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Is Self Care Selfish? 5 Tips for Prioritizing "You"

Indulging yourself in life’s little luxuries may feel like a selfish way to spend time, especially if you have other responsibilities tugging at your time like family, home maintenance projects, household cleaning, and work. But the truth is, taking care of yourself and making your needs a priority is a health necessity that can actually improve time management and lower stress levels—allowing you to be more present with family and able to tackle other responsibilities with a clear mind. Beyond New Year’s resolutions,  be sure to continue to make active changes in your life all year–  focus on the importance of self-care and keep it top of mind with the following five tips:

1. Breathe it All In

When it comes to breathing, the scents that surround you might be just as important as the technique you use. Inhaling as you count off four seconds then exhaling for the same count can help reduce stress, calm nerves, and even boost your focus! Elevate this self-care tip by adding in some aromatherapy with your favorite scents—rosemary to improve your memory, orange essential oil to reduce anxiety and stress, and lavender for a calming effect at bedtime are just a few ideas that can help make relaxation something extra-special.

2. Get Active

All the talk you hear about benefits of exercising for the body — and mind — is absolutely true. Not only is exercising a healthy way to help maintain your weight and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, but it also releases endorphins that increase your feelings of happiness! The good news is you don’t have to head to the gym to get these benefits. Take your dog on a walk around the neighborhood, or put on some of your favorite tunes and dance around the house—whatever you enjoy doing that involves movement!

3. Pull the Plug

Technology can helpful when it comes to learning about the latest news, finding great deals on the things you need, keeping in touch with far-flung friends and family, and a myriad of other things. However, the flip side of all that convenience is a level of stress that can be brought about by the news or by keeping up with “everything” everyone is doing on social media. Take a break from technology and indulge in the opportunity to clear your mind or do something else you find rewarding. Make a rule to put away your electronic devices at a certain time each day, or try making one day a week technology-free.

4. Be Grateful

Acknowledging what you have, as well as what you’ve accomplished, can drive compassion and caring for yourself. Take a few minutes each day to reflect on and acknowledge the things you’re grateful for—the presence of a great friend, the completion of a major (or minor) accomplishment such as a difficult work assignment or fitting in that 30-minute walk or run!

5. Embrace Laughter

Maybe laughter truly is the best medicine… a good giggle has been shown to improve both your physical and mental health. In addition to relieving stress, laughter can also lower your blood pressure and—when shared—build connections with other people. Read a funny book, share a funny story with friends, or take an evening off and head to your nearest comedy club.

One of the best things about these self-care tips is that they can be quick and easy to implement! In most cases, it’s just a matter of committing the time to yourself. You can slip a few minutes of self-care in between your responsibilities throughout the day without having to make a big fuss about it… but don’t forget to set aside real quality time for yourself once in awhile. Use these tips to decide what works best for you and get started right away!