10 Tips to Enhance Self-Care, Well-Being, and Productivity
The conditions we endured during COVID-19 brought to light how many adults neglect self-care. Even sequestered at home and not commuting, you hear comments such as:
- Where was the time to exercise?
- Isn’t it indulgent to take time to reach out or prepare nutritious meals?
- I use to meditate, but I don’t have time now with the kids home from school.
What is self-care, and why is it critical for well-being—and productivity?
Self-care includes staying physically healthy, eating well, engaging in physical exercise, getting ample sleep, and managing stress. Self-care also provides booking appointments with physicians and dentists who you might not have been able to see in the last months.
Although you seek greater productivity, how can a tired mind or body focus, concentrate, and complete tasks? With high uncertainty and stress about current and future conditions with jobs, school, and politics, we need to commit to self-care. As we gain feelings of self-control and well-being, we gain the mental agility and endurance to forge ahead and meet the challenges that lie before us.
Here are 10 Ways to commit to self-care, less stress, and greater productivity:
- Take joy in nature. Take a walk in nature. Go to a different place you have not been to before. Look for colors, listen to sounds, smell the aromas, and feel the various textures surrounding you. Is there a garden in town or a botanical garden? “Being open to small wonders while on a stroll could help improve mental health (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/30/well/move/an-awe-walk-might-do-wonders-for-your-well-being.html.) What about noticing the birds’ and bringing some seeds to spread around? Have you considered gardening?
- Develop a routine. Even a mini schedule for a few hours 5 days a week provides structure and certainty. For many, daily exercise or a brief time to plan provides a framework to start or end the day. Select something that you like to do. For some, cooking one meal a week for friends or family provides a weekly commitment (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/05/at-home/benefit-from-a-fall-routine.html.)
- Protect your vision. Too many adults and children are glued to computer screens or phones for 4, 6, or 8 hours a day. Finished with work or school, we allow digital devices to become the “go-to” way of relaxing. Avoid eye fatigue and strain by staying at least 18 inches from your screen. Adults, as well as children, need to take frequent breaks. One suggestion for children is to look up every 20 minutes, look up at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/17/parenting/kids-eyesight-distance-learning-coronavirus.html.)
- Get those ZZZs. It seems so simple to say, “You need your sleep to cope and be productive.” However, sleep is always a critical factor, especially during times of stress and changing times. If you are not getting at least 7 hours of restful sleep, 4-5 nights a week, try a few tips to get more healthy sleep. Set a reasonable time to slip into slumber at least four nights a week, Charge electronic devices in another room, avoid caffeine, and try meditation or mindfulness audios to de-stress (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/search/research-news/9053/.)
- Engage in musical activities. Listening to music can reduce anxiety improve sleep quality, mood, mental alertness, and memory. Processed in the non-cognitive part of our brain, music can lift our spirits or comfort us (https://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-music.) Might you play an instrument, listen to music, watch a concert, join a chorus, enjoy karaoke, or sing in the shower?
- Enjoy Humor. Do you believe in laughter’s power to enhance physical and mental well-being? Research indicates that laughter, whether you do it or watch it, you activate the neural pathways of emotions like joy and delight (https://www.rappler.com/science/life-health/laughing-is-good-for-your-mind-and-your-body-heres-what-the-research-shows.) Humor and laughter reduce stress and help you share life’s difficulties and joy. Tell a joke, share a cartoon, or email a funny story: Humor and laughter help to keep your stress down and your enjoyment up.
- Rev up the exercise. Nothing replaces the many benefits of regular exercise. And, you don’t have to engage in high-intensity interval training. Consider a half-hour of moderate exercise or even a 20-minute walk (with or without the dog). Don’t ignore the benefits. For example, exercise helps lower stress, control weight, promote better sleep, boost energy, improve mood, and contribute to mental agility (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389.)
- Dabble in arts and crafts. You can enjoy self-expression and creativity when you dabble in arts and crafts. Don’t aspire to professional excellence. Just enjoy the flow of drawing and painting or the texture and manipulation of knitting. Such activities allow you to enhance focus and enjoy the fruits of your labor. During the pandemic, there were museum exhibits of all types of art and photography.
- Benefit from Yoga, Meditation, and Mindfulness. If you want an activity that is research-based and field-tested, then Yoga is something to consider. Based on breathing, you learn to relax your body and mind (https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-minute-benefits-of-yoga/.) Are you aware of the numerous benefits of meditation? You can gain a new perspective on a stressful situation, focus on the present, reduce negative emotions and increase imagination and patience. Consider using an app such as Headspace (https://www.headspace.com/science/meditation-benefits) or Calm (https://www.calm.com/.)
- Begin to a journal. Reports indicate that keeping a journal can be a beneficial self-care practice (https://thrive.kaiserpermanente.org/thrive-together/live-well/everyone-keep-journal-7-surprising-benefits.) Any journaling is helpful. For some, journaling means writing thoughts as they happen. For others, it means listing things for which you are grateful, and for still others, it means logging in actual events, describing dreams, or making sketches. Morning or evening activity, journaling can help you focus on your goals, reduce stress, find inspiration, and provide self-expression.
Of course, it is best to start small and manageable. Reach out to others when you want to engage in a new activity and keep track of times you don’t follow through. Find the barriers and be creative when chipping away at the conditions that stop you from turning your good intentions into actions.
Ask, “To what degree have I engaged in self-care in the last weeks?” If you have been unable to move toward your self-care goals and your productivity is lagging, it may be time to reach out to family, friends, or professionals. Reaching out to someone gives you a different perspective and helpful strategies. Start by jotting down your thoughts and identifying someone who might help.
Questions about ways to can increase self-care and productivity? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up for a free, 20-minute coaching session at www.managingyourmind.com