Self-care isn’t about staying at a fancy hotel, splurging on a spa vacation or buying some outrageously expensive bag. Instead it is far more internally nourishing, and something that takes some time to get the hang of without becoming too self-centred.

A sustainable self-care practice is about creating small, manageable moments within each day or week, to practice the kind of meaningful actions that makes you feel healthy and joyful in mind, body, and soul. These small rituals slowly add up to a healthier and more joyful life.

Here are some ways to kick start your self-care journey this new year.

The Need To Be Self-Compassionate

The first step in practicing self-care is learning how to be self-compassionate. We are often our harshest critics and have unrealistic expectations for ourselves. While this can be difficult, try to identify triggers and to reframe your approach when necessary. If you are unable to stop the self-hatred, you might need to speak to a therapist who will be better equipped to help you learn to be kind to yourself.

Treat Your Body With Respect

Breaking the negative pattern of perceiving certain foods as a reward, and reframing the way you view food is an excellent way to practice self-care. While it’s perfectly OK to indulge in treats, viewing food as fuel that nourishes your body and then consuming things that make you feel good is important. Instead of rewarding yourself with candy or cake, replace these empty-calorie ridden sweets with a deliciously balanced meal instead.

Sleep

While we require a full eight hours of sleep each night for both short-term and long-term good health, very few people actually get it. Many of us adapt to managing with six to seven hours of sleep, but studies show the risk of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and heart attacks rises sharply even with 30 to 60 minutes less sleep than our bodies need. To figure out a good bedtime for yourself, start with when you need to wake up and count back eight hours.

Meditate

Meditation has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, increase feelings of empathy, improve focus, boost the immune system, and slow the signs of ageing. Using a meditation app is a great way to access a variety of different styles of meditation to see what works for you.

Learn How To Give Yourself A Self-Massage

Giving yourself a daily massage for five to ten minutes can help you appreciate your body, how it feels and what it needs. A simple and relaxing hand massage when you apply your hand cream or a relaxing foot massage at night before bed can be a relaxing and soothing activity.

Just Say “No”

We all struggle with setting appropriate boundaries with others, which leads us to commit to things we don’t have the time for, or interest in. While this may not seem like a big deal, an inability to say no often leads to a slow building of resentment and even anger. It can also make you feel like you’re not living your own life, or that you’re living your life according to others’ whims. If you can’t handle or simply don’t want to do something, then stop, take a deep breath and say ‘no’.

Embrace Nature

Immersing yourself in nature calms the central nervous system, elevates your mood, and increases energy levels. Take a walk in the park or woods. Do some gardening. Visit your nearest garden centre. Feel the soil between your fingers and enjoy the smell of the leaves and earth. Plant a tree and watch it grow over the years. By taking ownership of the natural work and your place in it and you will be rewarded in so many ways.