Studies say you aren’t getting enough downtime—here’s how to change that
Self-care > everything
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When I'm not working, I'm probably sleeping, cooking, cleaning, eating, teaching yoga, doing yoga, showering, happy hour-ing... To sum it up, life is busy. And while there are days when I could sneak in some Netflix-and-couch time, I always feel this niggling guilt that I should be doing something else—something more productive—instead.
Apparently, I'm not alone in those feelings. A recent study found that 1 in 3 Americans feels bad about taking time for themselves, even though 67 percent desperately want more of it. Below are some of the key findings of the survey plus how you can practice more self-care, according to one of our experts.
What the study revealed about our downtime (or lack thereof)
Based on the answers from 1,000 American adults, 2 in 5 people say they rarely make time for themselves each day. Another 51 percent admit to feeling burnt out while 3 in 5 people say they feel overwhelmed with everything going on in their lives. And according to the report, only 3 in 10 Americans purposefully block off time for themselves on their calendars.
Why is self-care so important?
With the World Health Organization recently declaring burnout an actual medical diagnosis, it's clear that taking time for ourselves is something that can improve both our physical and mental health. Research has shown that more you-time and a better work-life balance can help prevent mental illnesses like depression and make you a happier, healthier person (and even a more productive employee) overall.
What does self-care really mean?
It's different for everyone. For some people, yes, it may include the things you probably think of when you hear self-care, like bubble baths and candle-lit yoga practices. But for others, it can be something totally different—and sometimes it's not what you want to be doing but rather what you need to be doing, according to our lifestyle writer Jessica Kasparian.
"I believe self-care involves doing things you don't want to do, like making and attending your doctor appointments, setting aside time to create a budget for your money, cleaning your home, and other non-glamorous things," she explains. "We typically don't feel guilty about cleaning our houses. We instead think of it as a chore, but having a clean environment is taking care of yourself."
To sum it up, she says, "I interpret self-care to mean making choices for yourself that will ultimately lead to greater health and a life that is fulfilled mentally, physically, and spiritually."
Tips for practicing more self-care (that don't involve face masks or candles)
1. Get enough quality sleep.
Trying to function on little to no sleep is a very bad idea for your brain and your body. If you're skimping on shuteye because you're struggling to shut off your brain, consider a weighted blanket like the Gravity Blanket which is not only comfy but is also supposed to help relieve stress and anxiety.
2. Eat healthy homemade meals that nourish you and give you energy.
Sure, some days you have no choice but to grab takeout on the way home from work. And while occasionally that can be self-care in its own way, it's probably not going to make you feel great if you do that every single day. The Instant Pot Ultra will help you whip up homemade meals in less time (and with less effort) so you'll have better-for-you dinner options on busy weeknights.
3. Move your body every day.
Exercise in any form (whether its gentle yoga or a heart-pumping run) can both boost your mood and help you cope with your usual life stress. Make sure you're getting in some sort of activity every day with our top-rated fitness tracker, the Fitbit Charge 3, which will notify you when it's time to get up and move.
4. Stay organized to reduce stress levels.
As Kasparian says, even making doctor appointments or scheduling haircuts is a form of self-care. Keep track of everything you've got going on in a planner like the Passion Planner. It has individual time-slots, to-do lists, and plenty of blank space for jotting down what you need at the grocery store.
5. Keep your house clean to feel more peaceful and relaxed at home.
Less mess = less stress. After all, living in a cluttered, disorganized house is no one's idea of self-care. Treat yourself with our favorite affordable robot vacuum, which will clean up all those dust bunnies for you so that you can spend that precious time doing something else (we vote sleeping).
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