Say it with us: Self-care isn’t selfish. Just ask the state of New Jersey. The NJ Governor’s Council on Mental Health Stigma is working to help people recognize that it’s just as important to take care of yourself as it is to take care of the people around you. Think of it this way: If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of others. 

So in the spirit of caring for others by caring for ourselves, here are some self-care practices to try this winter. 

Take a hike

Not in the negative way. Literally, lace up those boots and hit the trails – it’s a great way to clear your mind, get some exercise and, according to the National Parks Service, it can even boost your mood. Luckily, there are plenty of trails all over South Jersey that will provide the exact experience you’re looking for. Check out some tips before you go. 

Find a new hobby

The hobbies out there are endless, and so are the benefits to having them. Whether you’re crocheting, learning a new language or metal detecting, your hobbies can provide a creative outlet, improve focus, reduce stress and enhance social connections, says Oaks Integrated Care. Even finding a new hobby can be a hobby. Try out activities that you enjoy – and some that you’ve never done, or even heard of, before! 

Get enough sleep

Part of self-care is giving your body what it needs to keep going each day, and that means getting enough sleep so that our bodies can recharge each night. The Center for Disease Control recommends adults get 7 hours of sleep each night, even more for teens and children. As part of your self-care practice, try building a bedtime routine to make sure you’re in bed early enough to get the recommended amount of hours.

Talk to a friend or family member

It’s science – missing out on social connection can actually affect your health. By taking the time to be with – or even just talk to – your family, your friends, your co-workers, you’re also working to live a healthier life. Make a day of it! Have a movie night, try a new restaurant, grab lunch with someone at the office, get together and make a mood board for the year. 

Eat a balanced diet

Giving your body everything it needs to stay energized through the day is totally self-care. Making sure you’re fueling it the best way is part of that. But that doesn’t mean you have to never eat dessert again. Instead, focus on building a balanced diet for yourself. You’ll be more likely to stick with it compared to trying out those fad diets – and your body will thank you. 

Treat yourself

Next time someone says you shouldn’t get that latte because you’re wasting money, just tell them New Jersey says it’s ok. The state lists “treating yourself” as one way to practice self-care, and we’ll be running with that all year long. Sure, going into debt to get a latte every day isn’t the move, but grabbing a little treat once a week, once every other week or once a month (whatever works best for you) can be a huge help to our mental health. 

January 2024
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