Self-Care Keeps You Healthy
Many people, when they first encounter the term “self-care,” think of spas and indulgences and giving themselves permission to slack on everything. And sometimes this is the right thing to do. More often, though, self-care is more complicated and way less fun than that. Here are some of the best ways to practice good self-care:
Give Yourself a Break
We all need “mental health” days once in awhile. If you are constantly busy and are always pushing yourself to do more with less time, giving yourself time to slack is important. Our bodies need rest. And our brains need candy as much as they need serious stuff. So give yourself permission to spend a Saturday (or, heck, a Wednesday) on the couch, curled up with your DIRECTV TV service, some yummy snacks and all of the sports you want to watch. Or binge watch the most recent season of Legends of Tomorrow. Turn off your brain and just enjoy being entertained for at least a few hours. Your psyche will thank you for it. And don’t be surprised if, after you’re done, you feel even better prepared to face your extensive to-do list.
Get Some Rest
While we’re talking about taking time to “slack” and relax, let’s talk about rest. It is vitally important that you get enough sleep each night. Staying up and making do on less sleep in incredibly detrimental to your health. It’s also important that you get good quality sleep. Sometimes this is going to mean delegating projects to someone else or turning down invitations to events. That’s okay. Taking care of yourself means putting yourself first. Self-care means doing what you need to do to stay healthy and maintaining a proper high-quality sleep schedule is a big part of that.
Proper Hygiene is Important
When we feel low, it is often our hygiene that is the easiest to sacrifice. We skip showers, skin care routines, oral care requirements, etc. Regular bathing, however, is a big part of your overall health. Proper hygiene isn’t just about looks or your emotional help–though few would challenge the emotional benefits of a long hot shower when it comes to dealing with stress or anxiety. It is about your physical health as well. Bathing keeps bacteria and other germs from setting up shop and making us sick.
It isn’t just showering that is important. Having an easy skin care routine that you can follow even when you’re tired or feeling low is important too. Skin care helps keep acne, discoloration patches, dark circles, etc. from happening and making you feel even worse.
Oral care is also vital to your health. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day–and thoroughly!–is important for the health of your whole body. If you’re up to it, flossing once a day is also good practice. When you’re low, though, you can skip flossing every once in awhile. As long as you’re getting in 3-4 nights a week, you’ll be okay.
Diet and Exercise
These are probably the hardest parts of proper self-care. When we’re having a hard time, our diet and exercise regimens are the first to go. We stray from the healthful toward the comforting and carb-loaded. We stop moving around and loaf on the couch or in bed.
We aren’t going to tell you that you should completely eschew your comfort foods and activities when you’re having a hard time. What we do suggest, however, is using them as rewards for maintaining regular healthy habits instead of as replacements for them. Get a milkshake on the way home from the gym–even if you only spend half the time there that you would normally. Have the piece of cake after your well-balanced and low-fat dinner.
And do not, under any circumstances, skip meals! If you’re not hungry, opt for lighter fare and a smaller meal but don’t just go without. And if you can’t face going to the gym or for your usual run, do some low-impact exercises or some yoga in front of your favorite television show. It’s okay to adjust these habits as you need to. But don’t break a good habit you’ve worked hard to build.
Self-care is as much about your basic physical needs as it is about your mental and emotional needs. This means denying yourself indulgences sometimes and that’s okay. The point is that you are focusing on yourself and putting yourself at the top of your priority list. The more you do this, the better able you will be to perform well at work and to support your friends and loved ones.