“Rest and Self-Care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel”. -Eleanor Brownn
Self-Care is often perceived as selfish, indulgent, wrong and unnecessary. Parents and caregivers are individuals who face the most brutal judgment when it comes to self-care and are often condemned when they try to take some time out for themselves.
Society often chastises individuals who seek self-care with the reasoning that they should be spending time taking care of their infant or parent or working or cooking and cleaning, instead of wasting time by taking care of themselves.
This judgmental reasoning may also be stopping you from seeking the necessary self-care you so badly need.
Self-care is not a selfish act. It is not whiling away of time and avoidance of responsibilities. It is a positive act of engaging in behaviors and activities that help with your mental and physical health, which subsequently enables you to take care of others around you.
Dr. Agnes Weinman, a clinical psychologist from London very aptly defines self-care as “Something that refuels us rather than takes away from us”
Since every individual is unique, self-care may mean a lot of different things to different people. However, there is a study of some basic activities that can be an excellent means of self-care for everyone in general which have been described below.
A strong mind and body are essential requirements of a happy and long life. Many studies indicate that exercise is very good for both the mind and body. Research also indicates that even minimal amount of exercise is better than none, as it has many positive effects on the body like increase of muscle strength and a healthy heart.
Exercise also increases the production of a mood-regulating chemical called serotonin, which leads to improved mood and energy. Apart from this, regular exercise also encourages new cell growth in the brain which is essential for brain communication and improved and better reactivity to stress.
Since self-care is all about doing what you enjoy, choose a form of exercise which you like best- dancing, walking, cycling, aerobics or swimming.
Sleep, like exercise, is another essential factor that leads to both a healthy mind and body. Something as ordinary as “Sleep” which we so often take for granted has enormous health benefits.
Getting the regular 6-8 hours of quality sleep helps increase immunity and reduces one’s risk of falling ill. It also increases one’s creativity, sharpens one’s memory, reduces the risk of mental illness and improves one’s performance at whatever work they are undertaking.
According to this research – “improving the quality and quantity of sleep among the population – as well as discouraging the use of sleep medication – is an effective, simple and cheap method of raising the health and well-being of society as a whole”.
The food you eat to a great extent determines the way your body and brain interact. Therefore, a healthy diet is an essential factor of a successful self-care plan as it positively impacts one physically, emotionally and mentally.
A healthy diet comprises of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats and healthy proteins.
It is important to avoid sugar-spiking and processed foods as they lead to cardiovascular diseases, obesity, mood disorders and various other health problems.
Doing What You Like the Best:
Do something you love the most each day. It could be listening to your favorite music, dancing, gardening, walking, cooking or reading a book.
Doing these activities helps you destress from the various pressures and stresses of the day and helps you cope better with the challenges that lie in wait through the remaining day.
Do Good for others:
“Giving is better than receiving”- is not only a beautiful quote but a fact proven by research and studies.
Evidence shows that any kind of altruistic act i.e. act of helping or sharing has a positive impact on our minds as well as emotional health. It not only reduces stress but improves mood, self-esteem and brings about feelings of happiness and a sense of purpose in life. Giving also evokes the feeling of gratitude, both, for the one who receives and the one who gives.
This feeling is important for our overall well-being because research has found that gratitude is integral to happiness, health, and social bonds. Taking time to help a friend in need or volunteer in a charitable cause or help a sick relative does wonders to your physical as well as mental health.
So, do not hold yourself back when you feel the need to reach out to others.
Laughter they say is the best medicine both for the body and soul. More research and studies have now proven that laughter not only helps improve your immunity but also helps you stay strong by protecting your nervous system and increasing your body’s ability to deal with stress.
So, laugh as often as you can. Smiling a lot, seeking out fun and bringing humor in conversations with family and friends are ways you can seek out humor and laughter in your life.
Related Article: How To Train Your Mind to Think More Positively
Man, by nature, is a social animal and is not meant for isolation. Socializing with friends and family and the people you love and care about not only brightens your life up but has great health benefits too.
Just talking to a loved one makes you feel loved and reduces your burden by half. Research states that socializing greatly helps strengthen your immune system, reduces the risk of dementia and increases your lifespan.
So, take some time out every day to socialize by either visiting a friend or talking to an old colleague or skyping a relative who stays far away or by just chatting with a neighbor who stays close to you.
Self-Care like every other skill takes time, patience and practice. So, keep practicing this great skill and enjoy its many benefits.
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