When you narrow things down to the basics, self-care isn’t that complicated: Try to eat well, exercise regularly, get enough sleep. However, these simple habits can prove extremely difficult to build. It takes time and a lot of trial and error to find a self-care routine that works for you, but sometimes we just need a more immediate health boost. Here are a few easy things to incorporate into your routine that will have you feeling better within days or even minutes.
Drink More Water
You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating. Lack of hydration can have several negative effects, including lethargy and decreased brain performance. If you are not drinking the recommended two liters (approximately half a gallon or eight 8-ounce glasses) a day, doing this can have a huge impact on how you feel mentally and physically.
This is especially important in the summer and after exercise, since this is when we sweat the most. The easiest way to drink more water is to carry around a reusable water bottle and keep it within sight throughout the day — read New York Magazine’s breakdown of the best water bottles on the market to choose a model that will have you reaching for water all day long.
Take a Multivitamin
Few of us can say we eat perfectly all the time. A daily multivitamin can make up for the times when your diet isn’t providing you with all the nutrients you need; other benefits include improved skin, better gut health, and increased energy levels, to name a few. Just make sure you select a vitamin that has a good balance of all the nutrients you need (including polyphenols for gut health), and that contains the bioavailable form of key nutrients. This means that a higher proportion of the nutrient actually enters your body.
Exercise routines easily go out the window the second our schedules start getting busier, but keeping our body moving is crucial for good health. While you may not always be able to fit in a lunchtime jog, there is always time for a five-minute stretch. This daily routine by Apartment Therapy is easy to do anywhere, and provides an invigorating full-body stretch that will give your body a rest from its sitting position at work.
Good posture keeps our body healthy by ensuring there is no excessive strain on any given muscles or joints. With most people spending the bulk of their day sitting, it is especially important to sit up straight. Start by learning what good sitting posture looks like, and shift into it every time you remember to. It may take a while for this to feel natural, but you may find yourself feeling more energetic just by trying.
More specifically, learn to harness breathing to create a relaxation response. Deep breathing can help us avoid the fight-or-flight response associated with intense stress and anxiety, making us feel calmer within minutes.
There are several ways to support this relaxation, from meditation to yoga to prayer, but you can also simply accompany your deep breathing with a soothing visual or sound. Calmsound is a great resource for this, with an extensive library of relaxing nature sounds that are the perfect soundtrack to your deep breathing sessions.
Speaking of nature, simply going outside to see some can have an extraordinary effect on your mental well-being. Research on the matter has shown that even the smallest exposure to nature is beneficial — you don’t have to go for a hike every day. Small things, such as walking through a leafy area and having a view of some plants from your desk, can help make you feel more relaxed, focused, and positive.
A healthy lifestyle is not just made up of big concepts like diet and exercise. There are plenty of small habits that can have a large impact on how you feel. These are usually easy to implement and have quicker short-term effects, meaning they are a great place to start if you are overwhelmed by the idea of changing your lifestyle.