How you eat, sleep, think, move, and feel are all connected. Taking time to care for yourself can improve the symptoms you may be feeling and your outlook on life as a whole. If you’re ready to make yourself a priority, but aren't sure where to start, try this 7-day Self-Care challenge.
Seven days to a healthier you
If you’re ready to make yourself a priority, but aren't sure where to start, try this 7-day Self-Care challenge. Consider it a new daily medicine—don’t miss a dose! Side effects may include increased well-being, happiness, love, and gratitude. (Remember: Self-care looks different for everyone. Take it one day at a time, discover your style, and build on your skills as you go.)
Day 1: Manage your time
Do you want to find more time in your day? What if you could have hours back by doing one simple task? Take a close look at the amount of time you spend on your phone scrolling through social media. Apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger can steal an average of 2 hours and 25 minutes of your day!
Action: Go to settings in your phone and tap “Screen Time.” Become aware of how much time is spent on your phone, then set a limit each day for social media (30 minutes, perhaps) and unplug after that.
Day 2: Get moving
Regular exercise boasts numerous benefits—it can improve your mood, boost your energy, strengthen your body, promote better sleep, lower blood pressure, and aid in weight loss (CDC.gov) . Make moving your body a regular habit—schedule exercise just like you schedule meetings. No time? Get creative: Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park your car far away from your destination, take advantage of your onsite gym at work, sit on an exercise ball at your desk, take a walk on your break instead of aimlessly scrolling on your phone, rev up your housework or your intimate life.
Action: Move your body and get your heart rate up for at least 30 minutes per day for the next six days!
Day 3: Find gratitude
Whenever you stop to appreciate someone or something in your life, you experience the feel-good nature of gratitude. There’s science behind that high, with research linking the practice of gratitude to physical changes in your brain. Some studies show gratitude can help with depression and anxiety. With an attitude of gratitude, you can not only uplift your life but also positively impact the world around you: Make eye contact and smile first at a passerby, hold the door for someone, buy a stranger coffee, let another car in while driving. You never know how one small gesture can change someone’s day.
Action: For the next five days, write down three things each day for which you are grateful. Throughout your day, find at least one small way to pay it forward.
Day 4: Know your boundaries
Saying “no” can be hard, but empowering yourself to define your boundaries is freeing. When you learn to set limits, you begin to protect your energy and embrace the power of “no.” First, imagine how it would feel to start establishing boundaries. What if you had the authority to say, “No, that doesn’t work for me,” and move on without a second thought? Realize that your time and energy is valuable and limited and treat it accordingly. Just like gratitude, the practice of setting boundaries positively impacts others. When we empower ourselves to respect our time and energy, we inspire others to do the same.
Actions: If it’s not a “Heck, yes!” then it’s a "Heck, no!”. For the next four days, practice saying “no” to a request or obligation which does not work for you (use your judgement—chores and work responsibilities likely do not apply!).
Day 5: Be present
Meditation is a superpower. It increases self-awareness, energy, positivity, and mental focus, while decreasing stress, depression, and inflammation in the body. If you are new to meditation, download an app like Insight Timer, Calm, or Headspace to begin your practice. Start small with a one-minute guided meditation and work up from there. Consistency is key. Continue to strengthen your meditation muscle, even if it’s for five minutes while you’re hiding from your kids or coworkers in the bathroom. This is your time to cultivate a healthy mind.
Action: Download a meditation app of your choice. For the next three days, find 5 minutes to practice meditation once daily in the morning, afternoon, or at night.
Day 6: Get some rest
Sleep deprivation is a serious health problem. Our bodies need sleep—approximately six to eight hours of quality restoration. Research links lack of sleep to numerous problems including inflammation in the body,weight gain,poor cognitive function and decreased immunity (Medic, 2017). One way to cultivate better sleep health is to start a bedtime routine. Turn off your screens an hour before you plan to go to sleep, take a bath or hot shower, use aromatherapy like lavender, dive into a book, or practice your meditation.
Action: Make your own unique bedtime ritual and practice it for the next two nights. Get specific and write it down: What does it look like? What time will you go to sleep and wake up? What relaxing activities will help you sleep your best?
Day 7: Find your people and spend time with them
As human beings, we need time to nurture our social nature. We need community—friends, mentors, and teachers in our lives with whom we can share stories, support, and, most importantly, laughter. Find a 10-minute pocket of time somewhere in your day (while you’re on your way to work, or while you wait at the post office or doctor's office, for example) to reach out to a friend who has been on your mind. Make a phone call, write an old-fashioned letter, or a send a text. Chances are your friend has been thinking about you, too.
Action: Make a plan today for an upcoming date with your partner or group of uplifting friends.
How to make healthy habits stick
Lifestyle modifications like these can spark a health transformation. The key is to start small, be patient, and take it one day at a time. Once you complete the seven-day challenge, try to sustain your new skills for another two to three weeks. With consistent practice, these daily tasks will slowly become your new healthy habits of living.
To learn how to personalize your self-care to target your specific health goals, try working with a health coach. Partnering with a health coach, especially in tandem with an integrated care team like Vori Health, can help you target the most effective lifestyle modifications to make. Talk to a care team member to learn more about unlocking your potential.