5 Superb Ways to Practice Self-Care

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There’s nothing selfish about taking time to relax, recharge, and ready yourself for the future. When you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, sad, or anxious, try treating yourself with one of these self-care exercises:


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Prepare Food Ahead of Time

Having trouble motivating yourself to make healthy meals and snacks during the week when you’re busy, stressed, and tired? Take an hour or two when you have the time and energy to plan and prepare your meals. There’s lots you can do to save time and energy on food prep during the week, like:

  • Planning your dinner menu for the week to ensure you have all the needed ingredients.

  • Making a soup or stew in the crockpot and freezing individual portions that can be quickly reheated.

  • Preparing fresh vegetables, putting them in Ziplock bags and keeping them in the fridge for quick snacks.

  • Making one healthy meal – such as chicken, rice, and broccoli – and portioning it out into a few days’ worth of lunches. Store your pre-packed lunches in either the fridge or freezer depending on how long your food will keep.

You’ll feel much better knowing you have healthy, tasty food packed and ready to go whenever you need it, and you’ll save money and guilt by not having to resort to grabbing a burger and fries when you’re too tired to cook.

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Move Your Body

Exercise has proven benefits for both mind and body that go way beyond aesthetics. Making regular exercise a habit can be incredibly therapeutic – but only if you don’t view it as a chore. You don’t have to spend an hour sweating in the gym to enjoy the benefits of exercise. You can get moving by:

  • Taking a walk around the block. (While you’re at it, try practicing some mindfulness techniques!)

  • Lifting weights while you watch TV.

  • Doing 1 minute of jumping jacks first thing in the morning to help you wake up.

  • Following along with a yoga YouTube video.

  • Doing a few minutes of stretches when you get out of the shower.

  • Walking or riding a bicycle instead of driving to the store.

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Read for Pleasure

Don’t worry about whether or not physical copies of books are “superior” to e-books, or about how someone once told you your favorite genre is vapid and unserious. Read whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want. Expand your mind, take a quick vacation in a fictional world, and don’t apologize for it.

  • Revisit some old paperbacks from your childhood.

  • Dive into a cheesy romance novel.

  • Read a memoir by someone you admire.

  • Check out the current fiction bestsellers and see if anything appeals to you.

  • Read an interesting article on the Internet about a topic that’s unfamiliar to you.

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Feel Your Feelings

In the hustle and bustle of your hectic life, you don’t always get the chance to feel your feelings. A lot of the time, you have to be strong and get things done. Don’t underestimate the benefit of taking some time to connect with your emotions.

  • Talk to your partner, your therapist, or a trusted friend about your feelings. If you’re looking for someone to just listen without offering suggestions, don’t be afraid to let them know.

  • Write in a journal, in a Word document, on a scrap of paper – it doesn’t matter where, just write. Write what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling, and what you want. When you’re done, you can either keep your writing to look back on later, or destroy it.

  • Cry it out! Nothing releases emotional tension quite like a good cry session. Whether all you’ve got in you is a single stoic tear or 10 minutes of snotty, red-eyed, chest heaving ugly crying, let it out.

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Cancel Plans

Like comedian John Mulaney said, “In terms of instant relief, canceling plans is like heroin.” Obviously you don’t want to make a habit of canceling plans, but you’ve got to admit, there’s little that feels better than the moment you commit to bailing on an event that was stressing you out.

So if you’re feeling overwhelmed and there’s an obligation you can wriggle out of without straining your relationships (say, a house party with lots of attendees and for which you’re not the guest of honour), go for it. Make your apologies, reschedule, and then put your jammies back on, plop down on the couch, and enjoy your fresh, clean, totally unscheduled block of time. Ahh, freedom.

Jul 15, 2014