For many, good health is something they grew up with, but as we age, it requires more effort to attain and sustain. One of the best ways to improve health and help maintain it is through the practice of self-care. Self-care is any activity that helps you nurture and take care of yourself physically and mentally.
What is self-care?
We hear the term self-care a lot, but what does it truly mean? The idea is to prioritize personal well-being through deliberate steps for a more balanced life. It involves proactive choices, either to engage or avoid, to promote physical and mental health.
At first glance, self-care seems like a luxury. Practicing it is essential to becoming the best version of yourself. People widely recognize the importance of exercising, sleeping, and eating well for physical health. Mental health is also vital, and healthy relationships, reducing stress, expressing creativity, and building connections are essential for its wellbeing.
Healthy relationships and connections are also about saying “No” and setting boundaries when needed. This is a must-have for me. Women, including myself, often prioritize taking care of others over themselves, which can be detrimental. By prioritizing recharging and rejuvenating activities, you can help avoid burnout and have the energy necessary to show up to support others more fully.
When was the last time you assessed your self-care routine? Are you prioritizing yourself? Do you engage in activities that nourish your mind, body, and soul? Self-care is not selfish; it is a vital investment in your health and well-being.
The Link Between Self-care and Health
There is a well-accepted connection between self-care and health outcomes. Positive health outcomes are more likely when we take care of ourselves physically and mentally.
Regular exercise, sleep, healthy eating, stress reduction, healthy relationships, and creativity are key components of health. These elements offer multiple physical benefits, like improved cardiovascular health and reduced chronic disease risk.
Six Ways to Practice Self-care
Engaging in regular exercise has many physical advantages. It enhances muscle and bone strength, betters cardiovascular health, and boosts immunity. Physical activity releases endorphins, the “feel-good” hormones, which help alleviate stress and anxiety.
Prioritizing sleep helps our bodies rest and recover. Insufficient sleep is associated with a variety of health issues, including a higher likelihood of obesity, heart disease, and mental health problems.
Eat a Balanced Diet
A balanced diet is essential for physical self-care. Our bodies need a variety of nutritious foods to function optimally. A balanced diet can boost energy, fortify the immune system, optimize gut bacteria, and reduce the risk of chronic illnesses.
Self-care practices, such as relaxation techniques and stress management, can have a profound impact on mental health as well. Meditation and controlled breathing can ease anxiety and depression and enhance well-being. Relaxation techniques extend to activities such as exercising, expressing creativity, or taking an Epsom salt bath.
Develop Healthy Relationships and Connections
Self-care involves developing meaningful connections and fostering healthy relationships with others, including setting appropriate boundaries. Navigating difficult situations allows you to develop healthier coping skills. Saying “no” or creating distance can lead to healthier relationships and less stress. With practice, these skills can help you better recover from adversity.
Express Your Creativity
When was the last time you allowed yourself time to be creative? This could be through a hobby, writing, coloring, dancing, singing, or even playing in the kitchen (as a bonus, this could be combined with eating nutritious food). The beauty of increasing creativity is that it can be done with very little expense and can yield a lot of unexpected joy.
Make it Happen
You know what to do, but how do you make it happen? Begin by selecting ONE thing. We are often ambitious when we set out to make changes. So, I challenge you to instead to focus on just one thing. What is your one thing?