Learn 22 self care tips from the experts at WUKA, about women's self care and how taking time for yourself, especially during your period, is so important.
What is Self Care?
The term ‘self care’ can mean different things to us all. For some, practising self care can be a weekend away at a yoga retreat, unplugging from it all and focusing only on relaxation and mindfulness. For others, self care is taking five minutes each day to read a chapter from their favourite book. And that’s ok.
Self care is all about doing something for you. Caring for yourself. Making yourself a priority, even if only for a few moments. Practising self care means that you’re able to recognise when you’re pouring from an empty cup and when you need to do something for yourself too.
22 Self Care Tips
We get it. It’s not always easy to make the shift and prioritise yourself in place of others. But it really is important to show yourself the same love and compassion as you show others, so here are 22 tips to get you started.
Read a Book
When was the last time you lost yourself in a really good book? Without the distractions of the TV in the background or your phone pinging every two minutes! Reading can be such a valuable tool for mindfulness, allowing you to truly escape from the trials of every day life, in fact, this 2010 study by Liverpool Health Inequalities Research Institute found that reading has the power to help patients suffering with depression, “by increasing personal confidence, reducing social isolation, fostering a sense of community and encouraging communication skills”.
Not to mention the fact that even just five minutes spent reading is five minutes you’re spending doing something for yourself.
2. Sleep Schedule
Sleep is one of those things we don’t tend to think too much about, but actually having a good sleep schedule can be one of the best ways you can practise self care. It’s when we sleep that we’re able to rejuvenate, restore and recover, and this is even more important for our mind and body during our period too.
Start by establishing a bedtime and wake up time (re-set your natural circadian rhythm) and try to stick to that at weekends too. Eliminate blue light for at least the last hour before you go to bed, so no scrolling your phone in bed! and perhaps take a warm bath to help relax your mind and body ready for sleep.
3. Fresh Air
It’s not always easy to get outside during the winter here in the UK, but you’d be surprised just how effective it can be when you do make the effort. For many of us, fresh air and natural daylight isn’t something we’re exposed to much during the working day, so this is something you need to build into your daily routine.
Try to set aside at least five minutes every day, that’s literally all it can take to lift your mood and calm your nerves. Even better if you can pull on a wooly hat and gloves and brave it for a little longer!
4. Start Your Day Right
If you’ve got your sleep schedule sorted there’s a really good chance you’re already starting your day off well. But do you have a morning routine? This is such a simple act of self care that can really make a difference, and it doesn’t need to be complicated.
Your morning routine might be spending an extra five minutes enjoying a hot cup of coffee. It might be sitting down with your loved ones, chatting about your plans for the day. It might be a run, a yoga session or hitting the gym. Whatever works for you to set you up for the day, make time for it.
5. 30 Minutes of Exercise
If the thought of running 5 miles before work makes you want to curl up under your duvet even more, then this tip might not seem much like self care at first… but stick with us.
Exercise (when you enjoy it) has the power to improve your mental health, by reducing anxiety and symptoms of depression, by elevating low mood and by boosting self esteem and even improving cognitive capabilities.
This study carried out in 2010 found that regular exercise could even be considered as medicine for some patients suffering with depression and anxiety. Proof that moving your body really does serve your mind, too.
So if running isn’t your thing and the gym gives you nightmares, find an exercise that you will enjoy, and try to fit it into your daily routine. Moving your body every day, for at least 30 minutes is a fantastic act of self care. And if you’re on your period, make sure you’ve got some WUKA period leggings to keep you supported and leak-free while you work up a sweat.
Stress is one of the biggest reasons why we should all be practising self care more (it can have an affect on your period too), but it’s also one of the biggest reasons why we don’t. When we’re stressed, it’s hard to see the bigger picture, and many of us fall victim to a vicious circle of feeling like we’re not doing enough, and therefore need to be doing even more. Learning how to relax is probably going to be one of the best skills you can have.
Yoga, meditation, a moment to breathe-whatever it takes for you to relax your body and mind, try to work it into your daily routine.
7. Keep a Journal
A problem shared is a problem halved but if you don’t want to talk it out, writing it down can be just as beneficial. We can often write more in a journal than we can ever say out loud, and sometimes our inner thoughts might even surprise us. Let it all out.
Meditation has been proven to be one of the most effective ways at reducing stress and helping us to be present in our lives. This study looked at the effectiveness of meditation in reducing stress and inflammation in the body, while this study looked at how meditation can be used to treat anxiety too. Both concluded that meditation can- and should- be part of your regular self care routine.
Meditation takes practise, but if you can set aside just five minutes each day you’ll benefit from the effects. There are some great apps to get you started, Youtube videos that can guide you, or you can try Yoga Nidra, a deeply calming yoga practise that uses meditation to soothe and relax.
9. Spend Time With Friends and Family
There’s nothing like being with friends and family to bring a smile to your face, so make the most of spending time with your loved ones when you need to. These are the people who know you best, who you can really be yourself around. Spending time with friends and family is a wonderful act of self care that we too often tend to push aside in favour of ‘being busy’.
10. Make Time For Yourself
We can’t emphasise this enough. You need to focus on YOU every now and then. You cannot be there for everyone else all the time. You need to be there for you, too. Set a reminder on your phone now, and book a date night with yourself.
11. Have a Sofa Night
We’re all for waking up and kicking ass, but we also know the power in a good old duvet day too. And if it’s a sofa night you’re craving, well same thing! Don’t feel guilty if all you feel like doing today is chilling out with a movie and some popcorn. If that’s what you need to get the energy for tomorrow, then go for it.
12. Healthy Cooking Habits
What we eat has a huge impact on our physical and emotional health, and too many mealtimes that rely on processed foods or takeaways will catch up with you eventually. Self care is about nourishing your body and your mind, and eating a healthy, balanced diet, especially when you’ve got your period, is vital for good all round health. And who knows, you might discover a new passion for cooking too- plus when period cravings strike, you can reach for the healthy home baked cookies instead of the mass-produced offerings!
13. Have Time Away From Technology
When was the last time you had a screen-free afternoon? When did you last truly unplug from it all and leave the stresses and strains of social media in the bottom of your bag? We’re a nation of phone lovers, and while technology certainly has it’s place, we need to find time to step away from it all now and then.
There are numerous studies linking social media to anxiety, depression and low mood (like this one, which found a link between screen time and ‘lower psychological well-being’), and researchers have known for a long about the links between blue light and sleep disturbances too. You can read more about that at The Sleep Charity website.
So do yourself a favour now and then- switch off the phone and do something else for an hour. Read a book, go for a walk, play a board game. Re-connect with those around you, and re-discover how lovely it is to speak to people face to face instead of via a screen!
14. Get a Pet
Did you know that stroking a cat can seriously lower your stress levels and help you to feel more calm and relaxed? Ask any dog owner and they’ll also tell you just how integral their daily dog walks are to their mental wellbeing and happiness.
Having a pet gives you another being to focus on. A reason to get out for a walk. A reason to smile. A comfort at the end of a busy day. They don’t judge, and they might just be the best act of self care you can do this year.
Sometimes we just need to get away from it all. So do it. Book that holiday. Leave it all behind for a week or two.
16. Embrace Creativity
The problem with growing up into an adult is that all the things you used to do for pleasure seem to get pushed aside in favour of ‘adulting’. Those Saturday mornings you used to spend painting. The short stories and poems you used to write. The cute little outfits you’d whip up on the sewing machine… all the creative endeavours you used to enjoy can get lost in the hum-drum of life. If you let them.
Self care means snatching a little of that time back for yourself, so why not take up those creative hobbies again? Embrace the pottery wheel or sign up to that amateur theatre production. Do it for you, and unleash your creative side again.
17. Have a Bath
Soaking in the bath is a whole body sensory experience, and there’s really nothing quite like locking the bathroom door, pouring a glass of something nice and settling down. Even if it’s just a quick dip, taking a bath means dedicate alone time for you, and it’s showing your body you care about it too. And when you’re on your period, taking a bath can do wonders for tummy cramps too.
18. Invest in Plants
Plant power is not to be sniffed at. Did you know that plants can detoxify the air around us, reduce stress and even increase creativity? And studies like this one have proven that tending to them can drastically improve our own mental wellbeing too.
A tidy room is a tidy mind, and sitting amongst piles of clutter is never going to be good for your mental health. Besides, having a good clear out is a really good way to not only unwind but to move on from the past and start afresh. It doesn’t need to be a daunting task either. Starting small, one room at a time, spending just five minutes each day is enough.
Cleaning the house top to bottom might not seem like an act of self care, but the end results are more than satisfying! And if you think about it, the act of taking care if your home is probably one of the best things you can do for yourself. Show yourself you care about your environment, your own small space in the world.
If you know your way around a kitchen and you love creating cakes and bakes for friends (or for yourself, that’s ok too!) then why not set aside some time each week to do just that? It’s all part of indulging your creative side, remember- and home baked cake are aways going to be a lot better for you when PMS sends your cravings haywire!
22. Celebrate Accomplishments
Made it this far? Well done. You deserve a treat. In fact, we’d love it if you celebrated every achievement in life, even the really small ones. Nobody else is going to blow your trumpet for you once you reach adulthood, but the are times in life where there really should be a fanfare. So make it.
Not every day is good, but there is good in every day, so celebrate life’s wins- a special act of self care.
Self Care Tips To Ease Period Cramps
We know that some days are harder than others, and especially when PMS strikes. You’re feeling bloated, tired, crampy and irritable- it can be really hard to see the good in those days, that’s for sure. But there are self care tips to ease period cramps that can make you feel a whole lot better.
- Hot water bottle. Heat to the tummy can really ease period cramps and help to make you feel more relaxed in general too. Take an hour or so to curl up, or keep going with the WUKA wearable hot water bottle. It even has a hand pocket to keep you phone in.
- Take a warm bath. Again, the heat from the water will soothe and relax the muscles and help to ease period cramps in no time.
- Yoga. As we mentioned, exercise is a great act of self care that you can do each and every day, but if you feel like taking it a little easier then yoga is just perfect. Some positions, such as Child’s Pose, Cat-Cow, Pigeon Pose and Reclining Twist are particularly good for easing cramps as you relax into the stretch.
- Stay hydrated. Water is essential to life, and when we’re dehydrated, our muscles tense up and can cause painful cramping. Keep your water bottle close by.
- Wear loose clothing and underwear. There really is nothing worse than your clothes being too tight when you’re feeling bloated and suffering with period cramps. Now is not the time to be squeezing into clothes that you know will make you feel rubbish. Grab those comfy joggers and a pair of super soft Stretch Seamless period pants (designed to gently support all body shapes and sizes, fitting to you like a buttery-soft second skin) and just relax.
What is self-care for a woman?
Women’s self care is all about re-connecting with your body and your mind, and discovering the importance of nourishing and protecting your own wants, needs and passions. It’s about making yourself a priority and allowing your own happiness to factor in your day-to-day considerations- particularly during your period.
Women’s self care should be practised daily, taking into account for the menstrual cycle, where our bodies are undergoing constant physical and emotional changes. It’s practising daily activities that sustain our healthy bodies and healthy minds and it’s essential for emotional wellbeing. Its not indulgent or selfish- it’s non-negotiable, especially if we also intend to take care of others.
What are the 7 Pillars of self-care?
The seven pillars of self care are:
- Health: keeping that doctor’s appointment, booking that smear test, making your own health a priority.
- Mental well-being: taking steps to recognise low mood and anxiety, accepting it without blame and carrying out acts of self care to relax and soothe the mind.
- Physical: caring for your body so that you can maintain good physical health- going for a walk, taking part in yoga.
- Diet: knowing how to fuel your body, but also knowing it’s ok to eat comfort food now and then.
- Understanding risks: making sensible and informed decisions for yourself.
- Hygiene: knowing how to properly clean your body and why it’s important, caring enough to do this daily.
- Social responsibility: having an awareness of the wider community around you and how you can benefit others, plus how they can also benefit you.
What are the 8 areas of self-care?
The eight areas of self care are:
- Physical: a critical part of women’s self care. Drinking enough water, eating a balanced diet, keeping your health in check with regular exercise and good sleep.
- Emotional: acknowledging and accepting your emotions and feelings, talking or journalling them and taking steps to soothe your mind.
- Mental: protecting your mind and nourishing your cognitive capabilities- practising social media detoxes, reading, journalling.
- Financial: taking care of your personal finances, being in control of your money, using apps to help you.
- Environmental: recognising which environments serve you well, and taking care of those places. Keeping a safe space in your home to relax and unwind, decluttering and taking time to visit places that bring you joy.
- Social: building and nurturing relationships with others, knowing when you need help and being able to ask for it.
- Recreational: taking time out to have some fun, without feeling guilty for doing it. Seeing friends, being social.
- Spiritual: nourishing the soul. Meditation, yoga, prayer- however you do it, taking time for self-reflection and setting intentions.
What are the 4 pillars of self-care?
The four main pillars of self care are sleep, nutrition, social and physical. Try to incorporate each of these into your daily self care practises.