There are so many overpriced and over-complicated self-care products and systems out there these days. Today, I want to highlight some of the ways we can all do wellness simply and purposefully.
Because even if you can’t afford a $349 Oura Ring, I’m sure you want to maintain the best health possible.
Here are 10 very special self-care habits.
1. Give More Hugs
A hug can reduce cortisol. Better known as a stress hormone, cortisol, it turns out, can also have a positive (calming) effect on us. A hug can deactivate the part of the brain that responds to threats making you feel safe. Another calming hormone that the body produces when we reach out and touch, is oxytocin. Considered the "love hormone," oxytocin is released through touch, music, and exercise. The feelings of connection that you get from them are highs worth chasing, IMO.
Hug the kids in your life, your friends, your parents, your SO, and all your loved ones more often.
2. Have a Daily Walking Routine
Walking boosts your metabolism and counters the effects of weight-promoting genes. Walking is also a great stress reliever. To get the most transformative benefits from walking, I ask my clients to walk every day, which I do as well. It doesn’t matter so much how many miles we walk or for how long, what matters most, is having a daily walking practice.
3. Get Fresh Air Every Day
Another important daily habit is getting fresh air. It helps the airways of your lungs to dilate more fully and helps you to get more oxygen into your lungs. It improves your heart rate, your blood pressure, and is very good for your mental health. Getting fresh air into your lungs can make you feel more energetic within minutes.
4. Unplug an Hour Before Bed
Our brains need time to unplug and before bed is the best time to do it. When you get into the habit of putting your phone on Do Not Disturb mode before bed, you train your “brain” that it too should shut off. Your body will also start producing melatonin “on schedule,” which will improve the quality of your sleep and the functioning of your brain.
5. Plug Into Positive Content
There are TV channels, podcasts, social media feeds, and websites dedicated to positive news, uplifting messages, comedy, and impactful content. A few we like are - Good News Network, The Skimm, Comedy Central, and Goodniks podcast. Consume more positive content so that your entertainment not only entertains but leaves you feeling positive too.
6. Play Energetic Music
Music is scientifically proven to uplift and improve our well-being. It can help you concentrate while you work or study, and research has found that listening to and playing music increase the body’s production of the antibody immunoglobulin (a key factor in the body’s immune function). Music also helps to reduce harmful levels of cortisol. The benefit of energetic music is that it makes you want to sit less. The sedentary lifestyle we now lead is having a deflating effect on our energy and our mood. To counter that, walking and standing more will help, and playing energetic music is more likely to get you on your feet.
The smell of a scent can lift your mood and energize you, making it a great way to practice self-care. Rosemary, lemon, lavender, cinnamon, pine, and rose scents each have their own effect on our senses (calming vs. invigorating, for example). Since each scent has its own beneficial properties, experiment to find the ones that are best for you. Grow aromatic herbs for cooking, buy flowers with a pleasing fragrance, and use room sprays and diffusers as well as lotions and soaps that thrill your senses.
A 10-minute meditation practice will help you develop a close relationship with your wiser self. There are many science-backed studies (with MRI proof) attesting to the long list of benefits of meditation, but my favorite benefit is the increased self-compassion it helps you build.
9. Go to bed by 10:30
For some people, being a night owl doesn't affect them all that much. Some people even thrive on that schedule. For musicians and some creative people, being a night owl is the only sleep cycle that makes sense for them. But there are many people who consider themselves night owls even though they live and work in industries with a standard 9-5 schedule. People who have a 9-5 but stay up late most nights are at risk of developing several health impairments including early onset Alzheimers.
If your sleep schedule is within your control, go to bed by 11:00 pm to give your brain the full sleep cycle it needs to imprint memories, repair cells, and form healthy new neural pathways.
10. Check in with yourself throughout the day
We get so busy that a bad mood can sneak up on us. That’s because we haven’t learned to self-regulate. Andrea Bell from GoodTherapy.org has a great definition of self-regulation: It’s “control of oneself by oneself.” When you get into the habit of checking in with yourself at least a couple of times a day, you can take care of your needs in time. Overlooked physical and emotional needs can cause us to be reactive and lose control. Make the time to tune in to how you're feeling so you can take care of yourself sooner.