You already know that you need to take care of yourself, but are you taking the time to do it? A lot of people mistakenly believe that self-care means pampering yourself with massages and manicures, but some of the most basic forms of self-care are easy and budget-friendly. Getting enough sleep each night, taking the time to relax and de-stress, and learning to say “no” will do wonders for your physical and mental health, and are all easy self-care suggestions that anyone can do.
In fact, self-care is the recommended treatment method for many individuals looking to lead a healthier life. Those in addiction recovery are encouraged to practice meditation and yoga, or pick up a new hobby to channel their energy into a positive coping mechanism. Those suffering from depression and anxiety are urged to journal, color, or exercise to tackle and redirect anxious thoughts. The truth is, self-care is a universal practice, one that should be an important part of your daily routine.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Sleep
Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, sleep is the fuel you need to make it through the day. Without it, your brain gets desperate for energy and wreaks havoc on your ghrelin and leptin levels (the hormones responsible for hunger and satiety), leading to cravings and weight gain. Other telltale signs that you are seriously lacking in the sleep department are lethargy, memory loss, and poor concentration. You might even notice that you get sick more often than usual due to a lack of cytokines, which are the proteins your body makes while you sleep that increase your immune system’s ability to fight off viruses.
To improve the quality of your sleep and log more snoozing hours, start setting an alarm to go to bed each night. Create a bedtime routine that is soothing and helps your mind quiet down, such as practicing yoga, meditating, deep breathing, reading, or using aromatherapy. If coffee keeps you going strong through the day, enjoy that last cup by early afternoon so you don’t end up lying awake at night. Another idea is to invest in a new mattress if yours is getting up there in years or lumpy.
Don’t Neglect Your Dental Health
Although spending an afternoon in a dentist’s office doesn’t sound like a way to practice good self-care, you’d be very, very wrong. In fact, research shows that poor oral hygiene can often lead to depression, which, in turn, can lead to even more dental problems. It’s a vicious cycle, one that can lead to a number of health concerns if left untreated. So, bite the proverbial bullet and make an appointment with your dentist when you have the time to spare. After all, flashing a killer smile can help brighten your day.
Take to Time Truly Relax and De-Stress
Sifting through the hundreds of work emails on your phone while propped up with a pillow on the couch doesn’t count as unwinding. If your mind is still at work or thinking about the pile of laundry that needs to be done, you aren’t truly relaxing. It takes practice and a lot of trial and error, but you’ll find the method that works for you. There are plenty of ways to relax, and finding what you enjoy is all part of the fun. Meditation is a great way to practice mindfulness and quiet your mind, and it encourages you to take deep breaths, which naturally relieves stress. Perhaps you’d enjoy going outside for a walk, snuggling with a pet, getting lost in a good book, or having a dance marathon. Make sure your home is a stress-free zone by spending some time decluttering and organizing. Create a quiet corner and fill it with things you love, such as scented candles, photos, positive artwork, soft blankets, and fresh flowers.
Learn to Say ‘No’
Oftentimes, we feel like we will let people down if we say “no,” but the truth is that people will respect you for being truthful about how you are feeling. In fact, they might be able to ease some of that stress for you by taking on the task themselves or offering a listening ear and helpful suggestions. You should never be afraid to ask for help. If you are feeling burned out at work, speak up. If you need a night out without the kids, use the promise of free pizza to entice a willing friend. If you need to take a mental health day to regroup and refresh, make it happen. Saying “no” isn’t a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.
Self-care plays a key role in your physical and mental health. Don’t let it take the backseat; make simple changes, including getting enough sleep, incorporating relaxing activities into your daily routine, and saying “no” when you need to. Once you start to see the positive effects, you’ll be glad you did.
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