Today kicks off #selfcareweek – an annual national awareness week that focuses on helping people to look after their own health. 💙

‘Practise Self Care for Life’ is the theme this year and organisations are being encouraged to use Self Care Week as a hook to help people ‘practise’ self care for a healthier, happier life. Have you been putting yourself last lately? And do you keep forgetting to do the small things, too? Those tiny, seemingly unimportant actions, like taking a real lunch break, grabbing coffee with a friend or planning a do-nothing day, can actually have a huge impact on your mental, and even physical, health. Keeping that in mind, self-care isn’t selfish or shallow; it’s a really important part of a healthy lifestyle. Here are 10 super-easy things you can do to beat stress, reduce anxiety and boost your mood. And even better, they’re totally free!

Make sure you’re meeting your basic needs 🥦

Are you eating, drinking, and sleeping enough? If not, start there. If you’re struggling with energy levels and feeling stressed, make sure you keep hydrated, eat mindfully and get enough sleep. We know that might be harder for some than it is for others but It’s commonly known that for esteem, if we spend time doing something that makes us feel masterful — maybe a favourite recipe, if you’re a baker, or time with an instrument, if you’re a musician, then we will feel much happier.

Get moving 🏃‍♂️

Moving your body is one of the most effective tools for stress reduction. Firstly, it tends to take your mind off of things—it’s hard to think about daily stressors when you’re huffing and puffing while you run up a hill, for example. It also boosts your endorphins, according to the Mayo Clinic, which are the magic hormones behind the “runner’s high.”

But you don’t have to run to get the benefits of moving your body, and you’re better off starting with a brisk walk or any form of activity that you genuinely enjoy than, say, entering a marathon. Whether it’s dancing, kicking a ball around, lifting weights or any other activity, just get moving!

Try meditation 🧘‍♂️

Meditating at home — which is just about bringing your focus to the present moment — has a whole host of benefits. Even as little as five minutes of mindfulness meditation per day has been proven to have positive outcomes on such conditions as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

There are several different types of meditation from mindfulness meditation to concentration meditation to using mantras, and all can result in deep relaxation. Guided meditations, like those offered by the best meditation apps, are a good place to start.

Focus on your breathing 😌

If meditation sounds too complicated, simplify focus on your breathing. By focusing on our breath, you can lower both your heart rate and blood pressure. Try taking 5-7 minutes to breathing exercises that lengthen your exhale. A breathing app, like Breathe2Relax, can also help. Practice when you’re not feeling stressed, so that your body knows what to do when it’s time for a little self-care.

Take a nap 😴

When your body tells you that it’s given all it can give, the best thing you can do is listen. Allow yourself to take a breather and relax into a nap. You’d be surprised how good you’ll feel mentally and physically once you wake up.

Go outside 🌳

There are serious wellness benefits to getting out of the house (or the office, for that matter). In fact, spending time in nature has been part of the Japanese government’s preventative health strategy since the 80s. They call it shinrin-yoku, which translates to “forest bathing,” and it means simply being in the presence of trees—not by hiking or camping, just by… being there. And there’s science behind it: a 2010 study in Environmental Health and Preventative Medicine found that spending time in nature leads to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, lower blood pressure and a lower pulse rate than spending time in urban settings.

Set screen-time limits and take a break from your phone 📵

We love our smartphones, tablets and laptops, too… but binge-watching the hottest new show or scrolling through emails before bed can impact your sleep, and too much social media scrolling can impact your mental health. Turns out, there a real health benefits to going tech-free for at least part of the day.

Spend time with your pets 😺🐶

Researchers believe cuddling with a pet has real mental health benefits. Low serotonin levels have been linked to depression, and petting an animal prompts your body to release this hormone. And owning a pet has other health benefits, too, including decreasing your blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, warding off loneliness and encouraging you to exercise and socialise more. Win win!

…Or cuddle up with a loved one 💙

In fact, hugging another person—or even a pillow!—releases serotonin, too.

Laugh! 😂

“Laughter is the best medicine” isn’t just an old wives tale. It can instantly put you in a better mood. Find a funny movie, TV show or stand-up comedian and have the first, and last laugh.

Click here for hundreds of more ways to look after yourself and implement more self-care ideas into your daily routines.

 , , , , , ,