Self-care may be both a buzzword and a sales technique these days, but incorporating self-care actions, even ones that seem small or silly, throughout your day can boost your mood and improve mental health.
During your day:
- Prevent screen fatigue by looking at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. Then, drink some water.
- Every hour, get up and move around for 2 minutes. Listen to a favorite song (sing or move along!) Try these stretches for at your desk or in the car.
- Every 3-4 hours, eat something. Include some protein (it’ll keep you fuller longer) like cheese, hard boiled egg, or a pouch of chicken or tuna. Avoid processed sugar and go for fruit instead. Pick fresh fruit when you can as the water content will keep you hydrated and fuller longer.
- Drink some water with a little lemon, cucumber or mint.
- Deepen your breathing, focusing on long, slow breaths both in and out.
- Wash your face or run a cool, damp cloth across the back of your neck and your wrists.
- Eat an apple, some grapes or other fruit.
- Deepen your breathing, focusing on exhaling fully and completely.
- Create a 1-item to do list with your most urgent priority. Write it down, do it, then cross it off.
- Repeat a positive, calming mantra: I’ve got this. I’m good at what I do. I can handle this challenge.
- Vent to a friend, out loud to yourself, or type it out – but limit yourself to 5 minutes of venting.
- Do 10-20 reps of a plyometric exercise like jump squats, burpees or broad jumps or do 30 seconds of high knees running in place or jumping jacks.
- Change your perspective – sit somewhere else, preferably with an outside view.
- Keep a folder of things that inspire you, especially your own work
- Do a word or number puzzle.
- Create a transition ritual to physically and mentally shift out of work mode.
- Physically end your day by closing the computer, putting away your camera and tripod or shutting the door of your office space.
- Mentally unwind
- Pat yourself on the back for getting through the day. Remind yourself of one thing that went well. If you can’t think of anything, think about what you learned from something that didn’t go so well.
- Take a shower, change clothes, light a candle or put fuzzy slippers or your favorite sweats on.
- Ask yourself if today you have smiled, laughed or cried. Each can be a powerful release, so pull up your favorite teary movie or comedy special.
- If you’re doing a passive activity like watching TV and your mind is wandering, hit pause and take a few intentional minutes to deconstruct your day. Then try a more mentally engaging activity.
- Take a walk outside. Try to actively observe your surroundings: flowers, birds, scents.
- Cook or bake a simple meal or dessert.
- Try drawing, painting, coloring, knitting or gardening – Something that keeps your hands active, is engaging but not overstimulating and includes repetition.
At the end of the day:
- Use the downtime, do not disturb, screen time and app limits functions on your phone to block access to social media and other apps at least 30 minutes before bed.
- If you have trouble kicking the scrolling habit, stick to apps that don’t increase anxiety: games, crossword puzzles, Tik Tok dances or an Instagram just of baby animals.
- If you can’t avoid screens before bed, shift your phone or other screen’s display colors warmer (blue light keeps you awake).
- Create a bedtime routine including low, warm lights, lavender or chamomile tea or essential oils, meditating, journaling or reading.
Self-care is not a substitute for mental health care. If you or someone on your team is experiencing symptoms of:
seeking help from a qualified mental health care professional is key.
Nor can self-care or mental health care fix toxic workplace environments or substitute for building healthy, inclusive and supportive newsroom cultures.