4 Steps to Easy and Inexpensive Self-care

Do you practice self-care?

Many may quip “Who’s got the time?” as they picture people sitting back in a luxury spa sipping on a cleansing juice and being pampered from head to toe. However, this is not truly what self-care is about. Rather, this image actually represents a stereotypical view of self-care and certainly a luxury form that many don’t have the time or money to partake in.

Have you ever felt this way and found yourself putting off self-care because it seems self-indulgent, too hard or perhaps too expensive?

Well let’s help you to get to know some easy and inexpensive ways to practice self-care. But first of all, let’s dive into what self-care really is and why it matters.

According to Life in Mind, “Self-care refers to activities that preserve and maintain one’s physical, emotional and mental health. It is an ongoing commitment to look after yourself through helpful behaviours that protect your health during periods of stress.” By this definition, it is clear to see how our picture of luxury self-indulgence, may be a form of self-care, but it is certainly not the epitome of it.

Instead, the best way to practice self-care is through actions that encompass our physical, emotional and mental health, together these also form a basis of self-compassion towards ourselves.

Easy and inexpensive ways to practice self-care
    1. Exercise; fresh air and movement are not only good for your body, but it is great for your mental health. So, find ways to increase incidental movement in your day and prioritise a daily movement session via a walk or even a home dance session.
    2. Eating a Healthy Balanced Diet; when we live a busy life, food is often an afterthought. Yet ensuring your body is nourished in a healthy and balanced way, supports so many bodily functions and immunity response and even lowers risks of chronic disease. The reality is we don’t prioritise this daily need and our body, mood and health suffers. So, stop and take the time, even once a week, to plan out all your meals and snacks. Focus on a balanced plate of half vegetables/fruit, one quarter protein rich food, one quarter fibre rich carbohydrate and a small topping of healthy fats. These meals will not only help to keep you satisfied, but they help to balance your sugar-levels and can stabilise your energy and focus throughout the day. Meal prep is an excellent way to help stay consistent with what you eat and when you eat. Supermarkets also have many healthy fast options, to cut out much of the food prep time, for instance using pre-cut vegetables or microwaveable rice.
    3. Meditation; Mindful in May, encourages everyone to meditate daily for at least 10 minutes, to reset and refresh our thoughts and feelings. When practicing meditation, rather than switch off your mind, use it as an opportunity to gain a sense of awareness of your mind; the way you think and feel, without any kind of judgement.  It will help build a healthy sense of perspective and have a positive impact on your mental health. Life In Mind states, “Paying attention to what is happening to your body, both physically and emotionally, helps you to identify when something is affecting you. It is important to take time out when you need it to reduce feelings of stress and protect your mental health.”
    4. Sleep; we all know we need it but according to the Sleep Health Foundation, four out of ten Australian adults report insufficient sleep on a daily or several-days-a-week basis. This means that almost half the population of Australia is walking around in a haze from lack of shut-eye. The Sleep Health Foundation shares that “Sleep is a fundamental biological need which is essential for recuperation, memory consolidation, performance, learning and emotional well-being. Inadequate sleep, in all its forms, has detrimental impacts on physical and mental health, daytime alertness, mood, work performance and accident risk.” So, take this advice as permission to just go to bed, well at least start implementing some healthy behaviours to improve the quantity and quality of your sleep. The Harvard Division of Sleep Medicine shared the top recommendations from Sleep doctors: maintain a regular sleep-wake schedule; avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and other chemicals that interfere with sleep; make your bedroom a comfortable sleep environment; establish a calming pre-sleep routine; go to bed when you’re truly tired; don’t watch the clock at night; use light to your advantage by exposing yourself to light during the day and limiting light exposure in the evening; don’t nap too close to your regular bedtime; eat and drink enough, but not too much or too soon before bedtime; and exercise regularly, but not too soon before bedtime.

After some self-assessment you may realise there are a few things you need to change to start actioning these healthy behaviours into your self-care routine. A good place to start is to review this list and identify one or two key areas that you want to focus on and what small incremental changes you can implement to start. It is much more realistic to start small and build more changes into your routine, than to try to change everything all at once.  Lastly, don’t be afraid to seek the help of a professional, whether that is a personal trainer, nutritionist or psychologist, these experts are trained to give us the best tools to look after ourselves.

In most instances, these items are in your control to improve or change, however an additional element of self-care, that you may not have considered, is coming to an understanding and acceptance of what is really is in your control. We cannot easily manage or change the people or environment around us, so instead assess ways you can begin to advocate for positive change, whether that is at home or at work. For instance, we have seen staff who work in healthcare organisations, advocate for Core Schedule’s scheduling tools to be implemented within their systems. Thanks to their encouragement, now all their staff have a real-time view of their schedule giving them a clearer picture and more control over their time inside and outside the workplace, leading to improved work-life balance.

To help you get started download our info pack and share with the relevant management heads, to make the change.