How To Practice Self-Care In 2018 For A Happier You
‘To bloom, we need to nurture and nourish ourselves.’
Traditional New Year’s resolutions can often focus on physical health and fitness, but January can also be a great time to reset and improve your mental health.
With that in mind, we asked four experts and influencers for their top self-care tips, designed to improve your overall well-being and boost happiness in the long term.
The first rule of self-care? Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to incorporate all these tips into your life at once. Why not try one per week or even one per month in 2018?
After all, the key to maintaining New Year’s resolutions is creating sustainable change through the smallest of baby steps.
1. Start the day right.
Sleep is undeniably important for both physical and mental health, but Julie Montagu, author of ‘Recharge: A year of self-care to focus on you’, points out that setting an early alarm (and going to bed earlier) could have its benefits.
“Always aim to wake up 30 minutes earlier than your schedule actually demands,” she says.
“If this means that you are awake 30 minutes before the rest of your household then this is an additional bonus. This time spent alone will help you to wake in a positive way before the chaos of the day begins.
“It will also mean that you are able to get organized peacefully and embrace the quiet of the morning.”
2. Be your own cheerleader.
Most of us aren’t accustomed to bigging ourselves up, but anti-bullying campaigner Harnaam Kaur says acknowledging your own brilliance is key to self-care.
“Wake up knowing that you are a boss, powerful enough to tackle anything coming your way,” she tells HuffPost UK.
“Knowing this has always put a smile on my face. Affirming all of the fantastic traits that we hold inside, definitely does change the way we think about ourselves, therefore changing the way our day goes.”
Jayne Hardy, founder of The Burt Foundation and author of ‘The Self-Care Project: How to let go of frazzle and make time for you’ also recommends being kinder to yourself.
“Quite often, we beat ourselves up for things. It’s a knee-jerk reaction which
cements any negative thought patterns we have. It lends itself to any feelings of unworthiness or ‘I’m not enough-ness’ and can be more damaging than we realize,” she tells HuffPost UK.
“To bloom, we need to nurture and nourish ourselves. We can do this by becoming more mindful of how we talk to ourselves and by choosing self-kindness.”
3. Get away from your gadgets.
In 2018 watching TV while scrolling through Twitter has become the norm, but Julie says it’s time to cut back.
“Dedicate some time each day to unplugging from your gadgets and technology in general,” she says.
“Disconnecting from the constant stream of information that we are becoming increasingly dependent on will help to restore balance in your mind.
“It will also re-focus your attention to the things that are truly important.”
4. Spend time in nature.
Blogger Milly Smith, who runs the Instagram account Self Love Club, has previously written about her experience of suicidal thoughts.
She says small steps like trying to leave the house each day can be vital to self-care and improving your mental health.
“Even if it’s just to sit in your garden or outside your house. Leaving your house and just looking at nature always grounds me, humbles me and freshens my mind,” she tells HuffPost UK.
Julie also agrees being in nature is a great way to de-stress and promote relaxation.
“You may find it is difficult to find the time to do so, especially if you have a demanding work schedule. If this is true of you then eating your lunch in the park could be the perfect solution,” she says.
5. Forget about the opinions of others.
When you stop and think about it, Instagram likes really aren’t that important. In order to care for yourself, Harnaam believes you need to focus less on what other people think about you.
“Do what your heart and mind tell you. Remember that people will project their insecurities on others, rise above it gracefully and stay true to you,” she says.
Similarly, Milly recommends letting go of toxic relationships that have a negative impact on you, both online and in real life.
“Delete, remove and block people that make you feel rubbish, insecure or low,” she says.
“Unfollow accounts that make you feel pressure, hurt or anger. I have removed a few friendships last year that we’re just awful and toxic and it feels amazing.”
6. Learn when to say yes (and when to say no).
Before committing to social activities in 2018, have a think about why you’re doing it.
Milly points out: “You are entitled and allowed to say ‘no’ whenever you like.
“Say ‘no’ to things that mentally drain you and erase the need to feel guilty for doing so, you’re not here to please everyone else.”
Having said that, Jayne says taking the occasional leap of faith and saying ‘yes’ can also have a positive impact on your life and the lives of others.
“Saying ‘yes’ is just as important as saying ‘no’. We don’t want our boundaries to be cast in iron so that they also prevent the good stuff from coming through.
“Say ‘yes’ to the things which light you like a string of fairy lights, to the things which feel a little out of reach, to your dreams, wants, needs, and most importantly, to offers of much-needed help.”
7. Renegotiate your time.
According to Jayne, taking control of your timetable can be an empowering life change.
“We feel as though we’re chasing our tails, juggling lots of balls and starved of time. It feels as though time runs away with us and as though we don’t have any control over it, but we do have more sway over it than we think we do,” she says.
She recommends asserting work boundaries by removing emails on your phone and downloading an app to monitor how much time you’re spending on certain apps (particularly social media) and work to reduce that time.
“By stepping back and evaluating how we spend our time, we can make different decisions based on what we actually want to do and feel,” she says.
8. Focus on yourself.
Perhaps the most important self-care step you can take in 2018 is making time for yourself.
“Work, family, relationship, friendships can most definitely take a toll on us and our mental states,” says Harnaam.
“Take time to rejuvenate, do the things you love with your loved ones and enjoy life. I love taking long baths with my favorite bath supplies; I play music at the same time too. Eat what you want, drink more water, have lots of good healthy sex, laugh more than you did last year, wear what you want!
“Make bigger and better goals and set out a plan to achieve them. It’s 2018 and your year to boss it.”
Article courtesy Rachel Moss for The Huffington Post (UK edition)