Self-Care Is Important, but Is It Obtainable in Today’s Crazy World?
Posted by Clarence Naylor, Contributor on Aug 5th 2022
If you talk to your granny about self-care, she may not have much to say. Self-care didn’t come up too often in the past, perhaps it was considered a cold beer at the end of a long day.
Fast forward to the present and the term “self-care” has seen an explosion of interest with the number of Google searches for the term more than doubling in the past few years. Our daily lives are rife with stressors that are increasingly taking a toll. We are often juggling intense careers with intense workloads, and toxic bosses, and are ultimately diverted from our interests and personal pursuits. We have chaotic media and politics demanding our attention and concern. When you layer on any stress resulting from a significant other, friend, or aging parent, is it any wonder experts are saying our daily lives are contributing to epidemic levels of depression and anxiety?
What is self-care?
Self-care could mean many things to different people, but all definitions should include tending to your physical and mental health. The World Health Organization gives this formal definition: “the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.” We know it’s important, so how do we get started and ensure it’s entrenched in our daily lives – making us stronger, healthier, and more resilient when the inevitable stressors pop up and try to bring us down?
Let’s also be clear on what self-care isn’t as well. It isn’t self-indulgence like shopping, eating unhealthy foods because you “deserve it” and partaking in harmful activities like drinking or drugs with the intention of “taking a load off.” These actions set you back, moving counter to our self-care goals of having a happier, healthy, life with less disease, anxiety, and imbalance. Here are five steps to a self-care routine you’ll be able to stick to and will start enhancing your life on day one.
Step one: improve your physical health
You wouldn’t be the first person to microwave a frozen dinner or burn the midnight oil getting half the sleep you should on a particularly busy weekday. Days like these do take their toll though and could result in a deterioration of your physical health. Our bodies aren’t machines and have several requirements for optimal functioning. By focusing on these next goals you’ll be stronger and healthier and one big step closer to your self-care dreams.
Practice good hygiene
Proper hygiene like brushing your teeth twice / a day and flossing.
Eat a healthy diet
Make a list of your favorite foods, then consult with Myplate.gov to ensure they are satisfying the food groups you should be eating. Find ways to make your favorites healthier. For example, if you love Spaghetti, try whole grain pasta and vegetable-based meatballs. Create your win-wins where you’re getting the foods you love but in healthy ways.
Get your advice from professionals
Seek medical care when needed. When it comes to healthcare, often by delaying and ignoring care your issues just get worse and you end up with a bigger more dangerous problem to solve. For example, let’s say like many of us do, you tend to munch on a chocolate bar on weekends or have a big bowl of ice cream while watching Netflix. Over time you’re finding yourself frequently thirsty, tired, or getting blurry vision - all signs of diabetes. If you put it off you could do far more damage to your body by not treating it and making necessary dietary changes. If you notice adverse changes to your body don’t delay - see your doctor.
Get a full night's sleep
This has been beaten over our heads for years in research frequently published in the media, but many of us still don’t get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Sleep allows our bodies to rest, recharge, and rebalance. During those nighttime hours some hormones are being replenished and others like cortisol, which is associated with stress, go down.
Become more active
Exercise helps our bodies and mind in more ways than we can count. Incorporate easy fitness habits into your daily life. Harvard Health recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. By moving we keep our body and heart strong, our serotonin pumping and mind sharp.
Step two: prioritize your emotional wellness
The late, great entertainer Jimmy Dean once said “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” Our emotional health is all too easy to sideline when we're in the throes of our sometimes hectic lives. You may be able to run a five-minute mile or eat broccoli for dinner every night, but if your emotional well-being is lacking you aren’t going to achieve the balanced, self-care outcomes you deserve. Here are some ways you can positively impact your emotional health, grabbing those sails and steering yourself out of the storm towards happiness.
Daily positive affirmations
Positive affirmations like “I am strong, I am safe, I am capable” all help our brains and can give us boosts of serotonin. Affirmations also decrease stress. Let’s say you have a tight deadline you’re facing at work and your stress is skyrocketing. Take 30 seconds and tell yourself you’re strong and capable, you’ll feel calmer and better ready to tackle what’s next.
Connect with nature
Getting acquainted with nature can do wonders. Many of us live in concrete jungles and are lucky to pass a tree while we’re walking to work. Others may be fortunate enough to have a backyard, but spend most of our time in the office only glancing at the wilting garden while we’re passing the window. Lower your blood pressure, decrease your stress, and increase your happiness and emotional health by making an effort to connect with nature. It can be as simple as a walk through the park or a weekend hike on the nearest mountain.
Decompress from stress
Do activities you enjoy. During the week this can seem difficult as you only have enough energy to get up, work all day, scarf down dinner and pass out with your favorite show running in the background. There are additions we can make that increase our happiness and health that fit into even the craziest of days. We almost always have a shower or bath on a daily basis, a time for relaxation and free thought as the water creates white noise. After bathing applying a body lotion like our 2,000 mg CBD body lotion with 12 superfruits not only benefits you with the soothing qualities of CBD but also gives your health a boost. Very little time, very large benefit.
Step three: rinse and repeat
Find a routine that works, that you get not only benefits from but also enjoyment, and practice it daily. You can always start small to incorporate healthier food and more sleep for example, then when you get that down add exercise and activities you enjoy. Routines are highly productive as they require less energy and help us incorporate the positive things that help us, like strong bodies and minds. This leaves us with more time for work and play. Once you have the routine down it will have the staying power to keep you functioning your best.
Step four: check-in
Have monthly check-ins to measure your improvement. You can keep a journal where you assess your level of happiness and physical health using metrics like happiness on a scale of 1-10, blood pressure, how many minutes per week of exercise you’re getting, and how incorporated activities you enjoy are. Remember, these should be non-alcohol related, like a book club, nightly CBD topical applications, tennis matches, and coffee catch-ups with friends.
Step five: help others
We can all identify people in our orbits that we interact with, and think of family & friends who could benefit from incorporating self-care. This is not only for their benefit, but ultimately our own, as they become more emotionally well adjusted our interactions with them improve. If your significant other or mother is happier and healthier, that will help you and lessen the stressful conversations you have. The flywheel expands and our lives become better.
The bottom line
A focus on self-care and striving to make it a habit has the potential to add years to your life. The outcome of these five steps are also positive for your quality of life and should lead to a lot more smiling. Stress and hardship will always be part of life, but through your dedication to self-care, you will develop a healthy body and mind which will add resilience and keep you solidly on your feet even during the toughest of times. If you want to avoid developing chronic diseases, focusing on self-care and taking action with your health will help stave many away. We have the power to change our lives for the best and create a ripple effect that makes those we care about stronger as well. Don’t forget to tell your granny to put down the beer - there are better ways to practice self-care.