Everyone can agree that the past couple years have been challenging, with constantly changing rules and regulations, increased distance from loved ones or extended time together with others, and heightened stress and fear surrounding safety and a changing life as you knew it.
With all of these factors introduced into the mix of your already demanding personal and professional life it is no wonder that self care is often one of the first elements to get pushed to the side; who can remember to adequately take care of themselves when there are so many other details going on? While this is a common attitude towards self care during heightened times of stress and confusion, such as during a global pandemic, following a proper self care routine is immensely important to your overall wellbeing.
Following a self care routine is proven to be beneficial to overall life expectancy: certain aspects of self care such as regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, sleeping more than seven hours a night, and feeling purpose in your life have all been proven to be linked to longer lifespan and shorter mortality rates. That’s enough of a reason to take structured care of yourself!
Self care refers to any act that aids in your overall health and wellbeing, and it’s usually thought to be self determined: this includes eating well, getting enough water intake, keeping your mind and body active and healthy, and cutting out negative influences from any area of your health. Essentially, as the stresses and demands of life become more insistent (such as faster expected turnaround time for communications due to technological advances and numerous platforms for reaching someone), the more important it is to take time for yourself to do something beneficial for your mind and body.
Everyone should be incorporating self care rituals into their daily routine to form healthy habits. We’ve asked top business owners and successful entrepreneurs their recommended tips for starting a beneficial self care routine, and their answers are packed with great advice for anyone wanting to start on their own health journey.
Kevin Guest, author, speaker, and CEO, recommends that everyone devote time to spend in the outdoors on a regular basis. He says it helps not only with clearing your mind and boosting positive mental energy but also in removing yourself from busy crowds.
“I learned firsthand that spending time in nature is therapeutic. It is obvious we are natural beings and while in such surroundings, we can almost feel ourselves uniting with nature. Look at this step as an escape, even for an hour, to fields and mountains, which can enrich our soul and quickly bring back balance and harmony. Doing simple acts like these gets us away from the crowds and allows us to spend solitude time to think and take personal inventory. That level of solitude time will likely become your favorite time of the week.” says Kevin Guest, Chairman and CEO of USANA Health Sciences.
It should be no surprise that of equal importance to incorporating healthy, beneficial self care practices into your life is cutting out negative, damaging influences. As much as technology can make our lives so much easier and convenient, statistics show that too much technology use–and too much of the wrong type of technology use, such as social media–can have severely damaging effects on a person’s mental wellbeing. Not only does too much screen time affect sleep, posture, and eyesight, an abundance of daily social media usage can lead to increasingly declining mental health. Depression rates alone have raised 63% in adults 18-25 during the last decade. This same age group has the highest adult age group rates of mental illness of any kind, so technology only exacerbates mental health concerns. However, Global Web Index found that those in the ages 16-24 spend an average of 3 hours and 1 minute on social media platforms each day. These statistics don’t just affect the younger demographic; every age group has seen increased numbers of technology use. This CEO’s top self care tip is to reduce screen time in smart ways.
“I’ve been focused recently on being intentional with my use of technology and social media, especially as it relates to work, so that I can be more present for myself and my family. Even as wellness entrepreneurs, it’s easy to forget about your own personal wellbeing. I am super thoughtful about how I use technology at home. There’s so much good in technology. For example, my daughters can maintain a relationship with their grandparents who live on a different coast. But if we don’t use technology thoughtfully, it can lead to mental anxiety and hours of unproductivity. I don’t ever bring a phone into my bedroom and have de-installed apps like Facebook that I find are time sucks, so that my phone only has the fundamentals on it that I find value in,” says Colleen Wachob, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Mindbodygreen.
You probably have an idea in your head about where you want to be in a few years. Maybe you’ve planned out every fine detail to the kind of clothes you want to wear to the way you want to spend your free time. While you may think that this kind of daydreaming is useless, the founder and CEO of Oxford Hill says it can actually be viewed as a self care exercise when you pair it with small steps towards change.
“My best self care tip is one that sets you up for success in the long run; everyone should consider their life as it currently exists and then picture their ideal life in the future. Brainstorm what you want your life to look like, from health to fitness to habits to productivity to personal goals etc. Then work each day towards making some aspect of your dream life happen. For example, make wise food choices today because you want to be healthy and nourished in the future, or work productively on that project you’ve always wanted to start for your future self. Essentially, start today to work towards your goals,” says Alvin Oommen, Founder and CEO of OXFORDhill.
You’ve heard it a thousand times: exercise leads to a healthier life. But it’s true! It wouldn’t be so repeated if it didn’t matter, since based on all the research that has been conducted, regular physical activity is proven to lead to numerous health benefits that improve quality of life. However, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that over 80% of Americans don’t get enough exercise.
“Daily physical exercise, be it simple movement like walking your dog or playing with your kids to an actual sport or workout, is more powerful to our mental and physical wellness than most of us realize. Incorporating daily movement into your self care ritual has been shown to help keep disease and sickness at bay, manage weight levels, lead to better sleep, and boost energy and positivity levels due to the release of endorphins. It’s a simple way to stay healthy and feel good,” says Cindy Le, Co-Founder and COO of Revela.
The people you interact with directly influence your mood. Certain studies even suggest that those around us can shape who we start to craft our identity after. Therefore, it is key to be selective about the people you surround yourself with.
“It’s important to foster positivity and encouragement in your relationships if you want to feel uplifted on a daily basis. Self care is not just something you do individually or in private; rather, since it is such a personal reflection of who you want to be and where you want to go, you should invite people you love and trust to go through your journey with you. Surround yourself with positive presences as part of your self care routine. When you make time to see your support group regularly, you receive the boost of encouragement and comfort to keep going every day,” says Miles Beckett, CEO and Co-Founder of Flossy.
Skin: you have no shortage of it on your bodies and it is one of the first things people notice about you. The skin on your face is generally more sensitive than that on your body, so it needs special daily attention known as a skin care routine. However, the CEO of MadeMan promises skin maintenance doesn’t have to be difficult.
“One way that we can reflect our health is through our skin. It’s super important to establish a regular skin care routine that you follow every day and night and it’s never too early or too late to start. Oftentimes people think skin care needs to be complicated and expensive but that is simply not true. At MadeMan we’ve created a 2 step skin care process you can follow for life; that’s all you have to do to make a lasting change. Our products are specifically targeted to men because they are the demographic far less likely to have an established, or really any type of skin care ritual. I want everyone to realize how essential proper skin maintenance is and that it doesn’t have to be complicated,” says Jeremy Gardner, CEO of MadeMan.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that adults who slept less than 7 hours a night were more likely to struggle with obesity and lack of physical activity. These are not the only negative side effects associated with lacking sleep levels. The CEO of Lofta reminds us that sleep is an essential function that should be prioritized.
“People sometimes don’t realize how much getting enough sleep affects their daily lives, even contributing to major health concerns that might arise. In fact, research compares sleep as equally important as diet and exercise. Adults should get at least seven hours of sleep a night for optimal performance during the day. While sleeping may feel like a nonaction, it is a crucial part of your self care routine if you want to truly care for your body and mind. Your memory, cognitive functioning, alertness, and energy levels will thank you,” says Jay Levitt, Founder and CEO of Lofta.
Remember how you used to find so much joy in something small as a child, such as a four leaf clover or a visit from a friend? Many adults tend to lose this kind of appreciation for the small details, but the founder and CEO of Bite Toothpaste explains how this kind of exuberance brings positivity and mindfulness into her life.
“The way to craft a truly beautiful joyful life is to appreciate the small details. While it may not be the most talked about aspect of self care, I find that positivity and enthusiasm increase my overall state of mind and improve my quality of life; when I’m focusing on the good around me I just feel better and more inspired to grow. One way I like to actively practice positivity is by spending time outside and paying attention to the sounds, sights, and smells around me. I let myself be grateful for the breeze, the views, the bird calls, the sunlight. This simple action can be considered as part of a healthy mental habit to help you feel like the best version of yourself,” says Lindsay McCormick, Founder and CEO of Bite.
Just as skin care is massively important for your overall well being and confidence, well cared for hair has the same effects. Whether you choose to flaunt your natural hair or not, whether you wear it long or short, and even regardless of whether your hair is something you choose to emphasize or largely ignore, you should incorporate a hair care routine into your self care ritual in order to ensure your tresses are receiving the nourishment and vitamins needed for optimal health. The co-founder of Particle stresses the importance of this.
“You are never too young or too old to start taking better care of your hair, but our products are specifically designed with aged hair in mind; specifically, we’ve formulated hair products that combine science and engineering to offer new life to aging, often neglected hair. Not only is it paramount to take care of your hair for your overall wellness but incorporating hair care into your regular routine will help you feel more confident about your appearance,” says Ayal Ebert, Co-Founder of Particle.
Feeding your body the proper ingredients it needs to function at optimal levels is crucial for overall healthiness but most Americans’ diets fall far short of what they should be. Most Americans don’t eat the recommended amount of nutrients found in vegetables, grains, fruits, and probiotics but far exceed healthy levels of sodium and fats in their foods. The Founder of The Natural Patch Co. says his main tip for self care is eating well.
“We need to properly fuel our bodies in order to get the most energy and health from them. Whether you ate well as a child or adolescent, it is never too late to craft wholesome habits. Processed foods contain sugars, preservatives, and empty calories that don’t nourish you, but eating a healthy diet including vegetables, grains, protein, vitamins, and nutrients is a great pattern that will benefit your body and mind. That isn’t to say that treats aren’t acceptable–it’s all about moderation. Focus on fueling your body but also let yourself feel joy at the special treats you eat,” says Michael Jankie, Founder of The Natural Patch Co.
In summary, there are many simple habits you can incorporate into your routine in order to practice self care. From caring for your body with regular exercise and a healthy diet, to caring for your mind with positivity exercises and adequate sleep, to simply surrounding yourself with supportive and kind people, no matter how small or inconsequential the action seems, know that it is benefitting you in the long run. And in the day to day of your habits you will surely notice a difference in how you think and feel when you take good care of yourself.