youth

One of the most important things we can do for ourselves is ensure we are taking good care of our body, mind, and soul each and every day. Self-care is a habit we need to develop and use daily, not just when we are sick or feel it’s most convenient.

Learning how to eat right, reduce stress, exercise regularly, and take a time-out when you need it are big components of self-care. Making a point to incorporate these habits into your life can help you stay healthy, happy, and resilient.

Practicing self-care isn’t always easy. In fact, it’s an ongoing battle I fight with year in and year out. Most of us are crazy busy. There are extracurricular activities to juggle, sporting events to attend, and of course our jobs to work around. Having a full and fast-paced life can be rewarding, but can also become burdensome from time to time.

As the pandemic continues to impact our daily lives, now is a good time to reflect on the past year and remind ourselves about the importance of self-care. Below you’ll find several different tips, ideas, and reminders to help you manage your mental health through self-care.

1. Create a plan. Creating a self-care plan can make managing self-care easier. When life gets busy, it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself. Making a plan and sticking to it helps release the stress of managing another “task” on your to-do list.

2. Say “no” to others. Saying “no” is a hard thing to do for some people. However, saying “no” when you’re feeling overwhelmed or when you need a day to yourself can be a powerful way to care for yourself.

3. Do things that spark joy. Self-care is all about doing something specifically for YOU. Do one thing daily that sparks joy in your life. Examples of this could be a simple coffee run, getting up to go for a walk around the block, or even watching an episode of your “guilty pleasure” show.

4. Soak up the sun. As the days are beginning to lengthen as summer approaches, we have more time to enjoy the sunlight after school or work. Just getting 10 minutes of sunlight or having those blinds in your bedroom window open can spunk up your mood and provide you with much-needed Vitamin D. Be sure to wear sunscreen if you’ll be outside for extended periods of time!

5. Don’t skip out on the basics. Continue to eat healthy, exercise regularly, and get a healthy amount of sleep.

Some of these tips may sound silly or obvious, but it can often be hard to prioritize that extra time to ourselves. It’s important to create time in your day to be alone with yourself, no matter how busy you are. Time alone can help you ponder the best way to move forward in life and keep you grounded, healthy, and happy.

Keisha Jackson, MSW, is the PRN Youth First Social Worker at Annunciation and St. John the Baptist schools in Vanderburgh County. Youth First, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to strengthening youth and families, provides 64 Master’s level social workers to 92 schools in 11 Indiana counties. Over 60,000 youth and families per year are served by Youth First’s school social work and after school programs that prevent substance abuse, promote healthy behaviors and maximize student success. To learn more about Youth First, visit youthfirstinc.org or call 812-421-8336.

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