It is so easy to say you will do better when it comes to taking care of yourself, but when the outside world takes over and work, family, bills and other pressures beckon, all your good intentions can fall by the wayside.
Not everyone can drop everything and swipe their card for an expensive spa day to forget their cares and troubles. And while the bottom of a bottle of vino seems like a good stress reliever, it comes at a price.
So, what are some practical ways you can improve your quality of life without breaking the bank or your back? We have you covered with ideas and small adjustments for your daily routine that are easy to stick to.
If you can’t get to all of them, give yourself a break — that’s kind of the point.
The great 20th-century philosopher Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” And Bueller was pretty well known for getting out there and experiencing all life had to offer, at least for one particular day.
We spend so much of our time indoors, in the car and on the couch, it’s a wonder we look at our surroundings at all. So to give yourself a boost, a great solution is to submerge yourself in the great outdoors. Or, in other words, take a hike!
A study detailed in The Atlantic found that taking walks in nature actually lessened depression and negative thinking patterns. Natural landscapes provide a sense of being away (like a mini vacay), as well as a sense of being at one with our planet, rather than separate and isolated.
Be your own best friend
How would you talk to yourself if you were someone else? If you actually stopped to write down all the negative self-talk, you might be surprised. More to the point, you wouldn’t stand for it if someone talked about your friend or children that way.
Plus, berating yourself can have ramifications if not corrected. Verywell Mind points out that being your own burn book can cause self-confidence issues, stress and, ultimately, depression.
If you want to be a kind friend to yourself, you can also be your own companion. Take yourself to dinner, a movie, a theater performance or a show. You can even plan a trip solo. It doesn’t have to be extravagant in five-star hotels — even a road trip can recharge your batteries.
Forbes notes that there are several benefits to going off the grid for a few days. Not only does it raise your happiness level, but it can create perspective about your troubles, increase your mental resilience and feed your creativity.
Turn off the screens
Every now and then you need to cut the cord. Well, don’t literally cut the cord — that would be quite expensive (especially if you own Apple products!), plus most everything is wirelessly charged these days.
However, you can’t recharge you if you are forever sucked into a glowing screen. Constantly looking at tech can be bad for both your mental and physical health.
According to the Washington Post, continuously staring at your phone can cause “text neck” and, besides being a serious pain, it can actually cause damage to your spine. For every inch your head bends forward, the pressure on the spine doubles. With a 12-pound head, that’s a lot to carry.
Staring at your computer for hours on end to check for a Twitter response or checking your bid on eBay can also be damaging to the eyes. According to Time, screens can cause computer vision syndrome, symptoms of which include eye issues and major headaches.
In addition, the constant bright light from a screen can also interrupt sleep patterns, according to Sleep.org . Tech gadgets can mess with your melatonin and disrupt your circadian rhythms, making it near impossible for a restful night’s sleep. And if there is anything that is imperative for self-care, it is good sleep.
Detoxing from social media can help your mental health, too. Social media has been called a public health crisis, so no wonder it can make it hard to relax. Plus, there is so much FOMO on any given day, you will wind up berating yourself for not being Chrissy Teigen — and we can’t all be Chrissy.
Take some time off from your gadget’s glow and enjoy the glow of the sun. Your mind, and body, will thank you for it.
Create a community
A wise saint — let’s call her Joan Jett — once said, “You don’t lose when you lose fake friends.” Amen, Joan. So many of us feel better when we are surrounded by people, but is any of it real? And does it do us any good? Your Facebook friend group may be full, but how many can you count on?
In order to have piece of mind, one needs to find their tribe. That means finding a real community. Whether this means branching out by going to Meetups, volunteering, finding a crafting buddy to get artsy with or taking classes to get your education on, there are lots of ways to meet like-minded people.
Laugh it out
According to NBC News, smiling can actually increase a chemical into the brain that helps you be happy. If that is the case, adding a full-on belly laugh to that must be like a basket full of kittens for the brain.
Take time out for a comedy movie marathon or take in a night of improv. Even reminiscing with friends about the silly things you did when you were young and foolish (only just last year!) can help relieve stress and reset your brain chemicals.
Plus, according to a CNN report, laughing is like yoga without the pesky movements. You take deep full breaths when you laugh (just like in savasana) that reduce stress and can be beneficial to the body and the brain.
So, slow down and leave space in your schedule to take a detour or have some lighthearted downtime. Stopping to chat and laugh with a friend or having a cup of tea together can go a long way to alleviating everyday anxiety.
Make a furry friend
They say that you’re nobody until some bunny loves you.
According to the Collective Hub, a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that animals could give your mood a boost, even if you aren’t feeling particularly lonely or depressed.
Just think about your online go-to — the funny cat video, which brings everyone so much joy — or the reaction in your body when you see a puppy fall into his food bowl. Pure joy.
Don’t have time to adopt your own furry critter or can’t have them in your place? You can still give your serotonin levels a boost by carving out some time to volunteer at a local shelter. Or visit a cat café and spend some time sipping a latte with a lovely kitten in your lap.