Self-care is a buzz word in the mental health community, and it is being used more and more. With our ever-increasing busy lives, we often neglect the need to care for ourselves. Although self-care is crucial to our wellbeing, it is undervalued in our society. When we want to unwind, we often sit and veg out in front of the TV, binge watching our favorite show, or mindlessly scrolling on our phones so that we don’t have to think. These forms of relaxation are not healthy and they are not giving our body or mind the care it really needs.
Due to our constant state of action, we are more stressed and sick than the generations before us. We often ignore the need that we have to care for ourselves, stating that we don’t have time, it’s too hard, or that we don’t have the money for those types of “imagined” luxuries. The truth is that we do have time, it can be easy, and free.
When some acknowledge their need for self-care, they get overwhelmed by the changes they know they need to make in order to take better care of themselves. The good thing is that self-care can be simple. It’s making the small, simple changes that are going to help you create the lasting changes that you need. Here are a few ways that you can take those small steps towards self-care.
- Changing the way you eat. This is one area that most people already know they need to change to get healthier, but often people complain that eating healthy cost too much or takes a lot of time to prepare. People are in a hurry and it seems much easier to just grab a donut or swing through to grab some fast food. People also feel overwhelmed when they think of all they need to change when it comes to their diet, so they often give up early or don’t even start at all. The good news is that although making small changes might not seem like a lot, they can make a big difference. Some simple ways to start making changes to your diet include reading labels, cutting out food items with High Fructose Corn Syrup (or corn syrup period), drinking more water (they have apps to help), choosing specific items to buy organic (the dirty dozen), and making small switches like eating spinach or kale instead of iceberg lettuce. If you focus on changing 1% at a time, eventually those percentages will add up and you will realize that you have made a lot of changes to the way you eat.
- Spend more time outside. Today we spend most of our time indoors and that can actually impact our health negatively in numerous ways. Research has shown that spending 20-30 minutes outside a few times per week can actually benefit our physical and emotional health.
- Sunshine. Getting some time in the sun will help increase Vitamin D levels in the body. Over half of the world’s population is deficient in Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a number of health problems including depression. Spending time in the sun’s UVB rays is essential for our body’s production of Vitamin D. While it is not found in many foods, it can be found in supplements, but neither of these forms has the same impact as Vitamin D produced within the skin through sun exposure.
- Nature. Research has shown that the sights and sounds of nature can reduce stress levels and mental fatigue, as well as increase the speed of physical healing. You can spend some time sitting in your yard or the park, or taking a walk/hike. Although being in nature is preferable, studies have shown that small fragments of nature such as a plant, a picture, or a sound machine can positively impact wellbeing.
- Earthing/Grounding. Earthing, also known as grounding, is a mode of receiving electrons from the earth through direct physical contact. Since the beginning of time, people have had regular contact with the ground through being barefoot or using animal skins for coverage. It wasn’t until the last 60 plus years that we have increasingly began to wear shoes with rubber/plastic soles, which inhibits electron transmission. Studies have shown that the electrons gained through earthing, help decrease free radicals and oxidative stress within the body, decreasing inflammation. Research has also shown other benefits of earthing include better sleep; reduced pain; reduced cortisol levels; and switches from the body’s sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system, which tells our body to relax; in addition to many other benefits.
- Breathing. When people get stressed, we often hear people tell them “Just breathe.” Many people blow off this instruction, unaware of the benefits of just breathing. Deep breathing helps trigger our parasympathetic nervous system, which as mentioned earlier, tells our body to relax. When deep breathing is done regularly, studies have shown that it reduces stress, anxiety, depression, and emotional exhaustion. Not only have breathing exercises been shown to benefit mental health, it has also been shown to produce positive effects in physical health such as reducing blood pressure, greater pulmonary function, increases heart rate variability, as well as oxygenation.
These are just a few simple things you can do to increase your self-care and well-being. While this list is certainly not exhaustive, it can definitely get you started on a journey to wellness.
If you would like more help in getting unstuck and making changes that actually improve you relationships and life then contact a licensed therapist near me today at (405) 921-7776. You can also go to Newvisioncounseling.live to email us or find out more about how we can help.