Self-Care is a new 21st century phenomenon. Like mindfulness and 24/7 lifestyles, it is a modern phrase used to adorn headlines in magazines, and to grab attention on social media posts. But is it really a new idea, or an old concept dressed up in fancy clothes?
My granny had never heard or used the term self-care, yet she knew how to look after herself intrinsically. She would regularly indulge in her hobbies of reading, watching police procedurals and shopping. Some of these hobbies she has passed onto me, but she never used them as a prescription to combat the stress and strains of modern life.
It seems that every magazine headline is encouraging us to look after ourselves better or even more. They are giving us permission to slow down, recharge and relax. But why do we need approval to do any of this?
The 21st century has brought with it iPhones and Alexa, we can literally speak to a box in our rooms to play music, order food or find information. We are inundated with news and iconography which encourages us to ‘lead our best life.’ Our working hours have gotten longer with almost 25% of us eating lunch at our desks, and our evenings are spent binge watching the latest offering from Netflix. The downside of all our advances is that we now need to be told to log off and relax.
Not having enough downtime can have a massive impact on our health. Watching tv or scrolling through our social media feed late at night can increase the production of melatonin in the brain, making it challenging to fall asleep. The WHO recommends a minimum of 7 hours sleep per evening to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and sadly, many of us are lacking in this area.
So, let us tackle the elephant in the room – how’s your sleep?
Do you have trouble nodding off? Do you wake up several times throughout the night? Are you waking early in the morning feeling more exhausted than when you went to bed?
These are all common sleep complaints and with 67% of the UK population reporting sleep disturbances on a regular basis – sleep deprivation is becoming an epidemic.
According to Medical News Today the symptoms of sleep deprivation go far beyond yawning and daytime tiredness – moodiness, irritability, depressed mood, difficulty learning new concepts, forgetfulness, ‘fuzzy’ head, lack of motivation, craving carbs and even clumsiness.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, sleep deprivation can be successfully treated, and you can begin to feel the benefits quite quickly. But it is a lifestyle change which will have the biggest impact and longest-term benefits. Where do you begin?
Self-care isn’t selfish
The brain and the body love routine, and it is very important to establish and maintain one. We all know that heading to bed and getting up at the same time each day of the week is recommended, but who doesn’t love a lie in at the weekend? Sadly, your Saturday morning in sleeping-in could be causing your Sunday night insomnia and lead to that Monday-blues feeling.
Tips for establishing an evening routine:
Eat your evening meal around 6pm, allowing plenty of time for food to be digested before we head to bed.
Limiting caffeine after lunch has also been shown to help with nodding off at night. Swap your afternoon coffee for some hot water with lemon and ginger.
Switch off – choose a time when you will not answer calls or texts. Put your phone off and turn the tv off. This will eliminate the blue light which may help your body enter sleep mode.
Have a warm bath – up the ante with some Epsom salts, which contain magnesium. Magnesium has been shown to aid relaxation and encourage the body to sleep better and for longer.
Relax – listen to a relaxation track such as Progressive Muscle Relaxation. PMR is a guided relaxation technique which supports the body in preparing for sleep.
Getting off to a good start in the evening can set you up for success. It is not going to be an overnight cure but setting up your routine and sticking to it will work, you just need to make it a priority.
Looking for a short yoga practice to help you wind down? Then try my Wall Yin Yoga for Bedtime video.