How self-care can help boost your wellbeing

A candle, mug and books in a windowsill

Finding time for yourself can be a tricky task; busy work schedules and hectic social calendars can often mean that you’re left feeling overworked and overwhelmed. Not only is this detrimental to your mental health but it can also have a negative impact on your physical wellbeing too.

Wellbeing, by definition, is ‘the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy’ and managing this is incredibly important. When you feel satisfied with your life, your performance in many areas can improve. Not only can you find balancing relationships easier, but your productivity and confidence at work can also benefit. With this in mind, maintaining a positive outlook can sometimes prove difficult, which is why practising self-care can be advantageous.

Self-care is the buzzword of the moment, but what does it actually mean? “Self-care to me means being kind to myself so that I can be kind to others”, shares Clare from The Organizer UK. Whereas Autumn from The London Mindful Clinic defines it as listening to the signals her body sends her and tending to the underlying needs they represent. “It can be as simple as resting when tired or taking a break when the wheels in my head start spinning.”

A quick flick through #selfcare on Instagram may convince you that a luxurious bubble bath is necessary to unlock its full potential and that sipping on a green juice can help quash feelings of hopelessness, but there is more to it than that. In short, self-care is anything that helps you to switch off for a minute in order to protect your own happiness. If you’re still not sure whether your morning coffee break counts as an act of self-care (hint –, it does), take a look below to find out more.

How do you practise self-care?

A neon sign saying breathe

How you practice self-care can vary depending on the individual and the circumstances. If you spend your weekdays in an office, then booking a last-minute yoga retreat just isn’t possible, whereas arranging a weekend spa break in Yorkshire for the future may be more manageable. Although both of these things are great for long-term recuperation, finding short-term solutions is of paramount importance.

In order to establish how you practise self-care, you need to look at what you already do. As mentioned, isolating yourself for a couple of minutes in the morning whilst you sip your coffee is a fantastic way to start the day. It allows you to clear your headspace before considering your daily tasks. Other quick fixes that you can try before heading out to work include a relaxing shower using your favourite products or leisurely putting on makeup whilst listening to your favourite podcast. Giving yourself this window to do something for yourself allows you to improve your mood, making the hours ahead look more positive.

Throughout the day, especially if you have a career where flexibility is minimal, you may need to get creative. Lunchtime is your opportunity to practise your second act of self-care for the day, from a brisk walk outside to reading a couple of chapters in your book. During this time, try to switch off any work-related thoughts. In doing this, you will likely feel more refreshed and capable of completing your afternoon exercises.

Speaking of exercise, this is an amazing way to help de-stress at the end of the day. Whether you opt for an at-home workout or join a fitness class or gym, endorphins are released in the brain which are key to managing negative thoughts and lowering the stress hormone cortisol. Other good acts of self-care for you to try in the evenings include practising a hobby such as drawing or cooking or meditating.

Acts of self-care don’t need to be grand in order to be effective: however, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to it either. It is important to make sure that you do things to improve both your physical and mental wellbeing. From drinking plenty of water each day to ensuring that you get fresh air, we’ve included some useful advice below:

Examples of self-care to practise

- Reading your favourite book

- Listening to a podcast

- Taking a long shower

- Doing something creative, such as painting or cooking

- Meditation and mindfulness

- Going for a walk

- Exercising

A lady sitting on a hill and meditating

Food

The term clean eating is thrown around often, but its definition is often vague. Adhering to labels can be daunting, especially if you’re not sure what it entails, so take a couple of principles from clean eating and adapt your diet where you see fit.

Nutrition is something that you should pay close attention to, as not eating the right balance of vitamins and minerals each day, as well as not sticking to your recommended daily intake of calories, can be harmful to your health. Sticking to a diet can be difficult; not only can it cause bad moods, but it can be seen as another daily stress. Instead, create a weekly meal plan with hearty homecooked meals, as well as some delicious snacks to see you through the week.

Many people view meal planning and prepping as an act of self-care. Not only does it make cooking through the week easier, as you will have each of the necessary ingredients before starting your meal, but it also means that you can stay on top of your finances.

Self-care food shopping list:

- Fish

- Red meat

- Broccoli

- Strawberries

- Brussel sprouts

- Spinach

- Avocado

- Almonds

- Milk

- Yoghurt

- Leafy green vegetables

- Kiwi fruit

- Eggs

- Wholegrains

- Dried fruit

- Cheese

Water

It should come as no surprise that water is hugely important. However, most people aren’t don’t drink enough each day to replenish their levels lost through daily activity. The NHS website suggests that we should aim for six to eight glasses a day, the equivalent to 1.2 litres and, according to A. Vogel, consuming this can help improve your complexion, help you to lose weight and support your digestion.

Drinking water is a great act of self-care as it replenishes your body. Staying hydrated allows your brain to work to the best of its ability and can help improve your general health. Whilst it may be easier to opt for a fruit juice, caffeinated beverage or something fizzy, using a water tracker will help you to stay on top of your goals.

Stress

Clare from The Organizer UK finds that “It’s important to take time to decompress and also to recharge as life is busier now than ever before. I have small children and it’s important to me that they come home to a calm and relaxed home.

“It’s not easy finding time to practise self-care when you’re a busy parent, I find that meditation and practising mindfulness helps me be a more patient mum. I like to exercise as much as I can and eat a vegetarian diet to keep my energy levels up. But my favourite thing to do is light a few candles and read a book.”

“Making time for mindfulness is one way, taking a full day each week offline and resting is essential for me, and also getting out in nature on a regular basis is one of my favourite luxuries”, we’re informed by Autumn from the London Mindful Clinic. “It is important to restore our inner resources, so we don't burn out. We need to give our nervous systems a break. Doing so in healthy ways can be strategic renewal. There are high returns on the time we invest in taking care of ourselves.

self-care checklist