Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind and spirit.

Do you remember being 12 and wishing that you would close your eyes and be 21 an adult who can drive, work, vote etc? … well I do and now that I am 33 I realise how silly I was as adulting is hard and whoever does not agree has never really been an adult. Between work, house chores. relationships, shopping, exercising and all the time it takes for proper grooming, our calendars become inundated with to-do lists, which inevitably leaves us feeling stressed. When we’re stressed, self-care is usually the first thing to go.

We probably may find it hard to even recognize the importance of self-care. And even if we are told by many people around us to take care of ourselves we usually brush this off – I know I am guilty of this so I take the opportunity here to apologise to those friends who have continuously advised me to take it easy when they see me overstressed.

As women, we are so busy taking care of everything and everyone in our lives that we often neglect to take care of ourselves. Most of us have been conditioned to believe that the more productive we are, the bigger the reward. And it’s true, productivity pays off, but not when we’re left feeling burnt out in a ball of anxiety, with everyone else’s needs met but our own. Recently I have become better at dealing with stress and with what my body and mind need so here are a few tips which have really helped me out.

1. Listen to Your Body

Have you ever been so hungry that your entire body is aching and your mind feels so clouded because of the hunger that you can barely think? But you force yourself to finish your work before you allow yourself to eat? Be honest here how many times have you done this? Or have you ever felt the urge to go to the bathroom but held it in so you could finish a task? … I have learnt that I need to stop ignoring what my body tells me. Our bodies are constantly communicating to us what they need and it’s up to us to listen. Pay close attention to how your body feels and take care of it. Are you feeling sore sitting at your desk? Get up and stretch. Is your stomach growling? Keep some nuts or a yoghurt handy so you can just quickly have something healthy to eat. Do you have a headache? Take a break from staring at your screen … It starts with you!

2. Let’s Get Physical (not the song)

Ok I can already feel some of you raising an eyebrow – seriously she’s telling us to go break a sweat everyday that is so cliché, but it’s an absolute must. I think what makes regular exercise so hard is that when most people think of exercise they think of self-sacrifice and drudgery. I myself have had a love hate relationship for a very long time. Starting from my PE lessons at school where the school mean girls made the PE lesson horrible for the chubby girl. However I have started exercising 1 hour a day and since then everything in my life has improved – my mood; my self esteem; my stress levels are a few examples.

Here are some ideas:

    • Shop around for an exercise class that you enjoy. Try cycling, Zumba, Hip Hop, pole dancing, etc. Don’t stop until you find a class that feels like you. What works for me may not necessarily work for you.

    • Join a sports team if you’d rather do a group activity – 2 of my closest friends play volleyball (Adriana and Analisse )its a way for them to form bonds whilst exercising and it has worked for them.

  • Team up with a friend and go power walking; swimming or jogging – make it a fun part of your day – I went walking with my friend Andrea a few times it always brightens my day.

3. A Sleeping Routine

When I was a university student I was notorious night owl. I used to love watching television series in bed, flipping through social media, and looking up recipes before I fall asleep. I used to call my university friends boring because they preferred sleeping but one thing I have learned (the hard way) over the years is that getting enough quality sleep is vital for my mental and physical health. Part of being an adult is acknowledging what I need and doing it (insert deep sigh). And even though I miss falling asleep to Friends reruns every night I feel so much better in the morning.

Here’s how to set up a sleep routine:

    • Set a bedtime that allows between 8-10 hours of sleep

    • Make your bedroom very dark and quiet (every inch of my bedroom is covered in blackout curtains – i kid you not!)

    • Leave all electronics in another room

    • Don’t have a heavy meal exactly before bed time

  • Do some breathing exercises or have some herbal tea to be able to relax before bed time

4. Accept Compliments

Most of us are fluent in self-criticism. How many times have you looked in the mirror and thought – oh my god I look fat today? or my hair looks like a broom today? or refused to go out because of the horrible zit that has magically appeared on your face? To counter act this negative voice try creating a compliments file by documenting the great things people say about you. It could be positive feedback on your work performance, compliments from your partner or best friend, or even things you like about yourself. Pull out the file as often as you need to and remind yourself how awesome you are. It may sound cheesy…because it is! But it also feels great and is a simple way to offer yourself some love and care.

5. Unplug Everyday

When you get home from work try switching your phone to airplane mode and checking out from the vortex that is email and social media. Start with 30 minutes a day and try to build up from there. This will give you a chance to intentionally transition out of your workday and into your home environment. Do something caring for yourself like stretching, snuggling your pet, or expressing gratitude for the things you have in your life but do it in real life not through the digital world

6. Get rid of toxic people

We all have that one toxic person in our life – that person who is selfish; and only thinks about themselves or the one who is so self centred that whatever you tell this person it always ends up being about them. These people add extra stress to our already stressful lives – do yourself a favour – your future self will thank you a few years down the line – get rid of toxic relationships sooner rather than later.

7. Get someone to help with the house

In this day and age everyone works long hours – I work on average 55 hours a week, and then i need to make time to exercise; to do the shopping; to plan my meals as now I am no longer on Plan H. Having someone I can trust help with the house chores has reduced stress levels immensely the house is clean on most days and I dont spend the few hours off I have at home cleaning – at least I can truly enjoy my house that way.

8. Laugh as much as you can

Laughing is, and will always be, the best form of therapy. Laugh as hard and as often as possible. Watch comedies. Read funny books. Share funny stories. Watch your favorite comedian on YouTube. Create your own comedy night with friends. Surround yourself with funny people. It will literally lift your spirits (laughter releases feel good hormones like dopamine and endorphins), reduce your stress, and boost your energy. Personally I love pulling up YouTube videos of Ellen DeGeneres and the adorable kids she has on her shows. It immediately brightens my mood and elicits feelings of happiness and delight.

9. Stop listening to your Inner Critique

We all have one, that nagging, mean inner critical voice. And we all need to send her on a fabulous vacation (after all, she works hard, to keep us in line) and tell her to leave us alone. I think it’s fair to say we all struggle with some degree of self-hatred and for some these feelings may feel full-bodied and undeniable. That doesn’t mean that you allow yourself to go down that road. Your job in that moment is to put down the thread of inner criticism and walk away. Your job is to insist on treating yourself with kindness and respect. This is the ultimate form of self-care.

10. Make Time To Play

Just like children, adults need play. A lot of times adults can’t even list the things they like to do for fun because they are so far removed from being able to identify what they truly enjoy. If this is you here are some steps to follow:

    • First, sit down and make a list of the things that you enjoyed doing as a kid. Then go over your list and highlight those things that still sound appealing.

    • Google “fun ideas for adults” or “bucket list ideas.” This will help you generate ideas of things you want to try.

    • Create a play drawer and fill it with jigsaw puzzles, coloring books for adults, play dough (there’s play dough for adults now but the kid stuff works great too), LEGOS, watercolors, etc.

  • Schedule time to play. Plug it into your calendar and give yourself the much-needed playtime you deserve.

What are some of your favorite ways to take care of yourself? Share with us in the comments below!

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