In the daily race that we all participate in to make your lives better and more comfortable, we neglect the most important component and the number one prerequisite for a happier life: ourselves. In fact, you would be surprised how many unhealthy habits you engage everyday without even knowing it: from watching too much TV to eating that extra cup of pudding before you go to bed.
All those motivational quotes and self-help books may be repetitive and sometimes considered obsolete, but the idea that lies at their foundation is still of the uttermost importance: you need to take better care of yourself because, cheesy or not, your body is still your forever-home and a vessel. Intuitive or not, let’s explore some of the most and least conventional self care practices that might be doing you more harm than good.
The Online Saga
We live in the era of the internet, and that’s both the best and the worst thing that could have happened to us. The access to almost endless free information is a few keystrokes and clicks away, but so is intoxicating information that affects our well-being more than you know.
And it’s not just the endless pit of toxic social media comments: it’s also the TV that’s poisoning our brains, with rarely any truly good news being shared on most channels. The more you expose yourself to negativity, the more likely you are to adopt a pessimistic mindset.
We suggest an exercise: try to last for one day without any social media, or reading any of the news. See how you feel. If you don’t miss it that much, repeat the experiment, but this time, for two days. If you want to talk to a friend, don’t use social media messaging apps: use text messages. Call. Get together for coffee. And don’t worry, we’ve got the whole friend thing covered later on.
Be the Best, Prepare for the Worst
This may contradict a bit what we’ve just told you at the previous step, but you have to filter out some stuff to always be prepared for the worst. World-famous psychologist Jordan Peterson said that good people don’t survive for very long.
Because of their good and always kind nature, they can never really be prepared for the evil that is out there, and when confronted with it, they can’t stand up to it. They don’t know how to fight, because they can’t conceive of the fact that there is so much evil in the world.
There is a very tricky line between not reading the news at all and reading all of it in order to be prepared for what’s out there. Sometimes, even exposing a kid who is old enough to understand certain things to disturbing news is a way of telling them they need to look after themselves. Being selfish may sound like a bad thing, but it’s how you survive.
Basking in the Sun
One of the biggest mistakes that we make is to check our phones the second we open our eyes in the morning. Honestly, the first thing that you should do when you wake up is to get out of bed, open the bedroom window, and just sit there in the sun for about five minutes.
Natural sunlight regulated your melatonin levels, making it easier for you to get out of that sleepy state and ready for action. Sun also gives the body vitamin D, which is true that you can also get from certain foods, but you’d have to consume lots of them.
If at all possible, try to take a brief walk outside when waking up. This is mostly a strategy to keep you away from emails and social media because you don’t want to be exposed to any negativity minutes after opening your eyes.
Start of the Day
If you ask the majority of successful entrepreneurs for a tip on how to kick off a good day, they will tell you to tackle something you find difficult as soon as you wake up. For some, it’s simply making the bed. For others, it’s doing five pull-ups.
The idea behind this concept is to make everything else throughout the day seem more simple. When you leave something difficult behind first thing in the morning, there are greater odds of you being productive throughout the rest of the day.
“Only Insane People Go To Therapy”
This is probably the worst statement anybody has ever made about therapy, ever. And, it’s generally said by people who have never attended a therapy session in their lives. It just so happens that going to see a therapist takes more courage than a lot of people know.
That’s because therapy eventually digs in very deep, up to a point where your most vulnerable thoughts and most intense traumas surface, and facing a trauma is no walk in the park. Sometimes, one therapy session per week can lead to a lot of self-improvement, because you learn to discover more about yourself and the way your mind works.
During therapy, you don’t just talk about your thoughts, feelings and problems; your therapist know how to ask the right questions so that you can go further and further back in your past, to see what events eventually lead to way you’re now coping with these situations.
So, therapy isn’t just about paying someone to listen to your problems; it’s about having the courage to be honest with yourself and the curiosity to know more about what makes you… you. Self-awareness brings you closer to happiness than you could ever imagine.
There is a lot of unhappiness in compromise. Whenever you’re accepting an invitation to go out with your friends for drinks when all you really want to do is just sit at home and watch TV, you are spending less time doing what makes you happy by compromising.
Time is, by far, the most valuable resource you have, so if you spend too much of it making compromises and putting yourself in situations that don’t necessarily benefit you, it eventually leads to a lot of frustration.
There is a motivational quote that goes something like “Do more of what makes you happy”, and that’s actually very solid advice. But this whole “saying no” concept isn’t just related to activities, it’s also about compromise in relationships, as well. Don’t lose sight of the things that represent you just to please someone else.
This is a piece of advice often neglected. There are plenty of people that make up excuses for not reading even 15 minutes per day. Truth is, reading a book can’t do you any harm. Books aren’t just informational, they can also be therapeutic:
- A good novel can help you understand more about character psychology, thus helping you learn how the human mind works.
- A non-fiction book can teach you new bits of information from various fields of interest.
- Fiction books are better than watching a good movie, because they get your imagination working.
- Reading is a wonderful way to escape the monotonous reality.
So, instead of postponing reading to do something else, why not postpone that “something else” to do some reading?
EAT, Sleep, Rave, Repeat
The topic of one’s diet is something we could literally talk about for hours (or pages) to come. That’s because food plays a very important part in how you feel, both physically and mentally. As far as your diet is concerned, consider the following:
- We all love a good chocolate, and most of us would eat an entire bar if it weren’t for the consequences. However, too many sweets don’t just elevate your blood sugar levels, which could cause diabetes, but they also give you a boost of energy for a short time, and then make you feel exhausted after. Come to think of it, the effects are quite similar to taking an ecstasy pill: you feel super-energetic for a while, and then you start experiencing fatigue and exhaustion. How about fruit instead?
- Speaking of fruit; natural juice is good, but eating the whole fruit is even better. When you squeeze the juices out of fruits, you are actually consuming more of the product itself, which is also rich in sugar. Let’s consider oranges, for instance. An orange is a very healthy snack, rich in vitamin C and antioxidants. You can eat an entire orange and feel satisfied. However, to drink an entire glass of juice, you’d probably have to press about three oranges, plus you wouldn’t be consuming the pulp.
- Consuming a lot of calories for lunch can actually make you feel less energetic. That doesn’t mean that you should skip lunch, but avoid eating a large steak that’s covered in fat. Your energy levels will thank you later.
- Drink plenty of water, because it prevents you from overeating. What’s more, water helps you stay hydrated, which makes your body function normally. Sometimes, you may actually confuse hunger with thirst. Besides, you can never really have too much water, can you?
- Contrary to popular belief, snacks are actually a good thing, as long as you know what to eat. Mixing a cup of yogurt with some bananas and strawberries in between meals isn’t just healthy, but it also keeps you nurtured. Instead of chips, eats a serving of almonds. Instead of eating ice cream, how about a smoothie made from frozen berries?
- Get rid of the snack cupboard. In fact, one of the greatest pieces of advice for people who tend to invade their snack cabinet and stuff themselves with Oreos and chips, is to avoid having these temptations around the house altogether.
- Never skip a meal. Eating healthy or being on a diet is never about starving yourself. You need the nutrients, fibers, and vitamins that you get from foods, so by skipping meals, you are depriving your body of what it needs and it will also put you in a bad mood.
- Choose cooking at home over eating out. That doesn’t mean that you should avoid going to restaurants you entire life, but the food that you cook yourself is X times healthier compared to what most restaurant serve you. You can rest assured that the main goal of most restaurants is to save money, which means that you’re being fed the cheapest version of different types of foods. Plus, when you cook at home, there’s the benefit of adding whatever flavors you want to your dish.
Eat, SLEEP, Rave, Repeat
Sleep is the best form of self-care. Which makes the lack of sleep the worst thing that you can do to your body and your mind. Depriving yourself from sleep can bring terrible consequences on both short and long term:
- When you don’t get enough sleep, you will have trouble concentrating. A mind that isn’t well-rested will have a harder time remembering things, processing new information, and your attention span severely decreases. This can affect your academic or workplace performance.
- Lack of sleep is also responsible for mood swings, which end up being reflected in the relationships you have. You become quick-tempered, and angry for no apparent reason. You start taking it out on the people around you, and even the people who love you can only put up with so much.
- Not getting enough rest takes a toll on your immune system. When you sleep, the body’s immune system is working efficiently to help you fight off infections and viruses. The less you sleep, the more likely you are to become ill. Have you ever considered why every time you get the flu, the doctor recommends plenty of bed rest? That’s precisely the reason.
- People that sleep less are more likely to gain weight. Not only do they mess up their metabolism, but lack of sleep causes them to feel hungry more often. That’s because the two main hormones responsible for hunger, leptin and ghrelin, are controlled by the amount of hours you spend sleeping. Sleep deprivation leads to an increase in ghrelin, which makes you feel hungry, and reduces leptin levels, which are responsible for telling your brain when you’re full.
- When you constantly lose sleep, you won’t have enough energy to exercise, which makes you more likely to gain weight, but also leads to a series of cardiovascular diseases, as exercise is one of the key ingredients to a healthy heart.
- What’s more, when you deprive yourself from sleep, you are more likely to experience microsleep. This literally means that you will involuntarily fall asleep during the day. This can pose a real threat, particularly if it happens while you’re driving. The only way to avoid microsleep is to actually get enough rest.
Eat, Sleep, RAVE, Repeat
And by “rave”, we actually mean “exercise”. As every medical study conducted on this topic will tell you, exercising makes you healthier and happier.
- Exercise can help with anxiety and depression, because it causes changes in the parts of the brain that are responsible with these moods.
- It increases endorphins and serotonin productions, which make you feel happier.
- It helps with weight loss, which has plenty of other health benefits in return. With the right combination of fitness exercises and resistance training, you can have the ideal weight for your age and height.
- Exercise helps strengthen your bones and muscles. Naturally, it’s also important for you to eat well, because you need proteins and calcium for bone strength, and you can’t get either from simply working out.
- While it may sound counterintuitive, exercising gives you energy. As studies suggest, exercising helps increase energy levels in individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome.
- Exercising is also beneficial for your memory, and it improves your thinking skills. By indirectly having a positive impact on the heart, physical activity increases the blood flow and oxygen to your brain.
- You will also be able to sleep better if you exercise more. When you work out, you are more likely to improve your sleep quality, regardless of your age.
Eat, Sleep, Rave, REPEAT
When you reroute your brain to adopt new habits, stick to the new thing until it becomes routine. If you want to wake up and get five minutes of sun exposure every day, literally put a reminder in your phone for it, because when you wake up all sleepy, you might forget all about the sun and vitamin D. Keep that phone reminder there for each and every morning, until it becomes a habit.
In order to replace a negative habit with one that yields positive results, you will have to mechanically repeat it until it gets in your system and becomes an automatic process. It can be anything from quitting smoking to reading ten more pages from a book every day.
There is this idea that being eco-friendly has something to do with being a hipster…? Rubbish, it has everything to do with loving yourself. You see, going green means a lot of different things, not just choosing matcha tea over a glass of Long Island.
- Living green is about choosing natural self-care products. Gives up the aluminum in conventional deodorant for the lavender and rosemary essential oils is natural deodorant. Use natural shampoo instead of conventional one. Clean your home with natural ingredients. Avoid using too much make-up. And the list could go on. Not only are the natural ingredients in skin and self-care products better for your body, they are also produced by doing less damage to the environment.
- Recycling is part of caring for the planet, which is basically your home. By recycling, you are actively participating in helping clean the planet from waste that ends up in landfills and the ocean, while also contributing to creating raw materials that can later be used to make new products.
- Eat organic food. If at all possible, try to even grow your own tomatoes. Fruits and vegetables that are sprayed with pesticides and chemicals to help increase the production rate do nothing but pollute the soil and poison the consumer.
- Give up some of those electronics. This is good for both your health, and the health of the planet. Give up that extra TV hour you indulge in every day and do something that doesn’t poison your mind with useless and rather depressing information.
- Declutter your house. You would be surprised at how much junk we actually keep because we are fond of, but don’t actually use. Like ever. Clean your closet, donate your old clothes. Recycle all those magazines that must be at least five years old. Donate old stuffed toys. Make room in the closet, the garage, and your life.
Don’t Neglect Your Hobbies
In today’s era, it’s all about making money. To buy new phones. To go on expensive vacations. To buy new clothes. And, in the process, we rarely stop to focus more on the hobbies that actually bring out joy. If you like DIY crafts, allow yourself to indulge in this hobby at least once per week.
Set up a weekly schedule to have time to do what you love, even if it means a few hours on a Sunday afternoon. Play video games. Ride a bike. Paint. Knit. Cook. Decorate the garage.
The Spiritual Detox
It’s perfectly normal to feel tired of everything and everyone every once in a while. And the best solution in such a case is the spiritual detox. That means a few days, maybe a week far from every single thing that stresses you out.
If at all possible, turn off your phone and go on a vacation. Steer clear of internet, including social media. Avoid any triggers that normally cause stress, anxiety, or anger. While this can be done at home, there are chances that someone will eventually ring the doorbell and put you out of your detox mood. That’s why taking a trip is highly recommended.
Cut out the negative people in your life. It may sound cruel, but it’s actually important to surround yourself with people that complete you, and that can teach you new things on this wonderful journey called life. If you interact with people that bring you down and don’t support you, it might be time to slowly break the chains that are holding you together.
There are literally 1.000 other pieces of advice that we could give you on how to take better care of yourself, but the ones covered above are the ones most likely to bring you happiness. Remember that being selfish isn’t always a bad thing, and it can actually help you survive in a world where you can never be 100 percent sure of somebody else’s intentions.