We all want to look and feel our best. Even when you have a great diet and exercise program, there are still times when life leaves us feeling tired, stressed, and overworked. To truly feel your best, regular self-care is just as important as everything else you do to stay healthy. Self-caredoesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. It’s as simple as making sure your basic needs are met and doing simple things daily to reduce stress and care for your mental health.
The Physical/Mental Health Connection
Actions we take every day impact how we feel both mentally and physically. Start by making a practice of giving yourself a quick self-care evaluation. Do you feel sluggish? Do you get headaches? How about tummy trouble? Sometimes, we’re too busy with the chaos of life to stop and really get to the cause of these issues.
When you have physical and emotional symptoms, there may be some underlying imbalance going on. For example, many people don’t realize that gut healthis related to all kinds of health issues. One of the best things you can do to feel your best is care for the healthy bacteria in your gutand consider whether supplements or changes to your diet could make a difference, like adding in more prebiotic- and probiotic-rich foods.
Another overlooked necessity that many of us are lacking is sleep. Despite being a natural self-care practice, it’s truly a common struggle. If you’re stressed out, you may even have physical symptomsthat keep you up at night, like tense muscles or a racing heart. Whatever the reason, make it a priority to address sleep issues.
Self-Care to Reduce Stress
Stress isn’t always at the root of our problems, but it often plays a dominant role in our lives. Along with making sure your basic needs are met, try some of these simple tips that can help put a stop to stress.
Exercise does more than just help you get in shape. Physical activity is a great stress buster too. If you’re new to exercise, joining a formal fitness program or gym with group classes may be a good way to get on track, and your membership may be covered by your insurance. Certain Medicare Advantage plans like Humana’s offer senior citizens free membership to SilverSneakers, which gives enrollees access to fitness centersand programs all over the country, while insurance companies like Kaiser Permanenteoffer discounts on gym memberships to their clients. In addition to your regular workouts, mix up your routine so you won’t get bored with it. Put on your favorite music and dancefor a jolt of joy, or do a quick yoga session for relaxation.
Keep yourself motivated and accountable by working out with a friend. Another way to stay motivated is to set goals. Many people are now choosing to use a smartwatch or fitness tracker to help them measure their progress (and to see if they’re reaching goals). Many of the latest fitness-monitoring devices can count steps, measure calories burned, and track your heart rate. For instance, Apple recently unveiledthe Apple Watch Series 5 which features fall detection, a built-in compass, and always-on retina display. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly alternative, the Fitbit Charge 3 offers seven-day battery life, water resistance, and sleep tracking.
Try creative expression
Art therapistswill tell you that using some form of creative self-expression helps you slow down, focus inward, and leave stress behind. If you don’t already have a creative hobby, try journaling. These promptsfrom the blog Aim Happy will help you get your creative juices flowing.
Just say no
One of the main reasons stress has become such a regular part of everyday life is that we are constantly busy. Forbes recommends being completely clear (and honest with yourself) about your priorities, and be willing to say no to spending time on things that don’t align with your priorities.
Sure, you breathe all the time without even thinking about it, but did you know that spending just a few minutes on mindful breathing can make dramatic changes in your emotional state? Breathing techniquescan make you feel more energized and alert or more relaxed, depending on which one you use.
Self-care truly is about taking a step back and making your needs a priority, even when it seems easier to neglect them. Start devoting part of your day to feeling better and discovering the best version of you.
Photo credit: Pexels
By Erik Vienneau
Have you ever had the experience of fear trying to stop you right when you were ready to allign with your deepest vision and succeed? That's exactly what happened to me recently - which I gratefully overcame - and I want to share how to overcome this common challenge with YOU.
I LOVE offering AWAKE meditation retreats! It's part of my passion in life to be of service. It aligns with my life's vision to reduce confusion and uncover our shared birth-right of Loving Kindness, Compassion, Joy and Equanimity (aka the Four Immeasurables). In every day terms - this passion revs me up and makes me feel alive!
But then the fear hit. My belly and chest got tight. My breathing quickened. My thoughts took a turn to negative town. I was hooked by fear - the great destroyer of dreams! The feelings of fear felt so bad that they made me want to hit the brakes and cancel an upcoming retreat just because we don't have many folks signed up yet (which makes sense as we haven't gotten the word out much yet!). What if no one comes? That would affirm my fear and prove to my lower vibrating mind that the ego was right. The deeply entrenched thought - that many of us share - "I'm not worthy of living the life of my dreams" - took over.
Thank God for the three jewels (Buddha and all the sages!), Dharma (the teachings) and Sangha (friends on the path) for getting me back on track to my highest potential. I quickly applied some regulating techniques that I'm learning about at the Neurosculpting institute to get out of fight/flight mode and back to center. I breathed deep into my belly, did a mindful body scan and started to calm down. I said to myself gently, "thinking, thinking" and let the self-limiting thoughts go on their way. After a talk with Derik Easilus, who co-leads our next day-long mindfulness retreat on Sunday Oct 13 at Newport Street Retreat about how JOY trumps FEAR every time I was back on track!
After the fear was gone and the JOY flooded back into my system I remembered to follow my bliss and am now proud to report our next retreat is up and ready for registration here. We even have chef Heidi Dietz on board to provide a super-clean veg lunch for you! Watch the latest installment of AWAKE5 video on our YouTube channel (quick powerful videos with amazing folks to help you live the mindful life) to see just how inspiring Derik can be! Hope to SEE YOU on retreat!