“Self–Care” is a relatively new concept that has transformed the way many of us view our own mental health. The self-care movement is defined in a number of ways, but one of the best ways comes from Psych Central, who describe self–care as “any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.”
What Does Self-Care Look Like?
Self-care looks different for everyone. It could be anything from an hour of meditation to a regularly scheduled nap—whatever refuels you. The more important question to ask is what self–care is NOT. If whatever you’re doing feels forced, if it makes you unhappy, if it is something that takes away rather than gives, it is not self–care.
Using Self-Care to Prompt Self Improvement
The two concepts go hand-in-hand. Despite the name, acts of self–care generally result in selfless behaviors. Often, those in need of self–care the most are people experiencing high stress from many areas of their lives. This could be an overworked employee facing imminent burnout or a busy parent fearful of disappointing his or her children. By taking the time to refuel, overwhelmed people have the opportunity to become better—not only for themselves, but also for the people they love.
Examples of Self-Care (And, In-Turn, Improvement) To Get You Started
As mentioned above, self–care looks different for everyone. The following list is meant to inspire, but the most important thing is to choose one (or more) activities that will personally refuel and re-energize your life.
Get insured. This important act of shifting responsibility off of yourself is number one on the list. Why? Because few life events cause more stress than an unexpected car accident, house fire, or injured customer at your store. This stress is immensely exacerbated by a lack of proper coverage. Rather than constantly worrying about the safety of your assets, invest in your future with an insurance policy you can trust.
Start meeting with a therapist. Thirty years ago, the idea of scheduling a therapy appointment might have caused crippling anxiety. The social stigmas associated with mental illness and seeking professional help made the entire industry seem like taboo. While those same stigmas are present today, leading psychology experts (with the help of younger-generation advocates) are effectively beginning to break down the common misconceptionstied to seeking counsel. Common reasons for scheduling a visit with a therapist, outside of diagnosed mental illnesses, include dealing with a life change, experiencing shifts in mood, poor sleeping patterns, and strained relationships. If any of those sound familiar, it’s because they are extremely common. Rather than letting societal norms hold you back from making a decision that could help you grow, do what is best for your emotional well–being and personal happiness.
Make a 30-Day Goal
If you would like to participate in Self-Improvement Month, set a 30-day goal for yourself. This goal can be anything that brings joy to your life, increases your productivity, or provides you with freedom from stress. Many of the items on the list below will help you achieve all three. Use our list to inspire your own goals, but remember to choose an activity that works best for you!
Start a workout plan. Take to Pinterest or any other corner of the internet for 30-day workout plans that you can do in your very own living room. Set the intention to do one workout from your chosen plan each day for a month.
Make (and stick to) a chore chart. There is a peace-giving quality to a freshly cleaned home. It is much easier to be overwhelmed when surrounded by clutter. Take the time to thoughtfully consider how much cleaning you can accomplish in a day, and make a schedule for yourself and your family. Make sure everyone sticks to the schedule for the entire month, and by then, it will be a set part of the daily routine.
Budget every dollar. This is an important one for those who struggle with financial stability. For many of us, despite the frequent increases in income throughout our lives, we still find ourselves living paycheck-to-paycheck. For one month, practice budgeting out every dollar you spend. Once you meet the spending cap for a specific category, make note of how long it took and what you could try differently next month to stretch each dollar.
Only eat home-cooked dinners. This goal has the potential to influence your finances, your health, and your family dynamics. Preparing home-cooked dinners with your loved ones is an excellent bonding experience. Pass on traditional family recipes to your children and allow them to assist. If you’re cooking for one, enjoy the time to unwind while treating yourself to something healthier than a paper-sack dinner on your way home from work. Pack your lunches and skip the over-priced coffee shops for an even more rewarding experience.
Journal every day. We spend the better part of each day communicating with countless people, but how often do we allow ourselves to be introspective? Taking 10-15 minutes to pour words onto a page is an excellent way to organize thoughts about the day, set intentions for the future, and document life events for later reading.
Compliment somebody every day. Make it a point to deliver gratitude or admiration to five people you encounter, each day. These can be close friends, family members, or the people standing next to you in line for coffee. The beauty of this challenge is that you’ll begin to notice the good in people, and in yourself, first.
Wake up early every morning. This will give you time to begin each day doing something you love. You can use this time to read, write, exercise, or cook yourself a hearty breakfast. If you are the type to regularly rush through your morning, you may wish to use this time to simply slow down your morning routine a bit. The options are endless when it comes to the gift of extra time.
Ban negative language such as the words “can’t” and “won’t” from your vocabulary. This goal might be more difficult than it sounds, but the results will be well worth it. Positive thinking increases serotonin levels, making us more joyful people. Avoiding words that instantly build roadblocks makes life’s goals more attainable.
Finish an entire book. Whether it is self-help or pleasure reading, immersing oneself in literature provides a momentary escape from reality. In addition to communication skills, reading improves attention and memory.
Make (and stick to) a consistent bedtime. Inconsistent sleeping patterns take a significant toll on the body’s natural chemical distribution. By creating a consistent sleeping schedule that is carried over into the weekend, the body will begin recognizing these patterns. Reset your internal clock and feel your best throughout the day by sticking to a bedtime and trying to achieve eight hours of sleep, each night.
Download our free printable of self-improvement challenges to remind yourself to take a break from the business of life and find joy.