5 Ways to Practice Self-Care In 2021

self-care

/sɛlfˈkɛː/

noun

the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one's own health.

The importance of positive mental health is in the headlines now more than ever with a torrential 2020, but practising and understanding self care is equally important. Kick off 2021 with some new healthy habits to ingrain self-care into your daily, weekly and monthly routines.

Here are our top 5 ways to practice self-care.

1. Use a fitness tracker to monitor physical activity, boost motivation and remain accountable.

Hopkins Medicine is an advocate for fitness trackers, according to research, studies show that consistently wearing a fitness tracker (smart watch, pedometer, smartphone app or other) can increase your steps every day by 1.6 kilometers!

“Being more active and changing your habits is important, but it can be difficult. Tracking likely helps a lot of people when combined with a clear goal to shoot for.” “Fitness trackers are a great tool for heart health,” - Johns Hopkins cardiologist Seth Martin, M.D., M.H.S.

Using a fitness tracker is one thing, but exercising more and eating healthier is another. Some self care tips given on the Hopkins Medicine website highlight the importance of recruiting friends and family to remain accountable, finding physical activities that you enjoy and also setting realistic and achievable movement goals.

Don’t have a fitness tracker? Here is a link to the 6 best fitness trackers in Australia.

2. Ask yourself regularly, are you getting enough sleep?

If the answer is no, then it needs to be addressed as a matter of importance. Sleep is so important to our physical and mental health, and it’s definitely taken for granted. Adults should be getting a minimum of 7 hours, but this number will vary depending on lifestyle. Try getting into bed earlier in the evening, and having some screen free time just before bed. Not feeling tired? Read a book or practice some meditation to relax your body and your mind.

If you’re having problems prioritising sleep in your busy lifestyle, visit the Sleep Health Foundation to find resources, fact sheets and useful tips to improve your ‘sleep’ health.

The Sleep Health Foundation also recommends lowering the lights at least an hour before bed, eliminating alcohol, caffeine and other stimulants before bed and saving TV time for the living room.

3. Reduce your screen time, or have a social media free day every week.

One effective way to reduce your screen time is to have a social media free day each week! How many of you check your phone first thing in the morning when you wake up? And scroll through Instagram, Facebook (or even worse emails) before you fall asleep at night? It’s true, the internet has definitely ingrained some potentially harmful habits into our daily lives. Reducing your screen time can prevent eye strain, headaches, can improve sleep and increase your focus during the day.

But what happens if you have an office job and starting at screens all day is your job? Try the 20 - 20 - 20 rule. Fitbit recommends taking intermittent breaks from staring at your computer screen every 20 minutes, and staring at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds which can help reduce significant eye strain and help focus. According to The New Daily, Australians are spending more than one third of their day in front of a screen, that is more time than we spend sleeping! In a survey conducted by The New Daily, more than three quarters of respondents said that they were concerned about their health and wellbeing due to the increasing amount of time that they were spending looking at screens and smart devices, causing sore eyes, restless sleep and unproductively.

To prioritise self care this year, make a conscious effort to put your phone down, stop scrolling and start re-engaging in the world around you.

4. Listen to a podcast or sign up for Audible.

Every year, we find ourselves with new distractions and getting busier and busier with everyday life. It’s important to take the time to consume content that is meaningful to you, but time is of the essence! If you struggle to find time to pick up that book you have been meaning to finish for six months, join the un-finished book club!

If you haven’t experienced the world of podcasts and audiobooks, then this is a must for 2021. Earphones in, and shut the rest of the world out! Tuning into an audio book is a great way to practise self care, and have some you time.

Audible has a huge range of books that are available to download on your smartphone to listen to when you’re in the car, walking the dog, doing the housework or even cooking. Pay a small monthly subscription fee to receive one audiobook a month, or pay as you go.

Need some inspiration? Here are some trending Audio Books this month! Check them out below...

A Promised Land - Barack Obama

All Our Shimmering Skies - Trent Dalton

Think Like a Monk - Jay Shetty

If you’re more into news and topical conversations, podcasts could be more your style! If you’re a newbie, you can jump onto your podcast app on your smart phone and start subscribing to podcasts that interest you, start by searching by keywords or most popular! In no time, you will have a feed of your favourites podcast episodes ready to be consumed and enjoyed. To get you started, here is a list of top podcast recommendations for 2021, there is something for everyone.

5. Clean out your social media accounts - Marie Kondo Style!

Social media is a fantastic way to connect with loved ones, make new connections and have meaningful conversations. However, many studies have linked excessive consumption of social media with poor mental health, with many young females scrolling and comparing themselves to influencers, celebrities and models. 2021 is the year Marie Kondo your social media accounts!

You may be thinking, how do we clear the clutter and what should the criteria be for an unfollow or an unlike? Instagram has been innovative in this space, deactivating visible likes in order to decrease negative impacts to mental health, although this won’t single handedly solve the problem, it’s a small step in the right direction.

Here are some criteria to consider...

  • Does the social media account bring you joy (is it meaningful to you)?
  • Do you actively engage with the content from the account? Are you still interested in what the account stands for?
  • Do you find yourself thinking negatively about yourself after seeing content from the account?
  • Does the account post content that’s offensive, and not inline with your values?

Feel free to add your own ‘unfollow’ criteria! Learn more about how to declutter your social media accounts over at Psychology Today.

And there you have it, our top five ways to actively practice self-care this year! Putting yourself and your health first is something that takes time and conscious effort, especially when ‘life’ gets in the way.

Remember, the most important relationship you can have is the one with yourself!

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