What It Means to Practice Self-Care for Better Health
Self-care means doing what your body and mind need at any given moment in time and for long-term benefits. Practicing self-care is a great way to contribute to your positive mental health. You deserve love and respect, and the best person to give it to you is you. Give yourself the gift of self-care by making a commitment to improve your life in these areas.
Although stress is mental, it can manifest itself in physical symptoms. Stress can cause weight changes, hair loss, acne, rashes, headaches, hypertension, heart attacks, weakened immune systems, strokes, and gastrointestinal issues. This is on top of its possible mental health effects, such as depression and anxiety. Pay attention to stress symptoms, and make efforts to curb it before it wreaks havoc.
Stress reduction techniques include meditation, being out in nature, and listening to music. Because environment affects your mood, a messy space can feel overwhelming. Declutter your home to make it a serene haven, and you’ll see a positive impact on your stress levels. Clean air has been shown to increase happiness and reduce stress, so bring in an air purifier to rid your home of pollutants and allergens. If you’re a pet owner, make sure to purchase an air purifier that can remove pet hair and dander as well.
You can also manage stress by having self-respect. Forgive yourself for your flaws, forgive others for their wrongdoings, let go of persistent complaints, say “no” to things that don’t work for you, and ditch the negative self-talk.
Exercise has a slew of benefits, such as weight management, confidence, elevated mood, disease prevention, and physical strength. There isn’t a single person who wouldn’t benefit physically and mentally from exercise. Yoga is one the best forms, because it improves balance, flexibility, breathing, mental clarity, and more. With hot yoga, you get the added effect of a sweat-inducing workout to clean out toxins and burn more calories.
It’s important to have a good balance of cardio and strength training. Cardio will help you lose weight through calorie burn, but you’ll get the most benefits when you work your muscles with weight training or resistance exercises. More lean muscle mass could help you burn more calories when you’re resting. Although exercising takes an hour or so out of your day, the self-care benefits are worth the time.
Diets aren’t just fads programs and food restrictions to help you lose weight. A diet encompasses your food lifestyle, making it a priority for self-care. While there are conflicting views on what’s healthy, the expert consensus is that whole foods are the way to go. This means eating fresh, unprocessed ingredients that are preservative-free. Stick to vegetables and fruit, lean proteins, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. For healthier alternatives, almond and coconut flours can replace wheat in baked goods. Pay attention to added sugars, and use blended or granulated dates to sweeten your food.
It might be convenient to grab a prepared breakfast from Starbucks, get lunch with coworkers, or eat takeout for dinner, but dining out can be unhealthy because of the ingredients that are added to make it taste better and last longer. Restaurant food tends to have higher amounts of sugar, sodium, fat, and calories than what you would eat at home. Take some extra time in your day to make food from scratch, even if it means meal prepping one day a week. Your body will thank you for it.
Resting can take many forms. It could be getting a full night of sleep, taking a rest day from exercising, breaking from your diet to indulge, or allowing yourself to relax. It’s healthy to take breaks sometimes. One morning of waking up late won’t ruin your internal clock. One treat meal won’t derail your eating habits. One day off from work won’t make your company fall apart. One day off from exercise won’t weaken your fitness levels. In fact, when you take a rest day from exercising, your muscles are able to repair. Your brain also needs to take a break from everything you’re “supposed” to do.
What are some ways that you can practice self-care? Write down your list where you can see it every day, and set a personal goal to get it done. The only thing you need to give up is time, but the rewards will be great. There is no downside to self-care…only good feelings.
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Article Credit: Brad Krause