It’s odd how people experience the benefits of self-care almost every day, yet many misunderstand what it’s all about.
Some seem to believe it has to do with working out and getting physically fit, while others believe it is nothing more than self-indulgence—a waste of otherwise productive time.
In actuality, self-care is a very simple thing; it’s the way you feel when you’re relaxed while enjoying a favorite book or getting lost in a much-loved classic movie.
Well-being is difficult to explain—you just know it’s there and that it’s important to your happiness. Observing self-care is recognizing that your emotional needs are just as important as your physical health.
Accepting the importance of self-care means accepting those simple opportunities for relaxation.
Just sitting quietly and looking out the window, doing deep-breathing exercises, or practicing mindfulness can relieve stress and reward you psychologically and emotionally in ways you may not even fully understand.
Finding ways to unwind is how you separate from factors that drive up blood pressure and leave you feeling anxious or depressed.
Learning to relax can make it easier to accept the things we have no real control over.
Get your sleep
Feeling good and capable of withstanding the pressures and challenges of day-to-day living greatly depends on getting enough rest every night.
That means maintaining a sleep-conducive bedroom that’s totally dark, quiet, and cool.
It’s also necessary to make sure your mattress is capable of supporting your body and keeping your spine aligned for a full night’s rest—meaning anywhere between seven and nine hours a night.
Also, never underestimate the importance of eating a healthy diet.
Research shows that eating a healthy diet can actually combat depression, anxiety, and other negative aspects of mental health.
Properly fueling and resting your body are key elements in any healthy self-care regime.
Commune with nature
Few things are as stress-relieving as spending time in nature.
There’s something about walking through a lush, green forest or relaxing along the banks of a slow-moving river that helps you see things in a different perspective and bring to mind the people who matter most in your life.
Contemplation is much easier hiking through the wilderness or taking a jog along the beach.
All things considered, nature may be the best place for allowing your mind to wander free and mentally detach from work and other personal responsibilities.
Switch off social media
You probably know someone who can’t seem to stop staring at their smartphone and responding to Instagram and Facebook posts.
Social media is a great way to stay in touch, but it can also quickly become a compulsion.
It’s not surprising to find that 67 percent of smartphone users check messages whether or not they’re prompted.
So it’s important to shut out the world sometimes and leave trivial exchanges for later.
Perhaps you could even consider taking a social-media detox from time to time. Sometimes, there’s great value in just enjoying a moment without it being intruded on.
Getting to ‘no’
Most of us are pre-programmed to please at work and at home, to go out of our way to help when someone asks.
And it’s a good and noble thing—except when it becomes overwhelming or when someone tries to take advantage of your good nature, knowing you’ll feel compelled to say “yes.”
Sometimes, we need to diplomatically say “no” when it’s in the best interests of our mental health to politely decline.
Self-care is an important form of self-preservation, something that everyone needs to practice for the sake of mental health.
It’s not selfishness; it isn’t self-indulgence, and it’s an important strategy for coping with the pressure and stressors that surround us every day.
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