By Carla Davis-Castro, Research Librarian, Library of Congress
When it comes to self-care, I have learned a lot from my dogs, Salsa and Tango. Our busy lives may leave us last on our priority list, but here are some things you can do for yourself in order to find renewed focus and energy.
1. Take a break from the screens
We use screens for work, socializing, and entertainment. Screens take a toll on our eyes, experts tell us, so give them a break every once in a while. Books don’t produce glare, so I try to read during my work commute instead of checking my phone.
When is the last time you wrote in your journal or pieced together a puzzle, instead of watching television after work?
Could you sign up for a painting class, your church choir, or Habitat for Humanity instead of going to the movies during the weekend?
2. Get up and move
The Mayo Clinic reports that physical activity can help maintain your health, improve your mood, and promote better sleep. Exercise may even help you live longer according to the Harvard Health Blog. Salsa likes to accompany me during yoga at home. In my large office building, colleagues even walk the hallway loop when it is cold or raining.
Sports can be great for competitive personalities but there are other good reasons to get up move. Dancing can help you get to know a new culture or make new friends. Gardening can reconnect you with the living world around us. I do yoga because it helps me center myself as I spend the rest of the week working collaboratively with my colleagues, friends, and husband.
3. Go outside
The Business Insider reports that being outside can improve memory, fight depression, and lower blood pressure. Tango enjoys being in the backyard and reminds me how much better I feel after getting some sunshine. I go outside to remember that the cycle of the seasons is eternal no matter what challenges I may be facing. Walking through a forest makes me feel small but I am also relieved to find that my problems also look smaller.
Good weather is for parades, porch gatherings, and patio dining. When you have good weather, remember to take advantage of it!
4. Find your community
Close relationships help us live longer lives according to Medical News Today. Relationships improve the quality of our lives so don’t let your friendships slip away. Salsa and Tango have their disputes over dog toys, but they find a way to live in peace year after year.
Also, don’t forget that your community is every single person around you. Be kind to the person cleaning your workspace and say ‘thank you’ to the people who hold the elevator for you. We are all in this together.
Self-care is important because only you can do it for yourself. However, self-care is not less important than taking care of others. If we took better care of everyone we met, would we need to devote so many blogs to self-care?