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15 Self-Care Ideas for When You’re Feeling Down

15 Self-Care Ideas for When You’re Feeling Down

I suck at self-care. I don’t get it. Am I supposed to take care of my physical biological needs? I already do that. Am I supposed to go buy myself a coffee, sit down and journal for an hour each day? Who’s supposed to watch my kid during this? Get a pedicure? As if I can afford that. Rub my own feet? Unsatisfying. I’ve had many counselors and friends explain and re-explain the importance of self-care to me, and I’m finally begin to understand how significant it really is for my emotional well-being.

Here are my favorite 15 self-care ideas for when I’m feeling down.

1. Write

Get a journal that you keep handy to write whatever you need to. Sometimes it’s helpful to slow down and write about a problem, fear, struggle, or memory. Writing by hand will help you to slow down and process your situation more fully. But sometimes you might not want to write about the struggle or pain. It’s too difficult. So if you’re feeling like it’s too raw to process, just write about your day or make a list of your favorite candies or movies. Just write.

2. Talk to a friend, family member or even pet!

Verbalize your pain. Making yourself speak out loud about your emotions will help you to not isolate yourself or allow yourself to spiral into an emotional tsunami that is hard to escape from. If the situation feels too personal, just share it will your dog! I’m certain Spot will keep your secret, and in my experience, my dog is sometimes the very best comforter. (And she’s certainly the least judgmental listener I know!)

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3. Cry

Let the tears flow. The best way to take care of yourself is to let yourself feel the emotions you need to feel. Bottling up your sadness or anger is not going to help you move past it. If you plant pain, you grow bitterness.

4. Move your body

You’ve heard it before: exercise releases endorphins and “endorphins make you happy, and happy people just don’t shoot their husbands!” (Elle Woods, Legally Blonde) If you can get yourself to do some yoga or go for a run, then you will seriously be doing yourself a service. But sometimes, just a walk around the block is enough to care for yourself when you’re feeling emotionally raw.

5. Shower

The shower is a place to be alone and focus on yourself without forcing yourself to engage the deep stuff if you don’t want to. You can mull over your parents’ divorce in the hot water, or you could focus or lathering up your shampoo. You need both and both are good you.

6. Make food

Don’t just eat, but make food. Cooking is a tactile and productive activity that will nourish your body and mind. The physical act of caring enough to make yourself a meal is a practical way to show yourself some love.

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7. Blow bubbles or color

As juvenile as it sounds, blowing bubbles or coloring in a coloring book are simple, easy ways to ground yourself in the reality of your situation and relieve some stress. Allow yourself to return to childhood activities and feel a lightness return to your spirit. These are also great activities to engage in if you experience panic attacks or PTSD related flash backs.

8. Deep breathing

Practice breathing in for 8 seconds through your nose and exhaling for 8 seconds through your mouth. This conscious effort to slow down is a great start to gaining perspective. Plus, the added oxygen to your brain will help you calm down, lower your heart rate and quell rising stress levels.

9. Interact with an animal

Scientific studies have shown that interacting with an animal will lower your heart rate, drop your blood pressure and reduce stress. Care for yourself by caring for your pet! Your pet will thank you for it, and you will benefit greatly as well!

10. Sleep

It is not uncommon for people to slog through life on five hours of sleep or less. Our bodies are not created to thrive on so little sleep. We need a chance to turn off and recharge and if we aren’t given that opportunity in sleep, our physical and emotional health will struggle. I am extremely guilty of not giving my body the rest it needs. If I’m having a bad day or my emotions are getting the best of me, I can almost always point to the poor sleep I got the night before as the culprit. Make rest a priority and give yourself the gift of sleep.

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11. Have boundaries

Boundaries are not popular in today’s culture. We often over schedule ourselves and over commit out of a sense of obligation to others. But if you aren’t able to bring your best self to the table then you aren’t doing anyone a service by overexerting yourself. Establish healthy boundaries with your calendar, your work and your relationships. Give yourself the time you need to take care of yourself so you can better take care of others.

12. Cultivate a hobby

Teach yourself to knit. Buy a scrapbook. Start a blog. Attend a class where you drink wine and paint. Create a hobby that is just for you and brings you joy. Having an intentional activity in your life that serves no end other than to bring you happiness will go a long way to foster healthy self-care.

13. Try something new

You can care for your mental health by challenging your mind to learn and expand. You will give yourself a boost by pushing your boundaries and stepping outside your comfort zone. Take a new route home from work. Go to an ethnic restaurant you’ve never tried. Learn a language with Rosetta Stone. Challenge your mind and it will be grateful for it.

14. Meditate or pray

Accessing your spirit/soul through meditation and pray is essential to holistic human health. Allowing yourself to really think about your values and beliefs will help you to feel more solid in your identity. Even if you don’t unlock the Truth of the Universe, or completely understand God or Divinity, giving yourself to space to engage with those big questions will go a long way in your emotional and spiritual life. It’s okay to not have all the answers, but you have to start letting yourself ask the questions.

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15. Hug someone

Hug someone, or hold hands with a loved one. We need physical touch. We are hardwired to physically encounter other people, and our culture is becoming more and more digitized which is eliminating opportunities for essential non-sexual human contact. Let yourself linger in a hug from a friend or ask your partner to give you a non-sexual back rub. We need more of this kind of contact in order to be healthier and happier people.

This list is just a start! Begin the practice of consciously taking care of yourself and you will never regret it.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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