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As a society, we are starting to at least acknowledge and recognize the importance of self-care. Each of us needs to learn to take time out of our day to care for ourselves. Not only does self-care make us happier, but it also makes us better parents, better lovers, and better friends. Self-care, in that sense, isn’t just about the self. The more we care for our own mental health, the more we can give others our whole self.

Still, for better or worse, self-care is an industry. Many companies try to offer products and services with the claim that they’ll help you feel better about yourself. In a sense, they’re not wrong. Anything you do for yourself can help you regenerate your energy levels and protect yourself from being overwhelmed. But what does the science say about self-care?

Self-Care That is Supported by Science

Anything that refreshes you and gives you back a sense of health and wellness is worth considering. But there are absolutely some activities that are supported by science. These include:

  • Sleep – More than anything, if you can find time to sleep restfully, you are going to instantly feel more energized and emotionally/psychologically healthy. The chemicals in your brain that affect mood and wellbeing are all directly impacted by sleep. Sleep longer and better, and you’ll feel much more refreshed.
  • Exercise – Physical activity also can be directly linked to sleep. There are countless reasons for this. Exercise affects our production of “Good mood” hormones. It “burns off” extra energy to tired your body (which ultimately tires your mind) and improves cognitive functioning, among many other benefits.
  • Healthy Eating – You’ll notice that many of these are about having a healthier mind and body, and that’s because there is a direct link between how your body feels and how your mental health feels. Healthy eating is another example. Filling your body with vitamins and minerals while avoiding things that make your body feel worse (like fried foods) helps to nourish your brain in ways that improve psychological health and emotional wellness.
  • Moments of Silence – Life can often feel very overwhelming. One way to address this is to take a few moments of silence – with NO technology – to sit and allow your mind to tire out and refresh. Sometimes, all you need for self-care is to literally do nothing in silence so that you can process everything around you and let it melt away.
  • Journaling – The diaries that many of us kept when we were younger are actually backed by science. Journaling is very healthy form of self-expression that evidence shows reduces cognitive burden, enhances cognitive ability, and helps us process life’s events.

Other forms of self-care may not be backed by science, but are still beneficial. For example, doing your nails and hair, dressing nicely, and performing other activities that you enjoy can be amazing forms of self-care. They may not be highly researched, but self-care is a very individual experience. Just be sure to assess how you feel when it’s over to know if these are activities that work for you.

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