The Importance of Self-Care Part 1
We all know that the choices that we make, even seemingly small ones, can have a big impact on our health. Incremental efforts add up like little steps which over time can amount to skyscraper-height changes!
The key to making these positive, lasting changes is patience (sprinkled with kindness). If you’re making the shift towards a healthier lifestyle, you have to be patient and commit to caring for yourself (first) so you have the health and vitality to care for those around you.
And self-care doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It can be a rewarding and luxurious experience, all while on a budget! So, in the next several blogs, I’ll cover some simple self-care tips that will help you stay on track with your wellness goals.
Building a Foundation With Nourishing Foods
You’ve probably had people advise you to stay out of the “inner” aisles while at the grocery store, as this is where most of the processed, sugar-laden foods hang out.
While that’s fantastic advice, it’s also intimidating. But focusing on fresh vegetables and whole foods doesn’t mean you have to give up flavor.
Instead, try thinking of it as an opportunity to experiment!
- How about adding in a new spice each month? These days, most basic chain grocery stores have large seasoning sections with inexpensive options.
- If you see a spice that you’re unfamiliar with, try looking it up to see what recipes it’s traditionally used in. This is a great way to get inspiration, keep your home-cooked meals from getting boring, and to learn about new cultures.
- Try out new ways of working with produce. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have flavorful, roasted, caramelized broccoli than mushy bland steamed broccoli. Check out this recipe that packs an explosion of flavor with just a couple of ingredients:
Do You Wake Up Feeling Rested?
Getting a good night’s rest is more than just managing fatigue. Sleep plays a crucial role in all sorts of bodily processes. Research has shown that those who have poor quality sleep are at an increased risk for numerous health issues.
Some of the potential short-term consequences of sleep disruption:
- Decline in cognition, memory, and performance
- Difficulties with emotional regulation
Some of the potential long-term consequences:
- Increased risk of hypertension
- Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
- Increased risk of metabolic syndrome
- Increased risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus
Not to scare you, but evidence shows that practicing good sleep hygiene is imperative to any good self-care routine. So, if you aren’t sleeping well at night, it’s best to consult with a professional to get to the root of the underlying cause. However, if you suspect that it’s simply a matter of being stressed out or not being able to “shut your mind off” at night, there are some things that might help you out. And even if you are sleeping well at night, these techniques are great for relaxing in general and could make a great addition to your stress management toolbox.
Guided breathwork is a beginner-friendly way to practice mindfulness. If you’re like me who’s tried meditation but rather than being present, you’re busily putting together a to-do list, then following a guided video could help you ease into a calm state. Guided videos give the brain something to listen to and make it easier to stay focused on the exercise.
Several studies have shown promising data on how deep breathing exercises could improve mood and anxiety.
How about this guided video with several tips to try:
How About a Massage? No Spa Required!
Treating yourself to an at-home massage could be just the thing you need to facilitate relaxation at the end of a long day, or even in the morning if you find yourself waking up “on the wrong side of the bed”.
There are many techniques for self-massage, but rest assured that no fancy oils, equipment or uncomfortable twists and turns are required to give yourself relief!
Have you heard about the Vagus nerve? The Vagus nerve is a main nerve that connects our brain to our organs in the body. This nerve also activates our rest and digestive system (parasympathetic). By stimulating simple points within our ear, this Vagus nerve massage technique can help reduce stress and anxiety. Give it a try:
It’s All About What Works for You
Everyone’s circumstances are unique. A part of what makes self-care enjoyable is finding little ways to nurture yourself that mesh well with your needs.
The suggestions mentioned here are only meant to serve as inspiration for your journey. Always be sure to check with your healthcare provider before beginning a new regimen, and most importantly, have fun!