What are you thinking about at this very moment? Maybe the loads of laundry that you have to get done by this evening, or maybe you’re thinking about how you should probably start prepping dinner for tonight, or how about the errands that you need to complete, oh and then there’s also the vacuuming that needs to get done. Did self-care come to mind?
I’m sure you have heard of the term ‘self-care’ more than you would like. It’s all over the Internet, social media, and magazine articles. But come on, who has time for that, right? Believe me, I totally get it; it’s so easy to get caught up in our day-to-day lives. There’s the kids, school, and of course we have to go to work because those bills aren’t going to pay themselves. It’s no wonder we often put our own health and wellness on the back burner. But when does forgetting to take care of yourself become detrimental?
Sure, stress is a normal response to the pressures and demands of everyday life and as you may be aware, small doses of stress can sometimes be beneficial as it can help motivate us to complete projects or meet certain deadlines. But, what if the level of stress you are experiencing begins to affect both your mental and physical health? We often hear about how stress can lead to a number of health issues including headaches, gastrointestinal issues, anxiety, and insomnia.
Self-care involves taking part in behaviors that assist in the maintenance and promotion of both physical and mental well-being. Throughout the years I have had many people express that they feel “selfish” for taking time out for themselves or the most common response being, “I don’t have time for that.” But here’s the thing, self-care doesn’t have to take up a lot of time. For example, self-care can be two minutes of deep breathing or five minutes of stretching. Self-care doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to book a spa day or go on a vacation because trust me; I know I definitely don’t always have time for that either. A number of benefits can be achieved by taking just a few minutes out of your day for yourself. Benefits include increased energy, mental clarity, and increased self-esteem.
I would like to share a few of my self-care activities that have helped me throughout the years and have lead to a number of positive benefits!
1. Physical exercise:
Physical exercise has been found to decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression; improve quality of sleep, and social interactions. Did you know that exercise improves mood due to an increase in serotonin and endorphins? Or how about the fact that exercise has not only been linked to psychological well-being but has also been found to prevent the suppression of the immune system?
Exercise can include taking 15 minutes out of your day to go for a walk. For others it can mean going for a swim or a hike. Exercise doesn’t mean that you have to spend an hour or two at the gym; it can be something that you enjoy that gets your body moving!
Mindfulness can be described as a non-judgemental, non-evaluative approach that involves letting go of ones past and future thoughts and focusing awareness on the present moment. Mindfulness is beneficial for a wide range of mental and physical health concerns including stress reduction, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, anxiety, depression, and addiction. Give it a try!
Maybe start by focusing on your breathing by simply focusing on each breath you take. Pay attention to the rising and falling of your chest and the sensation you feel as the air passes in and out of your nostrils. If you find your mind wandering, it’s ok! This is very common. Simply be aware that it is happening and bring your attention back to each breath.
3. Sleep hygiene:
Sleep hygiene is referred to as habits and behaviors that help improve sleep quality and regularity. Examples of these behaviors include decreased alcohol and caffeine consumption, a healthy diet, and avoiding stimulating activities before bed. Maybe try something different like having a bath before bed or rather than turning on the TV, give some relaxation music a try.
As you can see, there are many forms of self-care. Not everything is for everyone and that is perfectly fine. It is important that you find something that you enjoy and look forward to.
Written By: Rubina Gill
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