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November 7, 2020 | Written by Brad Russell

The Ultimate Guide to Self-Care for Busy People

Businessman doing sports in office during breakSelf-care refers to the act of taking deliberate action to conserve and protect one’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

The pillars of self-care typically involve daily physical activity, good nutrition, quality sleep, and stress management. Unfortunately, many individuals describe themselves as “too busy” for self-care as they adjust to new social norms.

With the right creativity, however, you can give self-care the prioritization it deserves. The following guide can help you troubleshoot your self-care skills to support your personal well-being.


Divide Workouts Into Increments

Although plenty of people can see the merits of getting 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five times a week, many individuals find it hard to block off time within their hectic schedules. The reality is that while a person can have every intention of working out for 30 minutes at the same time each day, outside demands and personal responsibilities can thwart these plans entirely.

Fortunately, the new recommendation is to take a “divide and conquer” approach to fitness. This means that instead of the standard 30 minutes, you can break your workout up into two 15-minute segments or three 10-minute segments. For example, try waking up only 15 minutes earlier for a short aerobic routine, and then do 15 minutes of Pilates before going to bed. If you prefer guided exercise, YouTube channels such as BeFitDenise Austin, or PopSugar Fitness all provide segments in just the right length for shorter workouts.


Set an Alarm for Bed

Most people associate alarm clocks for getting up on time in the morning. However, many health professionals now recommend setting an alarm for when it is time to get ready for bed. Known colloquially as the “wind-down alarm,” this alert can help you develop a consistent nighttime regimen. It is also an important strategy to increase the likelihood that you go to bed at the recommended time and thereby get enough sleep.

Keep in mind that this alarm does not have to feel disruptive. Schedule this alert for around 15 minutes before your recommended bedtime. Use this time to remove contacts, brush teeth, and perform any skincare rituals. You can also take an evening nutritional supplement or catch up on a few pages of quick reading. If you need a little more motivation to set a nighttime alert, try a free mobile (such as the Calm app) to slowly acclimate toward achieving a consistent bedtime.


Find the Best Stress Busters for Your Personality

Stairs to successAccording to the National Institutes of Health, personality traits can play a huge role in your body’s physiological and emotional response to stress. Since everyone responds to stress in different ways, it is best to find stress hacks best suited for your personality.

Try taking a science-based stress personality test from a reputable source (such U.C. Berkeley Science Center) and apply solutions based on your personality type. Based on your individual disposition, solutions can range from investing in virtual networking to establishing firm boundaries for your alone time.


Supercharge Your Nutrition With Whole Foods

When stocking your refrigerator or pantry, consider swapping out the simple carbohydrates and processed foods for whole foods. Health professionals advise using whole foods to increase your intake of antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients that may boost overall wellness.

The most-recommended whole foods include those rich in omega-3s in fatty fish, vitamins C, and vitamin B6. You can obtain these recommended nutrients directly from foods like avocado and salmon, or you can try adding a nutritional supplement to increase your daily intake.


Take Advantage of Lifestyle Changes

With many individuals spending much more time at home than in previous years, it is understandable that some people feel as if they have fallen into a rut. However, there are ways to use new lifestyle rules to your advantage.

For example, if you are more likely to stay at home than go to the movie theater these days, schedule an indoor retreat or movie weekend. And instead of watching just any movie, focus on the top movies or television shows that focus on building resilience. In this way, you can study the traits of some of the most inspirational people in history without enrolling in a class or feeling as if you are taking on extra work.


Reorganize a Small Area of Your Home

Woman cleaning the houseWhile reorganizing your entire home can feel like a daunting task, reorganizing or repurposing a specific area of your home is a great way to engage in self-care.

According to the Mayo Clinic, spaces with large amounts of clutter may actually increase feelings of stress and anxiety. Furthermore, studies from the National Library of Health have shown that people who describe their personal spaces as “disorganized” are more likely to demonstrate higher levels of the stress-hormone cortisol.

Address the issue of disorganization and clutter by tackling a small area like your favorite nook or “junk drawer.” If you feel unsure about where to start, consider using the Marie Kondo method for simplifying your organization process. These steps include the following:

  1. Commit to tidying up at least one area. This can be as simple as tidying your top drawer or just one shelf in your home.
  2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle. Improving this small area is one step closer to reaching this goal.
  3. Discard unwanted or unneeded items first. Most people find it easier to “let go” of unnecessary items by first thanking them for serving their purpose.
  4. Organize objects by category (rather than current location).
  5. Follow a checklist for your desired space, and make sure that you go in the right order.
  6. Before keeping any optional object, ask yourself whether it sparks joy.


The Bottom Line

Although life’s challenges may feel unavoidable, practicing self-care is an important way to support your personal well-being. By committing to small steps and self-care hacks, you can customize a regimen that supports your unique lifestyle and long-term goals.