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Would you relocate or sell a treasured item to have more time for self-care?
Roughly, one-third of Americans who participated in a recent Vagaro survey would. In fact, the desire for more self-care opportunities is on the rise as people find themselves craving relief from stress, chronic conditions, and other problems in the world around them.
You don’t have to take drastic, sudden actions to start prioritizing self-care, though. Grandiose resolutions and overpromising can be untenable or require too much sacrifice in the long run. However, intentionally incorporating wellness and self-care throughout your day lays the groundwork for a more sustainable self-care regimen in the long term.
What is sustainable self-care?
It’s the practice of not only acknowledging the importance of self-care, but also baking self-care into your everyday choices and behaviors. Over time, self-care becomes ingrained in every facet of your lifestyle, rather than being a to-do item that’s completed when you can get to it.
This mindset shift requires that you renew and reimagine your commitment to self-care.
Below are a few easy ways to do so:
1. Pinpoint specific areas for targeted self-care
The self-care trend is a wide umbrella that ultimately means something different to everyone because it encompasses eight wellness categories: physical, psychological, emotional, social, professional, environmental, spiritual, and financial. What does it mean to you? Would you like to have fewer depressive episodes? To finally sleep through the night without restlessly waking up several times? Or have enough energy to stay alert throughout the day? You have to identify your wellness goals before you can sustainably incorporate any practices into your daily routine.
Once you’ve identified your self-care “why,” you can start looking for your self-care “how.” For instance, if you struggle with insomnia, covering yourself with a weighted blanket could help. Weighted blankets are typically no fewer than five pounds and offer deep-touch therapy. Many people respond well to the stimulation (think of a comfortable, firm “bear hug”) and say that it relaxes and calms them.
As you explore specific practices like this, you also have an opportunity to learn and research. To continue the example above, weighted blanket believers have reported everything from a better night’s rest to less physical pain. Although science has just begun to investigate weighted blankets, the early accounts are encouraging. In a 2020 four-week study, weighted blanket users described improved sleep and reduced anxiety. Another six-week study showed similar sleep quality findings.
Information like this can help you make an informed decision about your self-care practices moving forward.
2. Automate some of your self-care routines
Is time working against your self-care objectives? That’s where automation can give you a much-needed assist. We’ve become adept at automating much of our lives anyway—having groceries delivered, paying bills via auto payment, and so forth. Why not automate self-care, too?
Pick an item from your self-care priority list, such as wanting to feel less drained by the time your head hits the pillow. Then, look for automated ways to sustain your self-care goal. You might decide to use infrared-powered fabrics—like infrared-infused sheets or apparel—and let the infrared therapy do its job without requiring anything extra of you. Infrared technology can operate as sustained self-care. Whether you are working out, working at your desk, lounging on the couch, or sleeping, infrared-infused clothing and fabrics will be working in the background.
Not familiar with infrared technology or the benefits of infrared heat?
Infrared therapy relies on infrared light to penetrate about one inch into the skin safely. Infrared light is known to increase local circulation, not to mention improve cellular oxygenation, resulting in faster recovery from physical activity. Even wearing infrared-infused clothing, like workout gear or pajamas, could lead to faster recovery from workouts or a long day at work.
3. Keep track of your self-care responses
Of course, the million-dollar question about self-care is this: How will you know it’s working? You might feel different—but is it the difference you need? The only way to find out is to keep some kind of record. That way, you can plot the data and measure your self-care success.
This doesn’t have to be difficult or too involved. For instance, you could create a numbering system from one to 10. Let’s say you decide to use an acupressure mat to stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system and combat arthritis pain. After reading reports of the many acupressure mat benefits—think the 2014 study that showed acupressure might reduce dental pain, or the 2019 analysis that concluded acupuncture and acupressure could lower physical discomfort in individuals diagnosed with cancer, you could buy a mat and use it each morning.
At the same time each day, you record your pain level using that one to 10 scale. As long as you keep using your mat and noting your progress, you’ll collect valuable information. Within about a month or so, you should be able to spot any trends. Maybe your pain levels clocked in at a seven at the beginning of the month and a five after using the acupressure mat for four weeks. At the end of these kinds of trials, you’ll have a better idea of what works and what’s not worth pursuing.
By plotting your self-care journey and responses systematically, you’ll gather key insights. You’ll also stay motivated as you begin to see (and feel) changes in your mind, body, and spirit.
Self-care isn’t a jargon, and it isn’t silly. It’s necessary for you to live your life to the fullest, and folding it into your routine is easier than you might have thought.
Work to make it a sustainable part of your daily practices, and you’ll find that it’s not a commitment you can’t really commit to—but rather an essential part of your life.