Boring Self-Help Tips That Really Work

If you’re social media looks anything like mine you are no doubt inundated with posts and information around a large number of self-help methods or practices that you can incorporate into your life to improve your personal or professional outcomes. Many of these are really superfluous and a waste of time (including 99% of the inspirational memes that you might see). Whilst nice and fun can feel good - hello bubble bath, often its the boring and practical things that actually work. Ok so they don’t make for good photos or Instagram stories, but they get the results. Here are some small but not insignificant ways you practice self-care in your life.  

Mindfulness:

Mindfulness is a buzz word at the moment but from my perspective the hype is real. I have found that practicing mindfulness has taught my brain to pay more attention to every area of my life from eating, to exercise, to work and even sleep. It has certainly improved these areas of my life by boosting my focus and concentration levels and allowing me to compartmentalise what is important in my life on a day-to-day basis. 

Take a couple of big breaths:

Stop right now. Stop that shallow breathing. We spend most of the day activating our sympathetic nervous system (SNS) — the branch of our autonomic nervous system responsible for seeing and reacting to threats — by breathing into our chests, or shallow breathing. But we can also deactivate this fight or flight response by taking deep breaths. All you need to do is stop, and put your hand on your stomach. Make sure that when you breathe in your stomach expands, pushing your stomach and hand out away from your body. Take slow, deep breaths for a minute. Check in with yourself and feel how much your mental state can change with just a couple of breaths.

Drink water constantly:

Nothing will give you brain fog faster than a good bout of dehydration. And if you’re already anxious in the workplace, the last thing you want is to feel like you underperformed in a meeting because your head was foggy. Consistently sipping water will also help you feel the difference between true hunger and thirst. That could also help keep you from hitting the vending machine. 

Maintain social networks:

This doesn’t mean checking in on Facebook every 5 minutes but is more around planning regular social outings. This may seem like a no-brainer tip and one that is easy to implement but it is an area that is often overlooked and when this happends you are more susceptible to stress and burnt out. I know from experience when I allow myself to take advantage of social outings more regularly I feel better for it and more capable of taking getting through my work each day without feeling overdone.

Stick to your budget:

You’ll see a lot of people suggest that buying yourself something is a good part of self-care. Well, yes and no. Does the occasional coffee shop latte have the power to turn around your mood some days? Absolutely. But you know what does a number on your stress levels? That credit card bill you know you’re not going to be able to pay in full. Financial stress is real, and it wreaks havoc on our mental health and our relationships. So save yourself the acid stomach and the shock of that sky-high statement by actually sticking to your budget, especially on weekends when you’re tempted to shop till you drop. (If you haven't got a budget take this as a big hint.) 

Plan your holidays:

This is a must for me as I always have a break or holiday in the works that I am working toward and can look forward to. Often the first thing I do when I return from one holiday is start planning my next one in order to feel like I am working toward something and not just going through the motions with nothing to look forward to. Taking some time away from your work to look at your itinerary or research things to do is a great way to escape and unwind and keep yourself motivated. Just remember your budget and plan your breaks accordingly. 

Read a book:

When I need to escape my stressors I turn to a book. Reading is a great way to escape reality, offer perspective, see characters triumph over adversity, learn tips and clear your mind.

Reward yourself:

Afford yourself a personal reward from time to time, especially after you’ve done a great job on a tough project or hit your monthly targets. It doesnt have to be anything huge that will kill your budget, even something that doesnt cost can do wonders. My favourite reward is some alone time where I send my partner and the kids off for a few hours so I can chill out in my own company - ok so this is when the bubble bath might come into play. 

Prioritise sleep:

Getting those eight hours of uninterrupted sleep is the best thing you can do for yourself. Sleep has a profound impact on your cognitive, emotional, and physical functioning. In a very real and tangible way, tomorrow will look much better after a good night of sleep. You deserve that. 

Unplug: 

Instagram and Facebook have some benefits, but does it really make you feel better to expose yourself to everyone’s online versions of themselves? Most often people only report on their success, and so it can be hard when you’re comparing your entire life to everyone’s highlight reels. Take the time to break away from social media, and allow yourself to focus on the beauty of the moment.

Plan your meals:

Everyone wants to eat well and find food that's good for them, but it's hard to cook or plan meals when you're busy. When I have deadlines on my tail, I'm much more likely to reach for a takeaway rather than make myself a healthy meal. To overcome this problem I find planning is key. I choose a week’s worth of meals when I do the shopping, so I know I’ve got healthy meals ready to go. Each morning I check what commitments I have and plan how I’ll fit my eating plan around that. 

Exercise regularly:

Regular exercise can transform your life. I haven’t been able to exercise as much as I used to since having kids and when I go without it for too long I see the difference in how I think, how much I get done and how much energy I have. As Richard Branson says "one hour of exercise equals four extra hours of productivity". Make time for exercise, it will give time back to you in spades.

Say no:

Most often, stress is caused by having too much to do and too little time to do it. Reduce your workload, prioritise your to-do list, and manage your time more effectively. This requires saying ‘no’ more often, which is perfectly fine and will normal once you start to do it more often.  

Remember self-care is something we all need to practice, regardless of how stressful our life is. Too much stress leads to burnout, so looking after ourselves and minimising stress is important for our mental health and physical wellbeing. 

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