By Maya Lightfoot, PSP Ottawa Health Promotion
Every Valentine’s Day, we think about how to show love and appreciation to another person. Why not show yourself some love and appreciation? We always hear “you can’t take care of others unless you don’t take care of yourself first”. So… take some time for some self-care this month, and every day after that. Self-care is about improving your overall health in every way. Here are some tips that can help you decide where to start:
- Sleep more! Health Canada and Canadian Sleep Society recommend “Getting the sleep you need for optimal learning, productivity, safety, and health”. Try getting a minimum of 7 hours each night (tips for a better night sleep are included in link). It can improve every aspect of your life.
- Meet with some friends: Having a strong support network is the number one factor in recovery. Plan “girls or boys” night out; schedule fun activities to do with friends, go out for a coffee or just chat on the phone. Staying connected is a great way to feel happiness and love.
- Learn the art of mindfulness; Mindfulness is about living/being in the present moment. The benefits of mindfulness practice bring positive improvements in both physical and psychological health. How do I be mindful? Sit quietly and focus on (one thing) like your breathing. Allow thoughts and emotions to come and go without judgment and return your focus on your breath. Find more stress management techniques in a Stress Management workshop.
- Learn to cook healthy meals: “You are what you eat”. So why not be healthy, full of life and “zesty”… Eating is the spice of life. Learn to use new flavours, new foods and new methods. Cooking classes are a great way to socialize, and create a new, life-long healthy habit of feeding your body the nutrients it needs. Find out more about healthy nutrition in a Weight Wellness or Nutrition 101 workshop.
- Improve your happiness: Happiness comes from within. You are in charge of making conscious steps to make your life happier. Start with the basics, like eating well, sleeping enough and exercising regularly. Next most important thing: Expressing gratefulness daily. Be grateful for things, experiences or people in your life, and feelings of happiness will grow.
- Try something new: Step out of your comfort zone and learn a new skill. It’s fun to be challenged, stimulating your brain and having fun trying something different. “…Learning is like a health club for your brain. It’s an all-around fantastic tool for better health.” Examples might be trying laugh or puppy yoga; rock climbing; ballroom dancing; a musical instrument, a communication course, try a new sport or craft… Possibilities are endless, as long as it’s fun for you.
- Indulge: To really take care of yourself, you need to treat yourself once in a while… buy some expensive wine, coffee or dark chocolate and savour every bite; take a hot bath or go to a spa to enjoy some quiet time just for you. Go watch a movie or go to the theatre. There is also nothing wrong with retail-therapy, as long as the new item brings you joy. Go for it, you are worth it!
- Let others take care of you: Sometimes, we just need to let go of some control and let others take care of you… Order dinner, or go out for a meal; book a massage (use those benefits); get a pedicure (yes, men too can enjoy pedis); get a fresh haircut, or stay in bed as long as you can, and let someone else bring you breakfast in bed. It’s okay to be treated by others on Valentine’s Day, as you would do the same for someone else. Be your own Valentine!
This post is also available in: Français (French)