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Why do we need a Daily Self-Care Checklist? Because let’s be honest. Who doesn’t struggle to make self-care a priority when life is busy? Sometimes making time for ourselves literally feels impossible. When you consider that most women are the main care providers, it’s easy to see that when we’re so busy caring for everyone else at home – cats and dogs included – we often forget about ourselves! And when we do get a rare half an hour to relax and unwind, it’s tempting just to flop down on the sofa in front of the TV rather than to treat ourselves to a therapeutic soak in the bath or to spend time doing an at-home facial.
Daily Self-Care Checklist
So the next time you ‘take five’, make your own wellbeing a priority. Taking time out for yourself is one of the most beneficial things that you can do for your overall health. By investing in self-care, you will have more energy, increased patience, and generally feel better about life. While most women complain that they feel drained of energy, unappreciated and, not surprisingly, exhausted at the end of every day, it’s not until everything begins to fall apart and you start dropping the balls, that we realise we’ve overdone it. The solution to burn out? Give yourself a little bit of the love and kindness that you give to your everybody else. I promise that your body and your mind will thank you for it.
Start the day with some good vibes
For many of us, mornings can be the most stressful time of the day. We wake up feeling groggy and unrefreshed rather than rearing to go – not a great way to start the day! However, it’s worth noting that our energy is actually at it’s ‘purest’ first thing in the morning, so this is the best time to ‘tune in’ to this positivity if you want our day to run smoothly.
This is especially crucial if we are trying to manifest something into our life, or if we just want a stress-free day. As soon as you open your eyes, start thinking positively. This is a good time to set intentions for the day and to repeat any affirmations that are relevant to you. ‘I am healthy’, ‘I am safe’, ‘I am loved’ are all good starting points and will help you establish a daily routine. Read more on The Law of Attraction here.
Follow this with some meditation, even if it’s just for 5 minutes. Daily meditation helps to calm a ‘busy’ brain, helping us to focus and maintain emotional balance. I love the Buddhify app – it’s so simple and user friendly too! Perfect for some self-care time.
Related – A Beginners Guide to Meditation
Write in a gratitude journal
It’s a fact! Studies have shown that practicing gratitude has real physical and psychological benefits on our wellbeing. From reducing anxiety and depression to sleeping better and having more positive emotions, gratitude can even make us “feel more alive.” Although it can be hard to get started (we’re from a “want” generation), once we take the first step and start to change our mindset, things get easier. It helps if to start with small things, like being grateful for a bed to sleep in, a family that cares about you, or even just being thankful that you’re alive.
Once you get the hang of it, you’ll find more and more things to be grateful for. Want to get started? Why not download my Gratitude Workbook and learn how to increase your happiness with a gratitude journal here.
Daily Self-Care Checklist
Embrace the great outdoors
Spending time in green space has been scientifically proven to help us relax and unwind. When we are outdoors and surrounded by nature, researchers have found that we sleep better at night, our heart rate and stress levels are reduced, our mental health is improved and our immune system is strengthened. On the flip-side, studies have shown that if we grow up without green space around us, we have a 55 % increased risk of developing a psychiatric disorder such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse as we get older.
Proof of just how important spending time in nature is to our mental health. No matter how busy you are, make time each day to get outside and into the garden, park, or playing field – anywhere that you are surrounded by trees, plants, flowers, and grass. You’ll reap the rewards with improved physical and emotional wellbeing.
I’m a big believer in exercise, not just for the physical benefits but for my mental health too. I believe lifting weights, as an example, has made me a stronger person mentally as well as physically. There is a strong connection between the mind and body.
However, I also appreciate that the gym is not for everyone! The trick with ensuring that you get regular exercise is to find an activity that you enjoy doing. When you enjoy something, you are more likely to find time to fit it into your day, even when you are busy. This can be as simple as a dog walk, a game of tennis, a run in the park or along the beach – anything that makes you feel good afterwards.
Increasing your heart rate increases the serotonin levels in your brain which will always make you feel better. Remember: exercise is one of those things that your brain will try to talk you out of! But if you learn to recognise the pattern, ignore the excuses and push through, you will be glad you did afterwards!
Get ‘lost’ in a creative hobby
Being creative is a great way to deal with stress, especially if you are the type of person who is easily stressed, even by the small stuff. Our minds tend to play things over and over, even if they aren’t that important. Maybe someone has said something that has upset us, or our boss has given us a task to complete that we’re not familiar with. We go over and over the same conversation or scenario in our head, often driving ourselves mad! The solution? Engage in something creative! When we are concentrating on an activity that demands focus or that gives us pleasure, irrelevant thoughts tend to fade away, becoming less important.
But that’s not all. Creativity is therapeutic on a much deeper level. Spending time immersed in anything that’s creative – painting, drawing, playing a musical instrument, or crafting – has been scientifically proven to trigger the release of calming neurochemicals. According to Mervyn Etienne, cognitive performance coach, physical therapist, and co-founder of Bio-Performance Sciences, allowing ourselves time to be creative is vital to our mental health and wellbeing.
“Recent discoveries in the field of cognitive neuroscience have illuminated and given structure to the underpinning of creativity,” he explains. “And this knowledge can be used to overcome creative blocks. An imaging study conducted with jazz musicians which compared their brain activity when they improvised to activity when they played well-rehearsed pieces, highlighted the ‘quieting’ of brain regions associated with self-monitoring and the inner critic during improvisation.”
So how does this affect our neurochemistry?
“Our brains generate electrical activity, in part due to a number of neurochemicals being produced by brain cells called neurons. Neurotransmitters are a type of neurochemical that facilitate or reduce electrical chatter between cells,” says Mervyn. “These include dopamine, serotonin, glutamate, GABA, and acetylcholine, with each having different effects. Some are excitatory causing neurons to increase chatter, while some are inhibitory, quieting the chatter.”
GABA is one of the most inhibitory or calming neurotransmitters which reduces activity in many brain regions.
“The jazz player who is improvising will be producing neurotransmitters such as GABA that will turn off their critical mind to allow creative free expression to occur,” says Mervyn.
The good news is that it’s not just jazz improvisation that triggers the release of beneficial neurotransmitters. Activities where you can let your creativity take over, whether it’s gardening, painting, or dancing also release feel-good serotonin, dopamine, and GABA. I’m very lucky that I find doing hair very soothing, and even though it’s a job, rather than a hobby, I can be creative in my work! Even when I’ve had a stressful life event like a flat tyre or an argument with my partner, I am at my happiest and most creative when I become focused on someone’s hair!
Turn off the TV, step away from the laptop – and have a bath instead!
It’s so tempting to slump in front of the TV after a tiring or trying day, and while there’s nothing wrong with vegging out once in a while, it can become an unhealthy habitual! Try to keep TV evenings focused on programmes that you actually want to watch. When we channel surf, we end up scrolling the internet or looking at our phone at the same time because we are not focused or engaged. This usually results in an unsatisfactory evening where we feel like we’ve wasted our precious downtime.
Instead, invest in some self-care. Run a relaxing hot bath with a few drops of soothing aromatic or essential oils – I love Olverum! Then indulge in a comforting Ted Talk or some calming music. So much better for your mental health than endless scrolling or channel-surfing, I guarantee you will feel like a new woman!
Get plenty of good-quality sleep
Women’s sleep patterns are often erratic due to fluctuating hormones, sleepless babies, and the impact of emotional and physical stress. The downside of poor quality or lack of sleep is that we become lethargic, drained of vital energy, and our tolerance to stress is depleted. This, in turn, leads us to become a more irritable mum, a snappier partner, or a less supportive friend. Women often feel guilty about spending time on themselves, but it’s one of the most important investments we can make.
When it comes to getting the best night’s sleep possible, having a bedtime routine and remembering to ‘wind down’ before we climb into bed is crucial. Winding down before bed is definitely one of the best ways to get your sleep back on track. The kind of evening pre-bedtime routine we create for children is just as beneficial for adults, helping our bodies and brains to wind down and relax before we sleep. This can be as simple as having a bath, a cup of herbal tea, or reading a book for 10 minutes. Anything that doesn’t stimulate the brain works best, which means no phones, TV, or internet scrolling!
|Natalie Shirlaw is passionate about healthy living and writes posts about wellbeing. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to pin it or share it!|