The more we sit at desks, compulsively scroll social media, and (perhaps) obsessively check the news, the farther away we get from our own needs as human beings — physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally.
But since we all can’t just move to a tropical island and scoop ice cream all day for a living, we should at least try to make time and space for small tactics that will help keep us balanced and happy, even when things in our lives and in the world around us can seem hectic.
Why self-care is crucial
Before we dispense some strategies, let’s just briefly take stock of how modern life, whether it’s in the office, at home, or on-the-go, has become a minefield for our mental and physical well-being.
The Mayo Clinic and many, many others have declared sitting to be “the new smoking.” And while that might sound a little dramatic, the drawbacks of a sedentary life are very real. Meanwhile, fixating on screens causes us to stare more and blink less, which is bad for our eyes. Making matters worse, too much time spent on the internet and social media are linked to lower levels of happiness, fulfillment, and productivity.
The power of timers and schedules
Since it’s difficult (if not impossible) to live an unconnected or disconnected life, our best bet is to break up the amount we work or read the news or engage with technology into digestible bites. Of course, this is easier said than done, especially when you are 37 minutes into a Facebook scrolling binge.
One popular time-management method is the Pomodoro Method, which breaks up work or tasks into 25-minute increments. You commitment yourself to a short period of productivity and then you follow it up with a five-minute break where you stretch, take a short walk, stay hydrated, or watch the clouds roll by. Repeat as necessary. (And be sure to take a longer break after a few rounds.)
When it comes to bigger self-care efforts, whether it’s a favorite yoga class, some well-earned reading time, a friend date, or a good line-dancing session, we endorse making a schedule. Even a vague daily timeline will help you create important space between your work and personal life.
Technology can be the answer too
Once upon a time, we might have rolled our eyes at a parent or teacher if they told us to stop slouching. Now all of us would benefit greatly from being reminded to do the little things to keep us healthy. Fortunately, technology can help with this dynamic.
If you let them, fitness watch devotees will grab you by the wrist and make sure you hear about how their wearables track their sleep or let them set alerts to buzz when they’ve been inactive for too long. But let’s say you aren’t into smart watches (fair enough!). In that case, give an app like Get Moving a try. It will monitor your steps and also let you know when you’re due to move around.
For social media junkies, another popular way to induce a little self-care regimen is @tinycarebot, a Twitter account that politely sends out little reminders throughout the day to stretch your legs, rest your eyes, and say hello to a loved one.
💧: please take some time to take a sip of water
— here's your reminder (@tinycarebot) August 16, 2017
It sounds pretty basic, but this tiny interruptor has nearly 100,000 followers.
Do more in person
This might seem obvious, but just because we are tethered to email, text, social media, or workplace messaging systems doesn’t mean that we can’t or shouldn’t prioritize in-person gatherings. Try to set up face-to-face meetings or appointments that will allow you to be active. You’ll communicate more effectively and strengthen your bonds with the people around you.
Also, while you’re at it, don’t be afraid to talk to a stranger; according to researchers, it’ll make you a happier person.
Tips to help you keep it real
Bust through obstacles on your way to greatness with Unstuck Tip Cards — four reusable decks that help you fight procrastination, stop negative thinking, boost productivity, and get more creative.