Health Advocate Blog

How to make self-care a priority

Like many people attending to family, pets, work deadlines and other obligations, it often means that taking time to care for your own physical, mental and emotional health gets moved off the to-do list. But attending to self-care is absolutely essential to build resilience to stress, improving your stamina, relationships and even your job performance! Here are a few ways to put self-care prominently on your list this year:

Mark “me time” on your calendar. Whether it’s 15 minutes during your work break to read a book or a half hour to walk at the start of the day, make sure you carve out time each day for a restorative activity.

Jot down routine health checkups and screenings. Self-care includes maintaining optimal health! Schedule your annual physical exam, dental cleanings, needed immunizations, and, if applicable, a mammogram or other screening. Make sure you get regular blood pressure checks and any necessary lab work.

Cook at home more whenever possible. Eating home-cooked food with wholesome ingredients is generally more nourishing than serving up microwaved or packaged food, which is often laden with salt, sugar and fat. Trying out easy, healthy recipes can stoke your creativity, while sharing meal prep and cooking with family or friends can bring you closer together.

Get organized. It’s impossible to focus on taking care of yourself each day when you’re trying to keep track of appointments and responsibilities, hunting for items, or wading through clutter. Start with a small change, like keeping a daily calendar on the fridge, or stowing bins at the front door to hold workout gear for the next day.

Say no to whatever is toxic in your life. Ask yourself, does this activity or person support or hinder my well-being? Weed out the depressing news feeds and the friends or acquaintances who drag you down rather than lift you up.

Hooked on your smartphone? Consider taking time-outs. Are you spending most of your leisure time online rather than in participating in real-life experiences and interactions? If so, you may be missing out on the meaningful bonding that occurs with intimate, in-person social interactions, for example.

Improve your sleep habits. Getting restorative sleep is the foundation of self-care. Recommended tips include: going to bed and rising at the same time every day; avoiding screen time, caffeine, alcohol and exercise before retiring to bed; sticking to a wind-down routine before bedtime; and keeping the bedroom dark, quiet and comfortably cool.

Neglecting your well-being in some way? Talk to your healthcare practitioner for more tips to get on track.