In recent years, the term “self-care” has been used more and more. But what does it actually mean? According to the Oxford Dictionary, self-care is the “practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.” We know that we should avoid stress as much as possible, but that’s easier said than done, especially when things happen outside of your control. This is where the handy tool of self-care comes in. Understanding it and realizing its importance is one thing, but how can you really put it into practice?
If you’ve found yourself with some extra free time lately, here are some simple ways you can best use your me-time for beneficial self-care:
##Communicate Self-care doesn’t have to mean shutting out others. Why not take some time to build new relationships or pick up neglected ones? Try making a list of the people you owe an overdue call or check-in, and then do just that. It will probably put a smile on both your faces. It’s also easier than ever to build new connections. Try joining an online community, your local Freeletics Facebook group or join one of our live workouts on our Instagram channel to connect with like-minded people.
You could also take time to communicate with yourself. Starting a bullet journal or a thought journal can be a great way to not only get creative, but also document important events, thoughts and feelings over time. Keeping a well-organized bullet journal can be extremely satisfying, not to mention useful for everyday life. Plus, you can keep lists of all your favorite self-care activities for the next time you have a free slot in your calendar.
##Get crafty If you find yourself with some extra free time, what better way to spend it than by exploring your hobbies? Channeling energy and emotions into creativity can be very therapeutic and can have some beautiful results. Whether it’s a DIY project, photography, arts and crafts, writing or baking, find something that soothes your mind and puts a smile on your face, then do it as often as you can.
##Consume consciously The content you consume is similar to the food you eat. You wouldn’t base your diet on junk that doesn’t do your body any good, so why would you do the same with the content you consume? If you find the constant stream of news, social media or WhatsApp messages leaving you feeling stressed or anxious, take a break.
The things you read and watch can have an immense impact on the way you feel. So ask yourself whether the content you are feeding your brain is the optimal diet for your mental wellbeing. If reducing your news consumption, muting some chats or limiting your time spent scrolling through social media will leave you feeling that little bit lighter, do it.
##Find some peace Meditation is a classic tool for clearing your mind and dealing with anxious thoughts. When the world is feeling a bit too much, it’s a fantastic way to bring your mind into a quiet and peaceful space. When practiced over time, it can also help you to deal with unexpected situations in a more calm and mindful way. You don’t need to carve out 20 minutes a day for meditation either. Even just finding a few minutes for it can have a positive impact on your mood and mindset.
If you are looking for more ways to incorporate quiet time into your routine, breathing and stretching exercises can be very effective tools against stress and anxiety. Like meditation, they don’t need to take up a lot of your day and are easy to incorporate into your daily routine. Other ideas for calming activities include reading, walking and finding a new favourite podcast.
##Craft a habit So often we’re too busy to stick to our healthy habits. Cooking, regular workouts, meditation, they can all get deprioritized and swept under the rug during our busy lives. But if you are spending more time at home and find yourself with more spare time on your hands, this is the perfect opportunity to bring your habits back on track.
Why not make a start on that morning ritual you’ve been meaning to make a habit? Or perhaps now is the time to start a sleep schedule, so that you can start waking up feeling refreshed and ready for the new day. Or, you could start building new daily routines, incorporating time for activities that contribute to your physical and mental wellbeing, such as workouts, runs, walks, meditation, yoga or stretching.
It’s not just our schedules that can get messy thanks to our hectic lives. Try using some spare time to organize your spaces. Whether it’s clearing out the office, deciding what sparks joy or finally decorating your home the way you’ve been meaning to all this time, making your space work for you and give you positive energy is the best way to start a habit of keeping your home neat and organized.
##Be productive There are so many things we could be doing with our time that we just keep putting off. But when you have the luxury of free time, why not use it to be productive and tick things off that to-do list. Learn a new skill or language, tackle that project or pile of paperwork you’ve been putting off, or do some spring cleaning and donate what you don’t need. Whether it’s an online course or some skill progression to really nail that exercise you’ve been struggling with, being productive with your time can be intensely rewarding and can keep your mind from worrying about things beyond your control.
But don’t get us wrong - you shouldn’t feel pressured to be productive all the time. If relaxing and doing nothing is what you are craving and what will help you de-stress, give yourself the time to do just that. You don’t have to be improving yourself every second of the day.
##Indulge yourself Last but not least, one of the most common forms of self-care is indulging in something. It’s totally fine to treat yourself, if that’s what will bring your mood back up. Work through a list of your favorite films, books or TV shows. Indulge on a delicious treat, or even just take a hot bath and give yourself a manicure. Whether big or small, the things you do for yourself should all have a positive impact on your mindset and put a smile on your face.
Self-care might feel like a buzzword, but it is a legitimate tool you can use to help improve your physical and mental wellbeing. Aim for a good balance between sleep, physical activity, relaxation, focus and connecting with people, even if it’s just virtually. And in times of stress or anxiety, don’t forget to be kind to yourself. You should be your number one priority, and it’s totally fine to carve out time to devote to yourself and what you need. In fact, we completely encourage it.