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These days, it’s as if we never stop moving. It is easy to get wrapped up in the stresses of everyday life and be left with little time to ourselves. We’re meeting requirements for our jobs, working towards personal goals, studying for exams, running errands, and caring for our families. Though all of these things are incredibly important and need to be done, our mental health often ends up taking a back seat. Self-care is so important. It allows you to not only take care of your most basic physical needs (eating, exercise, hygiene, sleeping, etc.), but is also vital to your mental wellness. With such a large push for self-care in recent years, many of us are more knowledgeable to the benefits. But let’s be real. Life can be tough. Life gets busy. Life gets in the way of plans. It can be hard to slow down and take some well-deserved ‘me’ time. This is true for myself and it’s something I continue to work on. One of my favorite self-care quotes is “You can't pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first”. I really believe this. I’ve learned that I am my best self when I take the time to make sure I have filled my own cup; physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Self-care is something that refuels us rather than takes from us. It can help improve your overall well being, assist with stress management, and help keep you healthy in the long term. Here are some practical ways that you can incorporate self-care into your daily/weekly schedule and improve overall mental health. Take a nap Sleep has one of the biggest impacts on how we feel physically and mentally, but it is also one of the biggest things that people neglect today. It is important to notice when you’re feeling tired and run-down. Listen to your body and get some zzz’s. Breathe We spend so much of our day in hustle mode, that we often don’t stop even for 30 seconds of our day to do nothing. Taking a few seconds to stop...breathe...focus...and let go of your thoughts, gives you more time in the day to be productive, thoughtful, and energetic. Pamper Yourself I absolutely love treating myself to a pamper session at home and at the salon. If you’re staying indoors, treat yourself to your own at-home spa day. Bring out the nail polish, the face masks, hair treatments and the essential oils. It’s a quick way to destress and your skin will thank you for it. Learn To Say No Saying no to others is such a simple concept but it can be extremely difficult. Don’t feel you have to be everyone’s Wonder Woman (or Superman). You can’t pour from an empty cup remember? Once you learn how to politely say no to others and yes to yourself, you will feel more empowered and have more time to practice self-care. Unplug Most of us are guilty of being addicted to our phones. With the constant bombardment of notifications and emails coming through, it’s no wonder why our minds can’t function. Giving yourself time to unplug is crucial in getting a fresh sense of perspective. Pick a time of day, whether it is during breakfast, your lunch hour or your last hour before bedtime. Lately, I have been working towards leaving my phone away from my bed at night. It has really improved my sleep, the time I am able to spend with my husband, and has allowed me to switch off from the outside world when I am winding down. I tend to fall asleep easier, and have a more peaceful rest. Give it a try. Talk It Out My final tip on this list is to not be afraid to talk it out. We have a tendency to pretend that we’re okay and we don’t tell others when we feel like crap. It’s okay to not be okay, and don’t be afraid to say so. Communicate how you feel and reach out to those in your support system. For times that you may need more professional help or if you’d like to talk to someone who isn’t as close to you, therapy is a wonderful option! It truly is liberating to be open and honest about how you feel. If none of these sit with you, maybe light a candle, turn on some music, and bake some cookies. Self-care shouldn’t be something that you do on special occasions or only when you are feeling down. Push yourself to practice it everyday to maintain good mental health. Stay healthy and be well. Xo Jessica

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