Self Care is something a lot of people talk about these days and it indeed is important for our overall health and wellbeing. In its essence it’s the balance we all need in our lifes to be healthy and balanced. In todays day and age it’s all too easy to glorify productivity and to not take good care of our mental and physical health as a consequence. Taking some time off to recharge feels like indulgence or even a waste of time.
But guess what? Not taking proper care of yourself is counterproductive in the long run. As the saying goes: You cannot pour from an empty cup. Period.
I’m not saying that productivity is bad or evil, mind you! What I’m saying is that humans are complex beings who need balance to function well and be happy in the long run.
There are quite a lot of things that you can do to improve your life tremendously. Most of them are actually quite obvious, though they need application to be of any value! Don’t just read through this article and then continue with your usual routine. Knowledge without action is utterly useless. There’s no benefit in it. Do me a favor and pick at least one of the things I’m going to mention here and give it a try.
Even though it’s widely known that a sound and healthy sleep it fundamentally necessary for us to function properly, many people sleep too little. Sleep deprivation actually decreases productivity, concentration and even motivation. Therefore it is vital to get a good nights rest on a regular basis. Between 7 to 9 hours is the usual range for an adult, though I know that I get pretty moody if I only get 7 hours. The right duration is individual, so you have to try different ones if you don’t know your needs. Keep in mind that there is a golden middle, because too much sleep can make you sluggish as well! Also remember that sleep adjustments need time, you can’t expect huge changes in a single night. Go for a few days or even weeks to see a consistent result.
Good sleep hygiene is just as important as adequate duration. If you find yourself tossing and turning all night or if you can’t fall asleep at all, you have to figure out a way to wind down. Try to ban technology from your bedroom and don’t sit on the computer before going to bed. The light of a screen actually worsens your chance to fall asleep. You can even disconnect entirely after 8 p.m. or whatever works for you.
If you find yourself pondering and musing at night, you may want to give journaling a try. Just write down everything going on inside your mind, before you go to sleep. This helps processing everything and you’re less prone to do it at night.
However if you find yourself tormented with ongoing sleeplessness, I’d recommend seeing a doctor.
Next I want to talk about the food that you eat. I’m not someone to encourage one specific diet for everyone, because I’m convinced that there is no one-type-fits-all kind of diet. We are all unique individuals and this applies to our dietary needs as well.
I do think though that convenience food and instant meals usually have so many unnatural ingredients in them, that I can’t imagine them to be healthy, let alone nutritious. Cooking for yourself is not as hard as it may seem. Youtube and a ton of helpful cooking blogs are out there for you to check out and learn as you go. If you prefer books over the Internet, I recommend this book. It contains everything you need to get started in the kitchen.
For me personally a diet with lots of fresh vegetables and fruits at the center is a good start. I try to limit my meat and dairy consumption mostly because of environmental issues. Even though I’m not vegan or even vegetarian, I usually eat meat only once a week and I like it that way. Aside from healthy fats from nuts and seeds and protein from different kinds of legume I also try to get my carbs mostly from whole grains, potatoes and rice. Sugar and white flour is something I try to limit, though there are days that I indulge more than I planned to. That’s okay though, because I think balance overall is key.
The most important thing about food, in my opinion, is that you enjoy it, both with your taste buds and with your body. If you like the taste and you know that your body thrives on it – perfect!
Physical movement of the body is vital for your overall wellbeing, which is why I’m including it here. Our typical sedentary lifestyles cause lots of health problems not to mention the drain on our mental energy. I guess part of this is due to high passive stress levels. Stress triggers our fight or flight response, but if we’re simply sitting at our desk, the energy to fight or flight has no outlet. I guess most of you know how relieving it feels to punch a punching bag or go for a run when you’re angry or stressed.
You don’t have to torture yourself to the gym if you absolutely dread it and you don’t have to go for a run if you think it’s utterly boring. The ways to move your body are plentiful and it’s up to you to find something that you enjoy doing. If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t stick to it.
My regular exercise regimen is to simply take a walk outside. Sometimes it’s a brisk walk, sometimes it’s more of a stroll, but I’m moving my body, I get some daylight and I get to enjoy nature. I always feel refreshed and energized afterwards.
Yes, I know, everyone’s talking about meditation and it’s kind of the new cool thing. It’s no fad though, because meditation has such a multitude of positive impacts on ones life, that it’s something not to be overlooked.
It’s an invaluable way to get yourself to be in the present moment. With todays overuse of Social Media, emails and whatnot it’s more important than ever to balance it out. Our attention spans are getting smaller and smaller and most of us frankly distract ourselves from simply being. It’s uncomfortable, I get it. Still, escaping discomfort is no solution.
There are different kinds of meditation and I’m not judging any of them. If you couldn’t find access to meditation yet, you may want to try out different approaches.
You can simply sit down in awareness and try to calm your mind. When a thought comes up, your recognize it and let it go by concentrating on the present moment or your breath. Concentrating on your breath is probably the easiest way to get started with. You don’t have to influence your breath, simply observe and feel it.
Another way is to follow a guided meditation. This is typically a recording with calming sounds or music and a voice who guides you along the journey. You can simply deepen your relaxation or you can even travel mentally to another place. Whatever you like. I highly recommend The Honest Guys on Youtube. They make great meditations and I’ve been listening to them for years. I especially love their Middle Earth Meditations 🙂
Yet another way is to do mindfulness walks. For some people it’s unbearable to sit down to do nothing. If that is you, you can go for a walk in nature and simply let the surroundings sink in on you. The chirping of the birds, the rustling of the wind in the trees, the smell of the flowers and the touch of the sunlight on your skin. Try to take everything in with all of your senses.
A comprehensive and amazing book about meditation is Meditation For Dummies by Stephan Bodian.
These are all the things I want to talk about today, because I don’t want to blow up this article more than necessary. I’m probably going to write another one soon to expand on this important topic of self care. What are your own thoughts on this matter?
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