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.
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