365 days a year, yet less than one of those days will be spent seeking the attention of health care professionals, statistically speaking, 0.001% of your time each year will go towards this. What you do with the remaining 364 days is up to you, but this lack of time spent focusing on our health reveals the importance of self-care today.
What is Self-Care?
“Self-care” is a term that is used commonly and loosely today. “Go treat yourself,” “Take care of yourself,” or “Make sure to find time for yourself today” are just some of the phrases used when referencing self-care. While we might hear this term and these phrases frequently, do we genuinely know what self-care looks like and the importance of self-care?
The World Health Organization defines self-care as “the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health worker.”
Self-care can look like a wide variety of things, but at its core it is any action that provides rest and relaxation for our bodies and mind, leading to an increase in our overall well-being and health and a reduction in stress.
Simple enough, right? Self-care can actually be extremely difficult to achieve and maintain without the proper tools and time management, so it is critical to plan ahead for time to take care of yourself. The idea of preparing for self-care might seem counterintuitive, like you’re just adding another thing to your to-do list, so how do we change that?
Don’t Let Self-Care Be a Chore
Many people create a self-care plan, and they are eager to achieve their goals, whether it be an hour of exercise a day or spending alone time watching an episode of their favorite show a day. No matter how big or small your self-care plans are, it requires work to change your habits and include these things. Not reaching these goals can be defeating. By realizing that there will be mess-ups, we can change our perspective on self-care and focus on the end destination rather than the daily routine.
Another common mistake with beginning a self-care practice is creating too high of expectations for yourself. Start small. For example, maybe you want to exercise more, start with a daily walk around the block rather than a full hour-long trip to the gym. You can fit in time to go to the gym as well throughout the week, but you lose the pressure and disappointment of not achieving your goal by starting smaller.
For many people, there is a certain hesitancy with self-care, as they are focused on taking care of the other people in their life. This is normal, but in order to take care of others fully, you must be taken care of too. By recognizing the importance of self-care we can take the first steps toward improving our overall well-being.
The Effects of Self-Care on Anxiety, Stress, and Depression
Stress is a normal human response to something that is present or coming up, such as an interaction with someone or a test or situation you are undergoing. Anxiety is built from this stress, and it is more severe and long-term. Both stress and anxiety are common in our society, with 1 in 3 people suffering from them, but there are steps we can take to treat and lessen the effects.
Depression is a mood disorder that severely affects your overall well-being. The symptoms of depression range from a chronic sad mood to difficulty sleeping and eating to the lack of desire to do daily tasks. Along with stress and anxiety, depression is common, in fact, it is one of the most prevalent mental disorders in the United States. There are a vast variety of treatment options, including steps you can take for your personal well-being which reiterates the importance of self-care.
Many studies have been done on the effect of self-care on these mental disorders. The benefits are amazing. Self-care not only decreases stress, anxiety, and depression but also increases concentration, energy, happiness, physical health, and spiritual health.
Seven Easy Self-Care Practices
- Sleep - It is important to have a consistent sleep schedule and get adequate sleep each night.
- Eating - A balanced diet is vital for your mental health, try to get foods from each food group every day and stay hydrated.
- Exercise - Getting up and exercising is proven to increase happiness levels, try to move at least 30 minutes a day. The type of exercise doesn’t matter, find something you enjoy!
- Meditation - Spending time being mindful can help to reduce stress and help to target where negative emotions may be coming from.
- Limit screen time - Reducing the amount of news and notifications you receive, time on social media, and screen time during meals or when with friends and family is an important method of self-care. It can help to feel more connected with the people around you and reduce the negativity that can come from social media.
- Gratitude - It can be easy to see the negative, but taking time to recognize the gifts we have can dramatically improve your mood and outlook on life.
- Read - Allow your mind to escape the pressures of the world and use your imagination.
Natural Supplements That Can Be a Part of Your Self-Care Journey
- Lavender may help provide relaxation, stress relief, and sleep aid. Try adding lavender to a hot bath and spend some time relaxing!
- Adding turmeric to tea is not only delicious, but also has many potential health benefits such as improving digestion, immune response, and inflammation response.
- One natural supplement that directly targets stress and anxiety is ashwagandha. Adding this to your diet may help to reduce anxiety and improve mental clarity.
- Take care of your immune system and health with kombucha tea and immune support products, such as immune support shots or capsules.
- Get some extra nutrients in your diet with these Vita Fruit and Veggie Capsules, containing 25 organic fruits and vegetables.
- Mushrooms are not only an amazing antioxidant but also contain a great amount of B vitamins. These mushroom blend capsules are great for your physical health, but they also may promote calmness and improve your overall mood.