If you have a good workout at the gym but come away feeling unfulfilled and stressed about things at work or home, how much have you really gained? Your muscles might be a little stronger and your waistline a little slimmer, but are you truly pursuing overall good health and well-being if your mind is suffering?
Many people follow an aggressive physical fitness regimen thinking it will solve all their problems, only to find that despite the temporary natural high, all the bench presses and stomach crunches don’t chase away persistent feelings of unhappiness, frustration and personal dissatisfaction. That’s why it’s important to observe good self-care habits and seek a more holistic grasp on good health.
It’s not possible to feel good and look good if you’re neglecting the basics of self-care, those habits we’re all taught from an early age that seem to fade in importance as we grow older and get busier. That means eating right, getting enough sleep and staying physically fit. When it comes to how you feel, you truly are what you eat. If you’re eating cheeseburgers and pizza five nights a week, you can expect to feel run-down and overweight. Make healthy choices from the basic food groups by emphasizing vegetables and fruit, whole grains, fish and nuts.
Sleep is another self-care basic that can’t be overlooked. Your physical and mental well-being depends on getting seven to nine hours of restful sleep a night so your body can restore itself and your mind is able to focus during the day. If you find it difficult to sleep at night, consider using a white noise machine or phone app, hang blackout shades to keep the room totally dark, and make sure you have good pillows and a supportive mattress that keeps your spine in alignment through the night.
Take it easy
Most of us are programmed to work hard and to work even harder when things don’t go our way. But it can quickly become a slippery slope leading to a number of problems, from stress and anxiety to burnout. You need time to relax, unwind and allow your brain to rest. Make time for activities you enjoy and which bring you joy, whatever they might be. Consider taking up a hobby as a means of relaxing during your down time. Learn to play the guitar, spend some time in the backyard gardening, or join a book club. Some people prefer to keep it simple when relaxing, so if you’re into long, refreshing walks in the woods, go for it. Others are able to shed stress by creating a meditation space at home, a personal haven with soft lighting, candles and soft music.
Yoga is a highly effective self-care strategy that forges a link between body and mind through poses, stretching and meditative self-discipline. It’s especially beneficial for individuals experiencing depression, according to the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, which published a research study showing that yoga helped individuals between the ages of 18 and 64 overcome depression without antidepressants. You can learn yoga on your own by watching Youtube instructional videos, or join a class and learn along with others.
Don’t undervalue the importance of self-care as you work to become a healthier, happier you. Your mind needs time for relaxation just as your body does, so don’t ignore those things that make you happy. It’s not self-indulgence, but instead it’s an investment in your long-term health and well-being.
About the Author: Melissa Howard believes that every suicide is preventable. After losing her younger brother to suicide, she felt compelled to create StopSuicide. By providing helpful resources and articles on her website, she hopes to build a lifeline of information. Connect with her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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