Written by Julie Paiva, CHHC
When reflecting back on 2017, do you feel like you spent most of the year tending to everyone’s needs but your own? Perhaps at the beginning of 2017 you had aspirations of doing something special for yourself. Were you successful? Most of us tend to neglect ourselves while making sure our loved ones and our careers get all our attention.
Exhaustion, fatigue, burnout – three words that have become far too common in today’s world. It has become the norm to push ourselves to the breaking point. Many of us feel that if we don’t have a completely booked schedule, we are somehow failing. But as we continue to load our days with nonstop commitments, we are neglecting the most important factor that can cause the demise of all we’ve worked for – ourselves.
Many fear the act of self-care to be selfish, feeling it’s better to stretch ourselves thin in order to help others. But what happens when we have nothing left to give? That is when we can begin to see a negative shift in other aspects of our lives. If we aren’t coming from a place of calm and fulfillment, how can we truly show up for others? We have to remember what we are told during the safety demonstration when traveling by plane, place your oxygen mask on first before assisting others. Having a regular self-care practice has been scientifically proven to be beneficial to our health – an increase in productivity, self-compassion, and mindfulness.
Here are five tips to help get you started on your self-care journey.
The benefits of meditation are everywhere. Science has shown that spending at least five minutes a day practicing meditation can change your brain function, help reduce stress and anxiety, promote emotional health, kindness, and better sleep, and decrease blood pressure. It has also been a place that many people go to for answers, a place to center yourself and have an inner voice be heard. If meditation is new to you, there are many meditation apps for your devices that you can download for free. For religious people, meditation might go hand-in-hand with your prayer life.
Exercise – life’s natural stress reducer. Not only does exercise increase physical fitness, but it has also been proven to decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression and can increase confidence. But don’t just follow the latest fitness fad, it’s important to find a type of movement that resonates with you. This way, you can feel excited to get your sweat on rather than trying to come up with excuses to skip out.
Benefits of the outdoors don’t end with exercise. Research has shown that getting outside for just a few minutes each day can have amazing mental health benefits. Whether it’s texting, social media, or emails, our brains are in a constant state of stimulation. Getting outside allows us to slow down and reset as we take in the scenery and turn off the screen. It lets us restore our minds and increase mental clarity, even if just for a few minutes. Connecting with nature is a natural anti-depressent.
How many times have you heard the saying, “You are what you eat”? A statement that couldn’t ring truer. Think about it: If you are loading up on foods packed with sugar, you are much more likely to have blood sugar spikes followed by an unwelcomed crash. Fill your plate with lean protein and veggies. There are so many excellent recipes right here on Marpe Wellness. Getting creative in the kitchen and making those healthy meals taste delicious is a great form of self-expression.
As humans, we are hardwired to crave connection. Building strong social connections can lead to a happier and healthier you. Yes, it’s important to make time for yourself, but make sure to incorporate time for friends and family, too. They are your life line for those times when you need to “phone a friend.” Next time you’re having a Netflix marathon or hitting the gym, call a friend. Activities together can increase your bond and make you feel less lonely in a time when social isolation is on the rise while strengthening your support system.
A good self-care foundation is pivotal when taking steps to better yourself. If you aren’t coming from a place of contentment, you will be unable to fully show up for the people in your life, making self-care the most selfless act of all. Self-care increases your love for yourself. When you love yourself, you can better love those around you while being fully present in your life.