Most of us want to take good care of ourselves, and we know that good, preventive self-care routines are the best way to do that.
But it can also be overwhelming, stressful, and time-consuming to try to remember all the things that we're supposed to do.
Have you had enough water? Did you take a minute to meditate? Shouldn't you get up and take a walk? When's the last time you ate? Or slept eight hours? How long have you been sitting at your desk?
Knowing that you haven't done any of these acts of self-care can feel super stressful — exactly the opposite of the effect self-care is supposed to have.
The last thing you need is to stress about how to care for yourself.
But when you have a busy schedule, it's tough to stay accountable to yourself too, and so it's easy to let your own well-being — and health — slide. And that is when health problems — brought on by stress, poor eating habits, lack of exercise or something else — can develop.
Luckily, there are lots of hacks out there to help automate taking care of yourself.
They help take the stress out of, well, de-stressing by helping you build a healthy self-care routine and making it a habit that's easier to stick to.
Here are just a few ideas and apps that can help automatically make self-care a priority — whether you have two minutes or two hours:
1. Do nothing for two minutes (while listening to some soothing waves).
2. Or try this quiet place if waves aren't your thing.
Just a few minutes of quieting your mind can help relieve your stress and regroup your thoughts.
3. Listen to this comforting rain noise or create your own calming noise.
5. Weave colorful silk on the screen at this website.
6. Get up and take a walk outside.
A 2016 study showed that even a small dose of nature, such as a simple walk down a tree-lined city street, can reduce stress. So once a day, if you can, try to carve out a small amount of time to get outside and see some trees or grass — even if it's doing a small walk around the block, spending five minutes in a park, or parking down the street from work so you can walk by some trees for a few minutes.
7. With the help of an app, remember to stay hydrated.
8. And check out WeTap to find the closest water fountain or fill-up station.
9. Keep forgetting to take lunch? Temple and Time4Lunch can help with that.
10. Challenge yourself to make your lunch the evening before.
That way you won't have to take the time to make it or buy it when it feels like you just don't have the time or energy.
11. Track your sleep cycle with a fitness tracker gadget like FitBit or Jawbone or a phone app like Sleepbot.
It's one step toward building better sleep habits.
12. Try out the iPhone's Bedtime function.
It's located within the alarm clock app, and it will not only wake you up and track your sleeping patterns, but it will also gently remind you when you should start heading to bed to get a good night’s sleep.
13. Schedule some "do not disturb" time so you can focus on yourself without distractions.
For example, Offtime helps you schedule "do not disturb" times when you just need to focus or take a break or when you're getting ready for bed.
14. Check in with this calming manatee. (He really does help!)
15. Look at some photos and videos of cute fluffy animals online.
Research suggests that looking at images of baby animals not only can make you happy (because, awwww!) but also boost your productivity and focus.
16. Snuggle a shelter pet.
Studies have shown that petting dogs can help lower blood pressure and reduce stress, anxiety, and loneliness. If you don't have your own dog (or even if you do!), you can help out at your local shelter (and get lots of snuggle time). And you'll be helping those animals get some love and attention too, which they need while they wait for their forever home.
17. Check out instructional and motivational videos.
Or check out Happify, a program designed to help you improve your emotional well-being by taking control of your feelings and thoughts through games.
18. Journal every day, and stay on track with apps like DayOne.
Journaling has been shown to have a positive impact on our physical and emotional well-being. Writing in this phone journal is secure and as easy to do as texting on the go. Plus, it will even remind you when it's been awhile since you last wrote.
19. Keep track of what's bothering you with apps like Worry Watch.
This app works like an anxiety journal, letting you write down what's bothering you as a first step toward letting that concern go.
20. Go see your doctor and get your four health numbers —blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and body mass index (BMI) — checked.
That way you won't have to worry unnecessarily about your health — and you can get help if there is a problem.
21. Let go of bad or intrusive thoughts with games like Good Blocks.
22. Meditate for five minutes — even that's enough to help shave some of that stress off your day.
23. Practice some office yoga if you don’t have the time to step away from your desk.
Research has shown that volunteering and helping others is good for your physical and mental health.
25. Make a habit list.
Habit List is a one-stop shop to help you develop your own self-care routine. It will help you set goals for yourself — like meditate more or remember to eat lunch — and help you break bad habits. And the best part is that it's completely customizable.
Of course, self-care is by its very nature personal — so no one thing will work for everyone.
The important thing is to figure out what pro-active steps you want to take to get a better handle on your health and well-being. And, once you've done that, the good news is that there are lots of apps, websites, and tricks to get you started.
Learn more about how to take control of your health at Cigna.com/TakeControl.