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Winter break is a great time to reflect and focus on yourself. After the long hours of studying and working, your body can get burnt out pretty fast. When you take the time to reset the mind and body, it can reduce negative emotions like stress and frustration. Maintaining yourself gives the outcome of a positive mindset and you will be able to accomplish so much more in your day. Here are some ways to practice self-care for the new year:

Physical

  • Get Enough Sleep

The average adult should strive to sleep at least seven hours each night. It is important to have a good sleep schedule so your body can recharge. When you do not get enough sleep, your body can become physically exhausted. Try your best to go to bed early enough to get a full night’s rest.

  • Stretch/Yoga

Stretching keeps your muscles flexible and strong. It can improve your posture, decrease back pain, and even prevent future injuries. Yoga poses target specific muscles in your body. Without stretching, your muscles can tighten, and you can be more vulnerable to muscle pain.

  • Stay Active/Exercise

Although it is nice to lay in your pajamas and have a lazy day, your body will feel just as healthy and rejuvenated after a good workout. Exercising can help manage weight, reduce the risk of heart disease, and strengthen your muscles. Aim to get at least one hour of physical activity in a day.

  • Eat Nutritional Foods

Skip the fast-food line and make a nice meal in your own kitchen. According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for adults in the U.S. When you eat the right balance of foods, you can reduce high blood pressure, improve your gut health, moderate your weight, and build strong bones. Eat foods that are high in antioxidants such as berries and leafy green as well as foods that are rich in probiotics and calcium like greek yogurt, fish, and broccoli. Your body will thank you later.

  • Stay Hydrated

Your body needs water in order to survive. Take care of yourself by consuming up to at least ten cups of water per day. Drinking water has an infinite number of benefits that will physically help your body like lubricating joints, delivering oxygen throughout the body, regulating your body’s temperature, and flushing waste. Your body will be hydrated and ready to go when you consume lots of water.

  • Practice Good Hygiene

Preventing bacteria buildup can help keep you clean and healthy. Take a shower, brush/floss your teeth, wear clean clothes, and wash your hands frequently. By doing so, you will feel and appear put together, therefore boosting confidence.

Mental

  • Set New Goals

After an entire year of working hard, you may feel a lack of motivation. Setting new goals can make you want to work for something more. You do not want to be lazy during the New Year, so creating a list of things you would like to accomplish motivates you to keep going.

  • Read

Nothing feels better than sitting down and reading a good book. Reading not only improves your vocabulary skills and comprehension, but it can also reduce stress and allows you to empathize with others. Reading has so many benefits. When reading, you may feel an escape from reality.

  • Reflect on Your Values 

Our values influence our thoughts and actions. Taking time to reflect on yourself and what you believe in can help you improve in the future. This will help you become a better listener and you will be more conscious of the way you react to certain situations.

  • Take a Digital Break

The modern world we live in is surrounded with technology. Throughout the day, you may occasionally check your email, sit on a Zoom call, or even scroll through social media. Taking a step back from technology can make you more productive and reduce your stress levels. Putting your phone down and being more mindful of the things around you will certainly increase your mental health.

  • Learn Something New

When you learn something new, you are exercising your brain to help improve your attention to detail, memory, and concentration. Knowledge is power and with it, you can achieve so many things. Take on an activity such as learning a new instrument or watching an education documentary.

  • Organize Space

Your living space is an important aspect of mental health. Taking the time to clean and organize your space can give you peace of mind. At the end of the year, it is the perfect time to stay organized and update your calendar/planner.

Social

  • Build Relationships

We all need some kind of support system and building relationships with others can improve our mental health so much. Calling to talk to your parents or hanging out with a friend you have not seen in a while can give these relationships meaning to our lives. It builds your communication skills with those you care for.

  • Spend Quality Time with a Loved One

Take at least one day and commit to spending quality time with someone you love. By doing so, you can create stronger bonds with one another. You can remind others of how important they are in your life and how important you are in theirs. This emotional support can boost your mental health.

Spiritual

  • Meditate/Pray

Meditating and praying can give you a sense of calmness and peace. It reduces stress, enhances self-awareness, and can really transform you as a person. Staying connected with your spiritual side can give a sense of hope and motivate you to keep moving forward.

  • Take a Nature Walk

Spending some quality alone time with nature will make you feel more connected with the world and reduce stress or worries. Nature has a calming effect and breathing in its fresh air can make you aware of your spiritual side. Nature is good for the soul.

Overall, the New Year is full of new opportunities to start fresh. You will no longer feel exhausted, irritated, or that lack of focus. Take the time to do these things and your physical, mental, social, and spiritual health will improve. Self-care is the most important thing you can do for yourself.

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Maiah Motley

Winona '23

Communication Arts & Literature Teaching Major at Winona State University in Winona, MN.
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