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  • Writer's pictureMarie @RedLotusFloat

Ten Ways to Improve Your Self-Care

First things first, let's talk about what 'self-care' is and isn't. What it is NOT is selfish, self-indulgent, or reckless. It is the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's

well-being and happiness. I am not talking about over-popularized and expensive spa days or trips to Italy. While those are lovely and can fit into a version of self-care, we will discuss more practical applications in this article. It is important to the overall quality of your life.

1. Schedule regular "me time" where you prioritize your own needs and desires.

Many of us have become overcommitted and overwhelmed. As one of our customers told me, "We should be giving from our surplus, not our core!" Put your mask on first to borrow the tried and true airline script.

2. Make sure to get enough sleep each night to feel rested and rejuvenated.

What is 'enough' sleep will vary for each person, but if you are dragging until you have had copious amounts of caffeine, you need more. Many documented studies show the connection between increased cortisol and decreased health with inadequate sleep.

So, set a bedtime, cut back on the afternoon lattes, or institute any other changes necessary to get a good night's sleep.

3. Incorporate exercise into your routine to boost your energy levels and mood.

We all know that exercise is good for us, but sometimes we place a very narrow view on what exercise consists of. Shouldn't anything that gets that magnificent body of yours moving count?

The best exercise is the one you will do. Find what is right for you - rollerblading? Tia Chi? Pickleball? Swimming? Walking? Golf? Hiking? I could go on and on, but you get the jist, find something.

4. Develop healthy stress management methods.

Stress, in and of itself, is not the problem. The drain on our health arises from faulty stress management. Like the example above with exercise, the most effective skills are the ones you practice and use. If journalling is your thing, do it! If it isn't, try something else - meditation, prayer, yoga, floating, infrared sauna, talk therapy, reading, hitting baseballs or golf balls, etc. Find your Zen!

5. Eat a balanced and nutritious diet to fuel your body and mind.

Everyone's diet is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all regarding food. However, increasing fresh veggies and water and decreasing empty calorie food and sugary drinks is always a safe bet.

6. Set boundaries with others to protect your time and energy.

Say No when you mean NO and Yes when you mean Yes. It sounds simple, but we can easily fall into the trap of telling people what they want to hear at our own expense. Giving yourself some time to answer the request of others offers you a moment to contemplate what you want or need at any given time.

7. Practice self-compassion and positive self-talk.

Challenge yourself to listen to your self-talk. Are you talking to yourself with compassion or kindness? Do you speak to yourself as you would someone you love, admire, and respect? If not - clean it up!

There are lots of books out there on this subject. Here are two amazing ones - You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay and The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.

8. Connect with loved ones and build a supportive network.

Study after study has proven the positive effects of a strong network of loving and supportive people in your life. Create your own if you don't have a naturally occurring family like this. Build a network of like-minded people that bring joy and support into your life. If you are lucky enough to have a strong support system, nurture it with your time and attention.

9. Take breaks and allow yourself to rest when needed.

We all have the same 24 hours in a day. It is easy to fall into the trap of doing 'just one more' task before taking a break. Our brains and bodies need a break from time to time. Stretch, take a deep breath, move rooms, step outside, soak up some nature, or set a five-minute timer for a little social media scroll. Whatever you can do to reset yourself for the next task.

10. Engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment, whether reading, painting, or hiking.

At the risk of sounding repetitive, sometimes we need a reminder that Fun is not a four-letter word!

Stop putting yourself off. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Make that lunch date with friends, hike the trail, paint the painting, play with the kids, take that class, write the book - find what fills you with joy, and do it.

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