Investing in yourself is one of the most important things you will ever do, yet so many people don’t. Don't be one of the many people who are missing this essential step in living life to the fullest.
Below I will outline a few ways to make taking care of yourself a priority.
Maintaining and Increasing Health:
Here is some science behind why deep breathing works wonders on our minds and bodies. Research has shown that breathing exercises have immediate effects by altering the pH of the blood, or changing blood pressure. More importantly, breathing exercises can be used as a method to train the body's reaction to stressful situations. Prevention of the ‘fight or flight’ reaction which releases stress hormone is as simple as a slow, deep breathing exercise. These deep breathing exercises arouse the opposing parasympathetic reaction (the one that calms us down) and help to prevent the flood of stress hormones in our system, which can wreak havoc on our immune system. Breathing is a powerful tool in not only stress relief but in how our body response to stressful situations in the first place.
The best way to incorporate breathing exercises into your life is to schedule times throughout your day. Do this in the morning when you are making breakfast, in the car on your way to work, and then before bed. Once you make it a habit you will see yourself using it in times of need.
Pass on Sugar
I know…don’t kill the messenger, but let’s get real...we all need to make better choices and sugar consumption can majorly impair your health. The worst part about sugar is that it's in almost everything. For those of you who have cut sugar out of your diet you know how crazy it is to see that sugar is in everything! What does sugar do to our body and why does this have anything to do with self-care…here is a quick list from Dr. Mercola…check out his article here to read more: http://articles.mercola.com/sugar-side-effects.aspx
Places stress on the liver
Increases Bad Cholesterol and Triglycerides
Can contribute to weight gain, cravings, trouble sleeping
Generates an addictive sugar reaction in the brain
When we are feeling run down one of the most important things to do is look at our diet and see where we can improve. One of the best ways to care for yourself is how you choose to fuel it.
This is a big one, with so much to do no time to do it in most people are skimping on the sleep. This might be the hardest (next to sugar) to change, but I promise you that this is probably the most important one to tackle. Ask yourself two questions 1) am I tried right now? 2) am I really productive after 9:00 pm? If you answered yes to the first you are like the majority of Americans who list themselves as tired or fatigued the majority of the time. Now if you answered yes to number two, then it’s time to organize your day and get things done BEFORE 9:00 pm. With that said, a tired brain is an unproductive and sloppy brain…we don’t function well on little sleep…and it is almost impossible to “catch-up” on sleep. Set an alarm every night an hour before you normally go to bed…and start getting yourself ready for bed. Turn off electronic devices, brush teeth, start your diffuser, and climb in bed. Make a note each day of how you are feeling and schedule your bedtime according to how much sleep you are needing to make it through the day without feeling tired. I get between 7-8 hours of sleep every night, and it makes a huge difference for my level of mental clarity and function.
Yes! Get up and get moving! Did you know that going for a 15 minute walk everyday can increase your cardio vascular health! Holy cow who doesn’t have the time for 15 minutes? Not only is this a great place to start with regards to physical activity but it is so good for our mental health as well. Whether you walk alone or with a friend the act of moving, breathing, and focusing on your surroundings can elevate your mood almost instantly.
Support Your Immunity:
We are no good to anyone when we are down-and-out yet often this is the only time we are supporting our immune system…not when we are feeling good. It is so important to stay in the wellness zone and there are several ways to do this:
Lots of water and sunshine (like a flower!)
It’s not good enough that we are conscious of these when we are under the weather…make an effort every day to support your health!
This applies to yourself and others. Often we are good at being kind to others and we forget we need to be kind to ourselves too. When you look in the mirror do you have nice things to say about yourself? Do you silently congratulate yourself for a job well-done? Well if not then it’s time to start, be your biggest fan and advocate! Self-doubt is destructive and can build a life of its own. We cannot truly begin to give to others when we are empty. Find ways that build up your spirit and nurture your soul. Self-affirmations and Bible verses are ways that I instill self-worth and self-love. Post affirmations in your planner or on a bathroom mirror so you are constantly reminded of your worth…be kind to yourself!
Friends and family keep us going and help us feel loved and cherished (for the most part). Make sure you are surrounding yourself with those that are building you up and not tearing you down. It is so important for us to stay connected with those that we love and those who love us back! One of the best ways to stay connected is to set time in your schedule every month to call a loved one. If you make this a priority you will see your relationships flourish. If you struggle with building relationships or finding your tribe, start with your interests and connect with others who share these. Commonalities are a wonderful way to build friendships.
Reading is so good for the brain and helps keep us educated, entertained, and engaged. One of the hardest parts of going to school for me was not being able to fit in as much leisure reading opposed to required reading. I was able to find my happy medium and you need to as well, obviously I am a big proponent of scheduling all priorities. Get reading into your daily habits and see the difference it can make in your mental well-being. Struggle with reading or affording books check out the Hoopla application where you are connected to your local library to read or listen to books for free!
Why is the written word, especially in our own hand writing so profound? Writing out our goals, dreams, fears, and feelings can have a profound effect on how we move forward in life. I am not a big fan myself of journaling, but I do a lot of writing in my planner. It is so wonderful to write something down and watch it become a priority instantly, and for our mental health it’s a very freeing exercise. You can look up some great journal prompts online to get you started.
The opportunity to talk through your personal struggles in a safe space, with a supportive and unbiased individual can make a difference in your mental health. Therapy is available online, in-person and accessible on several applications online making it easier than ever to get connected. If you are curious about starting therapy reach out to your health insurance plan and see who your network covers!