Start With Quality Sleep
When life gets busy and you feel like you can’t find time for everything, sleep is often the first thing to go. The irony is that sacrificing sleep has negative effects on your body and mind, so we’re less effective at getting all those things done. If you struggle to get quality sleep, focus your self-care efforts on creating a relaxation regimen at night.
Start by taking a close look at your sleep habits to see if you can identify problems. Are you waking up in the middle of the night feeling achy? You may simply need better pillows to get comfortable. If you have trouble staying asleep, try using a noise machine to eliminate noise distractions and blackout curtains to make your room dark. Once you troubleshoot obvious problems, Prevention recommends setting a regular sleep schedule and developing a wind-down routine. Most of us don’t have the ability to simply lie down and turn off our minds immediately. Creating a bedtime routine that includes relaxation helps you make that transition and sends the signal to your mind and body that it’s time to rest.
This tip may sound overly simplistic, but it’s amazing just how much stress can pile up, even for those who practice yoga. Self-care that lowers stress is critical when you’re in the midst of a meltdown, but don’t wait for that to happen! Everyday self-care is also preventive, so we’re less likely to reach that point of maximum stress. These are just a few of the many things you can do daily to keep stress in check:
- Stick to your fitness routine. When you feel like you have too much on your plate, don’t let exercise be the thing that slides. According to Shape, exercise is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress, so even if all you can squeeze in is 30 minutes (or less), finding that time is totally worthwhile.
- Create a space to meditate. Practicing mindfulness through meditation helps you disconnect from all that burdens your mind, which lowers stress and helps you approach life from a more balanced perspective. Create a dedicated meditation space in your home that is free of clutter, comfortable and relaxing. Even when time is short, this will be a retreat where you can go to restore peace in your life.
Everyday emotional self-care is about more than just reducing stress. So often, we get bogged down in our daily must-dos that we forget to do things we want to do. Focus on doing small things throughout your day that bring joy to your life. It may be reading a good book, doing something creative, or cranking up the tunes in your car. Finding time to spend on your hobbies makes you feel happier and feeds your soul, even if all you have time for is a few minutes of listening to music on your commute.
Be sure to make time to connect with others too. Social connectedness has been shown to have a strong link to happiness. When we’re busy, relationships can suffer, but that’s also when you need the support of friends and family the most. Get creative about how you find time to nurture relationships - ask a friend to join you for a workout, or plan a weekly lunch date with your partner.
All of these tips are geared toward finding balance between physical and emotional self-care. Remember that getting plenty of quality sleep is the foundation that everything else in our lives is based on. With this foundation, reducing stress and finding joy will come easier, and you will see the benefits to your health and get even better results from your fitness routine.
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