People who practice self-care by getting massages, facials and engaging in aromatherapy are onto a good thing because these are all excellent ways of relieving stress and relaxing. But sometimes, especially when our problems seem complicated and challenging, it can be easy to overlook a simpler, more fundamental form of self-care.
Self-care is a term that can mean different things to different people and, for some, fundamental habits like healthy eating, restful sleep, and regular exercise may take a back seat to other concerns including your career. In such circumstances, basic health hygiene may be neglected and one’s ability to fend off illness, focus at work and maintain a healthy weight suffers because good self-care should be addressed with the maintenance of your mental health and wellness.
Get your rest
Sleep is directly involved with the most important aspects of your health. It affects your metabolism, immune system, mood and ability to stay motivated during the day. That means you need a full seven to nine hours of sleep every night to keep from getting ill, maintaining a healthy weight and confronting many problem-solving challenges that await you at work every day. That’s why it’s essential to establish a bedtime routine and maintain a sleep-conducive bedroom environment, especially if you suffer from insomnia or some other form of sleep deprivation. Get to bed at the same time every night and begin winding down an hour or so before bed to accustom your body to a natural sleep rhythm every night. Take a hot bath and have a cup of warm milk at night and avoid all stimulants (i.e. caffeine and nicotine) before going to bed.
Following a balanced and healthy diet provides your body the nutrition it needs to function properly and getting portions from each of the five food groups helps keep your weight in balance. As a form of self-care, cooking can be a creative and engaging activity that helps you avoid becoming bored with your dietary choices.
If you have a hectic job you understand what it means to feel wired all the time. That can happen when things are really busy around the office and there seems to be no time for rest and relaxation with the pressure on high eight hours a day. After a while, you begin to feel burned out and less able to confront problems and think through situations like you normally would.
It means you need to find strategies for relaxing every now and then to recharge your mental batteries, and it’s even more important if you’re in a high-responsibility situation where performing well is essential. Find 15 minutes a day to just sit quietly and breathe deeply, to let your mind wander and disengage. Or make time for a lunchtime walk – an excellent way to ratchet down your stress level and get your metabolism up.
Getting to ‘no’
Sometimes, the most stressed-out people are those who have a hard time saying “no” to people at work and in their private lives. We want to please others and make a good impression, and that often means going the extra mile to help out. But it becomes an unhealthy trap when you fail to consider your own needs and what it’s costing you emotionally and mentally to keep agreeing to go out of your way to help, particularly when someone is using your willingness to their advantage. Learning to say “no” doesn’t have to mean being rude and stubborn. It can be done diplomatically and without ruffling feathers.
Hang out with your loved ones
Few things are as self-renewing as spending time with family. Your loved ones know you best and can help remind you of what’s important in life and why you work so hard every day. Sometimes, the most important outcome of self-care is a renewed sense of perspective that time with family can provide.
Take care not to dismiss the importance of fundamental health hygiene as you engage in self-care. A healthy diet, exercise and plenty of sleep are indispensable to good health and enable you to thrive in all parts of your life and make it possible to enjoy those enjoyable pursuits that make life worth living.
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