Self-Care Practices to Stay Sane in Your 30s, According to Neuroscience

self-care in your 30s

Your 30s are all about, as a self-made billionaire once put it, “just realizing stuff.” And the #1 eye-opening realization you might find relatable is that if you don’t take care of yourself, nobody else will. Yes, a sad, selfish culture we’re living in. And it’s understandable because that precious thing people call “energy” is incredibly important and equally scarce in your 30s. It’s defined as “the strength and vitality required for sustained physical and mental activity”. I’m 35 and I just got tired while typing those words. We wake up and can’t wait to go back to sleep. So whatever energy you have left, you better save some for practicing these self-care tips in your 30s.

There are many components of self-care. These include your physical health, your diet, your lifestyle, skincare, body care, as well as looking out for your mental health and wellness in your social, work, and family life.

We’ll be focusing more on wellness and self-care tips below, which hopefully will positively change the way you do things in other aspects of your life.

So with the little energy I have, I went ahead and put together the most important self-care tips and habits you should adopt in your 30s.

And I based all of these tips on the works (books, podcasts, publications) of the world-renowned neuroscientist, Stanford professor, best-selling author, and the father of Possibilianism, David Eagleman. Not all of his works, obviously. Because I’m tired.

Keep reading for healthy self-care tips for women in their 30s, all backed by science.

1. Create rituals.

As much as we hate to admit it, we’re enjoying surprises less and less as we get older. We need some certainty in our lives and routines give us that. But don’t worry because your brain actually enjoys them.

Routines, things that are pre-determined, help our brains save energy. Routines also give you a sense of control and familiarity, both of which are helpful in reducing anxiety.

Try to create daily or weekly rituals for all sorts of things. Maybe try a bedtime ritual where you meditate for 5 minutes before sleep. Try a morning ritual where you take time to make yourself a healthy breakfast. And obviously, master the art of proper anti-aging skincare.

But there is a great difference between a life that’s completely predictable and one that’s completely unpredictable. Neither of them is good for your mental health.

In an article Eagleman published on his LinkedIn account on cultivating creativity, he says: “When our brain gets used to something, it displays less and less of a response each time it sees it—a phenomenon called repetition suppression. The more familiar something is, the less neural energy we spend on it. Too much predictability and we tune out; too much surprise and we become disoriented” (1).

That’s where creating rituals can get tricky. Because your brain also needs to be stimulated and challenged, which brings us to our next point.

2. Re-create those rituals.

As we live and learn, we’re constantly creating new neural pathways and synapses in our brains. This is called “brain plasticity”. And hard-set routines, staying stuck, not moving, not thinking critically, and leading sedentary lives are not good for brain plasticity. That’s why re-creating and changing routines are just as important as creating routines. Here’s Eagleman’s take on the year 2020.

“2020 has been an awful year for almost everybody in many ways. But the one silver lining has to do with brain plasticity, which is to say we’ve all been on our gerbil wheels, we’ve all been on our routines. And then all of a sudden 2020 comes, we’re completely off our wheels, where we’re having to create new things all the time and figure out how to do it. And that is terrific for brain plasticity” (2).

That’s why it’s essential to get off the routine train once in a while. We’re not wired to stay the same -physically or mentally. It happens even in our sleep. We change positions without knowing while we’re asleep. It’s in our nature.

So work with yourself and not against yourself and stay on your toes in areas where you feel comfortable. Once you form a new habit, say walking for 30 minutes every day, change your routine and try jogging or pilates. Every little thing you do differently counts.

Eagleman suggests: “Try driving a different route home from work each day. Or wearing your watch on your other hand or brushing your teeth with your other hand. Or going on an unusual, adventuresome vacation” (3).

3. Cultivate mindfulness.

Mindfulness is being in the exact moment you’re living and focusing on what’s happening right now. It’s about not wasting mental energy on things that happened in the past or haven’t happened yet. First of all, Eagleman suggests “living in the present is probably impossible.”

“How do you live more spiritually in the present, given that you have a brain that is always dancing around in time? I don’t know if it’s possible” (4).

However, mindfulness as a form of meditation also focuses on breathing techniques and cultivating awareness. Mindfulness can be incredibly helpful in managing stress, depression, and anxiety (5). And awareness breeds gratitude, which is the best way to bring joy and happiness into your life.

4. Mind the free radicals.

If you’re a regular reader of ours, you know how we always talk about free radicals, UV-induced oxidative stress, and how they damage our skin. Well, guess what! Oxidative stress happens everywhere in the body, including your brain. And here’s what Eagleman says about stress:

“Stress is underpinned by particular hormones that circulate through the body and the brain. Those stress hormones are very bad for brain tissue. They eat away at brain tissue” (6).

Stock up on antioxidants in the form of healthy meals, healthy snacks, more veggies, and even vitamin supplements. And get creative with the ways to handle daily stressors.

Using your senses is a great way to relax and wind down. And one way to do this is trying aromatherapy, where you can utilize essential oils, scented candles, and guided mediation to wind down. Breathing in an essential oil like lavender oil will promote relaxation, which can be helpful if you have trouble sleeping.

Just reach for it whenever you’re too overwhelmed by negative thoughts. You can incorporate it into your meditation session or even try skincare products made with essential oils.

5. Walk.

We’re full to the brim with doctors telling us to get up and get moving if we want to stay healthy and happy. And the best no-muss, no-fuss way to get moving in your 30s is by walking. It’s the simplest exercise. But it’s the fastest way to fire up some endorphins and is literally a treatment for anxiety and depression.

We talked about how stress affects your skin and understanding the difference between beneficial and harmful stress. Well, we’re more anxious than ever and we wouldn’t recognize beneficial stress if it slapped us in the teeth!

“What’s new to be stressed about is that stress is literally chewing miniature holes in your brain. The general story is that we evolved to have stress systems that are useful when you need a fast response. What we did not evolve for is chronic stress, that 21st-century stress that man and woman live with. Instead of a burst of a stress hormone, most people have chronically elevated levels. The body is simply not built to have high levels of stress for long periods. That’s where the stuff eats away at your brain tissue” (6).

As you can gather, you need those post-workout happiness hormones. Plus, walking as an exercise is going to keep you in shape, fit, and healthy, which is crucial to preventing health issues and stress that come with those.

This completes our list of the most important self-care tips you should adopt in your 30s. It all comes down to worrying about things that are in your control and not wasting mental energy on things that are not.

As stress wormed its way into every single moment of our lives, a good chunk of what makes you strong and healthy in your 30s is your ability to manage stress. Well, if all else fails, we can always get a pet or get laid.

Read Next: The Best Books For Women in Their 30s

Sources:

  1. Eagleman, D., (2017, October 17). Understanding the neuroscience that fuels creative thinking can make you more innovative. LinkedIn.
  2. Fridman, L. (Host). (2020, August 26). David Eagleman: Neuroplasticity and the Livewired brain. (No. 119). [Audio Podcast Episode]
  3. Bukhard, B., (2011, April 15). Ask the Author Live: Burkhard Bilger on Time and the Brain. The New Yorker.
  4. Eagleman, D., (Retrieved Date: 2020, February 5). David Eagleman: On Time. The Rubin.
  5. Cartreine, J., (2018, November 06). Mindfulness apps: How well do they work?. Harvard Health Publishing.
  6. Garcia, L., B., (2018, December 04). Stress eats holes in your brain. Star Tribune.
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