Self-care is such a popular buzzword that it can be hard to understand what the term means, let alone what counts as self-care. Broadly speaking, self-care is anything you do to care for your physical, mental and emotional well-being. However, not all self-care tips can provide therapeutic benefits that promote general well-being.
That's why Dr. Karen Litzy, a licensed physical therapist based in the US, has shared her top five at-home self-care tips that provide real therapeutic and wellness benefits.
1. Incorporate movement and exercise throughout your day
According to the American Heart Association, adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week and participate in strength training exercise two times per week. These guidelines can lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression and pain as well as improve overall quality of life.
One option is to join a gym, but there are several other ways to engage in aerobic exercise, like taking a brisk walk around your neighborhood, local park or sports field. As for strength training, you can do bodyweight exercises like pushups and squats or classes like Pilates or yoga.
Also, you don't even have to do your workout all in one sitting. You can schedule 10- to 15-minute breaks in your day to take a quick walk or get in a few sets of squats. If you are new to exercise, check with your health care provider before starting.
2. Get enough sleep
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults require seven to eight hours of sleep per night to wake up feeling refreshed, and this may also decrease chances of developing chronic conditions. The CDC also says that lack of sleep has been linked to several chronic conditions, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression.
Some ways to improve sleep include:
* Shutting down all screens at least 30 minutes before bed
* Avoiding caffeine and fatty or sugary foods before bed
* Keeping your room at a cooler temperature
* Reducing the amount of light in your bedroom
* Taking a warm evening shower
3. Get (or give yourself) a massage
Massages are a great way to increase relaxation and reduce muscle soreness after a workout.
4. Engage in mindfulness meditation
Taking care of the mind is just as important as taking care of the body. Meditation is a great mindfulness practice that can help you manage stress and can provide a plethora of wellness benefits, according to a 2018 study in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research.
If you're new to meditation, Dr. Litzy suggests starting with five minutes daily and working up to a consistent 20-minute session daily.
5. Stay hydrated
Water helps to eliminate waste from your body, lubricates your joints, regulates your body temperature, protects your nervous system and other vital tissues in your body, and can help with weight management.
How much water should you get each day? According to the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, adult women should consume 2.7 liters and men 3.7 liters of water daily from beverages and food to be adequately hydrated. That means in addition to drinking more water, you can increase your water intake by eating fruits and vegetables like watermelon and spinach.
Self-care shouldn't be complicated. Using Dr. Litzy's five expert tips, you can create a wellness routine with therapeutic benefits that will have you feeling renewed even during a busy week.