Do you routinely work 10-hour days because it’s expected? Are you in the habit of skipping the kids’ soccer games because of work? Americans habitually undervalue personal time when it conflicts with a perceived need to make a good impression at the office — and many suffer from dangerous symptoms of chronic stress because of it.

Self-care is the antidote to stress. According to the World Health Organization, the definition of self-care can be summed up as “what people do for themselves to establish and maintain health and prevent and deal with illness.” Here are a few ideas for working self-care into your life.

Clean Air

One effective self-care strategy is to make sure you improve the air quality in your home. Research indicates that constant exposure to polluted air can contribute to poor cognition and depression, which can hinder your efforts of maintaining a healthier and happier life. Look online for the best air purifier for your home, and if you’re a pet owner, pay particular attention to the models that are designed specifically for you.

Nap Time

Some people find napping to be a comforting and centering form of self-care. It’s a healthy practice that confers the physical benefits of sleep (the more the better) while providing the kind of psychological anchor that makes self-care an important part of your routine. If you’re feeling run down and mentally compromised, catch a quick nap after work and wake up feeling rejuvenated and ready for a productive evening.

Exercise

Although it sounds like a lot of work, developing a strong and enjoyable exercise routine is a crucial aspect of self-care. In addition to helping you look incredible, a good workout regimen can improve your well-being in a number of different ways, both physically and mentally. While many people choose to work out at home, others opt to sign up for gym memberships, as exercising among like-minded people provides them with the motivation they need to stick with it. Fortunately for seniors who are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, including those provided by companies like Aetna, they have access to the SilverSneakers program, which grants them access to fitness centers in their area and around the country without any additional fees. By taking advantage of these services, you can enrich your life, health, and well-being, as well as provide yourself with some much-needed self-care.

Wet Meditation

There are few things more relaxing than a nice, hot shower when you’re feeling beaten down. Don’t worry about water wastage if a shower helps bring you back to life; take your time washing up, shampooing, and applying body wash and conditioner. Once you’re feeling squeaky clean, let the water roll off your back and spend a few minutes processing your thoughts and feelings. Try focusing on one word or phrase, or repeat a calming mantra as you focus on your breathing. If your days are super busy, the shower may be the best (maybe the only) place that’s private enough to allow for the kind of mental/emotional healing that meditation offers.

An Energy Boost

It’s difficult to engage in self-care if you lack the energy. As such, finding the right energy supplement can make a tremendous difference in your whole outlook on life, though it’s important to do plenty of research (read product reviews, discuss with a doctor, etc.) before making an energy supplement part of your wellness routine.

Engage Hands and Eyes

Engaging your hands and eyes in an activity such as drawing, coloring, or writing can be a soothing way to wind down, release tension, and vent pent-up emotions. Grab a sketch pad, pencils, and colored pens and spend time drawing whatever image comes to mind. Many adults find coloring to be highly — there are many “adult” coloring books that are fun and stimulating, and they serve as a good way to cool out after a long day at the office. If you tend to be more verbal than visual, consider keeping a journal and spend some time each day recording your hopes, frustrations, concerns, and fantasies. Journaling can be a very healthy way to carry on a dialogue with yourself and make sense of things that you find troubling.

Animal Therapy

Interacting with animals is another powerful emotional outlet. If you’re unable to own a pet, consider volunteering at the local Humane Society or pet adoption center and spend some time playing with kittens or taking dogs for a walk. These organizations are always looking for help from animal lovers who want to provide care and companionship.

The Basics

Everyone has their own way of relaxing. Whatever works for you is worthwhile if it helps you cope with stress and the pressures that make it difficult to maintain a healthy outlook on life. If you’re the kind of person who has trouble finding time to unwind, make it a priority to learn to say “no” more often this year. Saying “no” when you need time to yourself is empowering, especially if you’re naturally inclined to give of yourself.

How you feel is about more than dealing with aches and pains and finding the energy you need to be more active. Self-care is about helping you feel good about life and maintaining a healthy sense of well-being. The key is finding things that truly bring you joy.

Image courtesy of Pixabay