3 ways to improve your self-care routine

(BPT) – Self-care — the practice of taking care of oneself — has become a hot topic across generational groups, with sleep, stress management and fitness as key areas to build better habits. But where to start? Here are three tips for practicing better self-care.

1) Get a sleep routine — Only 11 percent of Americans say they get excellent sleep on a regular basis while 18 percent report poor/not good sleep quality, and the rest are somewhere in between. (Survey methodology: An omnibus survey of American adults 18+ conducted online by Finn Partners Research between May 15 and 18, 2019, on behalf of Tranquility/American Textile Company.) Commit yourself to good sleep hygiene habits like going to bed and waking up at the same time daily, avoiding food and beverages within two hours of bedtime, and limiting nighttime stimulants like electronics to an hour before bedtime.

“People are more aware of their sleep quality these days thanks to better sleep science and sleep trackers,” says lifestyle expert Jenn Falik. “But better sleep solutions remain elusive to many. In addition to routinizing wakeup and bedtime, look at your bedding and wind down routines.”

2) Manage stress — Managing stress is critical to overall wellness. Experts recommend setting aside time each day for relaxation activities, which could include meditation, a walk in nature or even chilling out with a good book or TV show. The survey found that 62 percent of Americans say that chilling out at home and watching/streaming TV is part of their de-stress routine.

“One way to help you relax and unwind is to use a weighted blanket like Tranquility while resting or sleeping,” says Falik. “The blanket uses heavy glass beads distributed evenly across the box-woven design to stimulate deep touch pressure, which has been shown to decrease the stress hormone cortisol while increasing the release of sleep-promoting serotonin. I love that these weighted blankets are affordable and that they’re available at popular retailers like Target and Walmart.”

3) Set aside time for fitness — The American Heart Association recommends adults strive for at least 150 minutes of heart-pumping physical activity each week. Exercise not only staves off illness but is correlated to better sleep and stress management, making it essential to good self-care habits.

Experts also recommend thinking about self-care as an ongoing approach rather than a one-time fix.

“I’ve found setting time aside to unwind after a long day helps me stay balanced,” says Falik. “I also use the time to reflect on what I’m doing for myself so I can make sure I am prioritizing self-care.”