When it comes to your health and well-being, you probably stay on top of your doctor and dentist appointments, with the odd massage or therapy session thrown in for good measure.
But you're likely still finding yourself overtired, stressed out and too busy on the regular. Those three complaints might as well be the mantra of our times, signaling the need for a more holistic approach to our health.
Even if you're pressed for time, these simple self-care practices can be incorporated into your daily routine to kickstart a healthier and happier you.
1. Stay hydrated.
This one's a no-brainer but many of us still don't drink enough fluids. Dietitians of Canada recommends about nine cups of fluid per day for women over 19 years old, and 12 cups for men. While milk, coffee, tea and broth count towards your daily fluid intake, good old-fashioned H2O is obviously the best choice.
To maximize your fluid intake, carry a bottle of water with you and keep it close by throughout the day. We love this insulated version by Bobble because it really lives up to its promise of keeping beverages cold for up to 24 hours. (We've forgotten ours in the car on a hot summer day, only to come back to refreshing, cold water hours later).
2. Eat well.
Buy organic when you can (especially the dirty dozen) and most importantly, eat balanced meals drawn from the four food groups, taking extra care to include whole grains, dark, leafy greens, and lean protein.
If you haven't got the time (or desire) to shop for groceries, try an organics delivery service in your area. We like Toronto-based Basqet for their farmer's market spin on home organics delivery. They source all their offerings from the city's best markets (no warehouses here!) and their scope goes beyond organic produce to include naturally-raised meat and poultry, as well as artisanal ready-made dishes. They currently deliver to the GTA.
3. Get more sleep.
The average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep each night to feel refreshed. If you're off the mark, making sure you get enough shut-eye is a simple self-care practice that can have a big impact on your daily life. It can improve everything from your productivity at work to the quality of your personal relationships.
To get a good night's rest, turn in at a time that makes it possible for you to strive for the recommended number of hours (after all, you'll always be running a sleep deficit if you go to bed at midnight and set your alarm for 6 a.m.). It's recommended to avoid screen time for at least three hours before bed because the light emitted from your devices prevents your brain from releasing sleep-inducing melatonin. But since that sounds virtually impossible, you might consider using a screen dimmer like f.lux for your laptop or Twilight for your phone.
And finally, maximize your rest with a natural sleep aid, like the Restful Sleep Remedy by Saje Natural Wellness. The blend of essential oils is meant to be rolled onto the soles of your feet before bed to promote a deep and restful sleep.
4. Remove your makeup.
You'd think this one is another given, but we rarely take the time to remove our makeup at night and we know we're not alone. Don't think we're not aware of just how gross it is. It makes us feel bad. Every. Single. Morning. So if you're like us, incorporate this simple task into your bedtime routine for the sake of your skin and your psyche.
Consider using The Makeup Eraser, a reusable cloth that removes all makeup — including waterproof mascara and eyeliner — with just water. We like it because not only is it easy and effective, but it can be washed and reused up to 1,000 times, saving on the waste created by disposable makeup remover wipes, too.
5. Keep a journal.
Writing in a journal for 15 minutes each day, or even just a few times a week, has a host of mental health benefits — and some researchers have even cited journaling as an immune-booster and an aid in treating the symptoms of various diseases.
Mentally, writing about stressful events is cathartic, helping people deal with negative emotions and thereby relieving stress. In other instances, journalling can simply be used to practice gratitude and experience the associated positive emotions more fully, or to bring your mind into sharper focus in a mindfulness journalling practice.
6. Take five.
Whether you choose a guided meditation or simply sit in silence for a few minutes of mindfulness, taking some time out of each day to just be with yourself can have a profound effect on your health. Research has identified sharper mental focus, decreased stress levels, and even increased creativity as just a few of the benefits of meditation.
7. Get into nature.
Walking in nature has been proven to decrease activity in the part of your brain responsible for rumination and that is also linked to risk for mental illness. In 2015, a study tested people before and after a walk in nature to find that their negative thoughts had decreased. In Japan, the healing benefits of the forest are widely recognized, and people practice Shinrin-yoku or “forest baths,” which are essentially slow, meditative walks through the woods with a sharp focus on your surroundings; cellphones not welcome.