What is Self-Care?
Put simply, self-care is being good to yourself and doing things that are good for you so that you feel better. Oftentimes, people do not have enough time in the day to consistently make the best choices possible. Other times, stress can get the better of them. It’s at these moments that it is important to take a step back, focus on our wellbeing, and make sure that we are taking care of ourselves. Self-care is not just about doing the things that you enjoy, it’s about doing the right thing. This means avoiding thighs that are unhealthy, including drugs, alcohol, or even toxic people– it’s caring for yourself like you would a friend in need.
Self-Care and Mental Health
If you feel like you’re far too stressed out, like the entire weight of the world is on your shoulders and you are unsure of how to live with the burden, can’t focus, and are starting to feel depressed, then it is likely that you are suffering from something known as mental exhaustion. So, how do you get a clearer head? Many people find that exercising is very good for this, as it brings endorphins into the brain and gets the heart pumping. For those who already exercise, but have similar problems with stress and mental focus, another option is meditation. Take 30 minutes each day to sit in a quiet room, close your eyes, and just focus on your thoughts while taking deep breaths. Meditation has been in use for thousands of years as a way to relieve some of the mental burdens that weigh us down.
Another thing that you can do is to take a break from social media or the internet. These days, people are bombarded with a constant barrage of information, whether it is advertisements, social media updates, news reports or app notifications. There’s way too much information out there, and our brains can’t handle it constantly. Reading a book before going to sleep is a great way to decompress– we all love TV, but books can stimulate our brain while allowing us to take it easy. If you are feeling overwhelmed, give your brain a noise from the constant noise and stimulus– mental health is important, and not something that should be taken for granted.
Self-Care and Physical Health
Taking care of your body is one of the cornerstones of self-care. If you are in good shape physically, and regularly exercise, it is very likely that your mind and spirit will be in as good a shape as your body. Living clean and caring for your physical health means cutting out fast food and junk foods, which are high in salt and sugar. These highly-processed products can mess with the brain, increase blood pressure, which can make you feel more anxious and stressed, and this is not even to mention the long-term effects hypertension can have on the health of your heart. When we are stressed, we gravitate towards the comfort foods that make us feel comfortable in the short term, those highly-processed, fatty foods that can wreak havoc on our bodies in the long term. After all, there was no such thing as a bag of chips in the Paleolithic era, and in terms of the processes of evolution the human body has not progressed far from cavemen. Put simply, humans were never meant to eat potato chips and hamburgers– that doesn’t mean you can’t of course, but it means that you should eat these foods in moderation.
It is important to eat healthy foods such as vegetables, nuts, fruits, whole grains, and lean meats. For the body, self-care also means exercise. You need to work out at least 45 minutes a day, 3-4 times a week. This will trigger the endorphins in your body, which help you to feel good and relax. Exercise is a great stress reliever, and it doesn’t need to be exclusively dumbbells, barbells, or other machines for heavy lifting. If you miss the gym days, however, I recommend combining IV drips with your routines to enhance both your performance and recovery.
Going for a walk outside among nature can also help with your mental health. You can also practice yoga, which emphasizes a balance between the three parts that exist within humans– the mind, the spirit, and the body. There are many great fitness routines and activities that you can choose from to help give your body the care that it needs.
Self-Care for the Soul
Emotional health is important as well. We often take for granted the emotions that we feel and, even more often, are unable to express them in ways that are healthy for us. Journaling is a good way to get in touch with what you are feeling. Expressing your thoughts and feelings on paper can give you some perspective on the situation, and help untangle what might feel like an impregnable wall of thoughts. Painting or drawing can also be a good release for your emotions, so is listening to music or, if you play an instrument, playing it yourself.
Reaching out to friends and family just to talk can also release some of the feeling you may have bottled up after weeks or months of not properly expressing them. If things are bad, you can also find a good therapist to assist you in talking about your problems. They can give you some strategies to change your thinking and feel better– whatever you decide, make sure not to bottle up your feelings, because eventually they will spill out. And this hardly ever ends well.
Other Self-Care Tips
Besides what we’ve mentioned above, we’ve created another blog post that contains more medically-oriented health tips for making sure that your body is operating properly. One important thing that you should do is to make sure that you are getting plenty of rest. A good night’s sleep is crucial, and most people require anywhere from 6-8 hours of sleep a night, but it varies from person to person, and some people might need more. Also, make sure that you are taking care of your hygiene as well. A long shower or bath could be just what you need to melt the stress of the day’s work away and leave you feeling refreshed and renewed. Make sure to avoid alcohol or drugs when dealing with stress, however– they will only make the problem worse. You can also drink herbal teas to help you relax and fortify your immune system, which has been found to be weaker when the body is stressed.
Really, you just need to remember to be good to yourself– treat yourself like a friend, and be kind. We are often our own worst enemies, and while this is mostly used in professional and social settings, it is also true when caring for yourself. After all, it is you who allows yourself to indulge in your worst impulses. Try to focus on your best impulses and taking care of yourself when you need it, and you’ll feel the difference.