December’s relentless focus on giving is now but a blot in the rearview mirror. And it feels great to say this out loud; now is the time to be selfish. Nope, we’re not encouraging inconsiderate, ignorant behaviour, but rather, a redefinition of what it means to put the ‘self’ first. Looking after number one shouldn’t be a dirty term. Instead, it’s something we all need to do from time to time, to bring clarity, positivity and a fresh outlook on life. With that in mind, here are 5 IDEAL self-care tips for 2020.

MEDITATION & YOGA

Taking a moment. Having a stretch. Counting your breaths mindfully up to ten. All seemingly innocuous little tasks which can have a huge impact on your sense of worth and well being. The science agrees; Harvard researchers recently reported meditation’s potential for changing the brain in depressed patients. Studies last year also suggested that yoga improves brain health in regular practicers. So, if you’re intent on entering the new decade with a focus on self care, putting a simple ten minutes aside each day for meditation, yoga, or ideally both, is perhaps the best thing you can do for your mind.

PRIORITISE BEING OVER DOING

A simple philosophy which can be interpreted in many ways, but prioritising ‘being’ instead of ‘doing’ can work wonders for well being, as it emphasises that necessary shift from always being on, available and in motion, to something all the more inward looking. In the best possible way of course. 

Allocate yourself an hour a day (or more, if you’re feeling generous!) just to sit quietly and focus on your hobbies or your relaxation. This could take the form of taking yourself outside for a stroll, reading a book, catching up on a series you particularly enjoy, or simply taking a long, languid soak in the tub, perhaps complete with bath salts and an invigorating face mask, such as these great ones from Que Bella, which cleanse, hydrate and detoxify. A little pampering here goes a long way, we think.

KEEP A GRATITUDE DIARY

Though it sounds a little woolly around the edges, time and time again it’s been shown that practicing gratitude is a key contributor to happiness. Indeed, by keeping a daily log of appreciation, the brain becomes rewired to look for reasons to be grateful. In the process, you may well find yourself more grounded, humble, thankful and kind towards the world around you. 

It’s wise to approach this act with empathy, rather than simply going through the motions; if you’ve had a non eventful day, don’t feel compelled to complete your journal. Instead, focus on depth, not breadth, and on people you appreciate, rather than things. In doing so, you’ll notice a gradual, growing warmth towards the world and its often lovely inhabitants.

SLEEP RIGHT

We all do it, right? But how many of us actually do it right? With each year, discussions of sleep hygiene and the damage which bad sleep practices can cause get more voluminous, as scientific research sheds increasing light on its impact. 

Firstly, it’s time you got your bedroom properly primed for a good night’s zzzeds; remove distractions, particularly those which emit that pesky blue light which we all should know by now interferes with our circadian rhythms. Make sure you designate an hour or two before sleep to relaxation (a bath, reading…you know the score) and try to hit the hay at a regular time each night. Soon enough, your body clock will be in a reassuringly predictable groove which contributes to a far more restful night’s sleep.

DON’T DENY YOURSELF

January has become the national month of abstinence; it’s dry, it’s plant based and it’s (whisper it) pretty dreary because of that. While of course we could all benefit from readdressing our relationship with our vices and eating habits, it can actually be pretty harmful to overdo the self denial, just to follow a trend or tick a box. Instead, practice moderation as 2020 unfolds, in combination with a holistic approach to your health and that all important self care, for a well rounded, wholesome approach. 

With that in mind, check out our 4 IDEAL steps to eating everything in moderation for a little inspiration.