Your Healthy Guide to Self CareArticle posted in: Lifestyle
When you’re sick, what happens? You call your boss, stay home and take care of yourself, right? You hydrate, rest, medicate and (hopefully) eat nutrient-rich foods that will help your body bounce back quickly. Of course, self care is a given when you’re ill. However, all those extra steps you take for yourself when you’re sick are very much needed on a regular basis. So, what exactly is self care and how do you do it?
Show yourself some love with our Healthy Guide to Self Care:
First, Take Your Temperature
No, not your physical temperature: Take your emotional temperature. Dr. Joan Cusack Handler suggested to readers in a recent Psychology Today article that you do this by asking yourself, and recording answers to, the following three questions:
- What am I feeling? (It’s okay to have many feelings.)
- Which feeling stands out the most? (Attempt to explain it and push yourself past answers like “fine” or “okay.”)
- When did I notice this feeling?
Identify patterns that may emerge with your answers and don’t judge yourself. “We tend to chastise ourselves (as if feelings follow reason!),” says Handler. “The reality is that life events generate feelings. They simply are. Though we may decide which feelings to attend to, we don’t decide to feel or not feel. It’s our project to identify them and give them room to breathe.”
Next, talk about your emotions without fear. “The more stifled a feeling, the greater its intensity,” says Handler. “Feelings function like a pressure cooker: Pressure increases without release. Then, once released, the intensity is reduced.”
It is normal to feel a little sad, anxious or even frustrated from time to time. Sometimes a willing-to-listen-friend or loved one can help you unpack your feelings. Just don’t be afraid to give your feelings a voice and reach out to someone if you need help.
Next, Just Breathe
Consciously changing the way you breathe can trigger a response in the brain that slows heart rate and digestion, promotes feelings of calmness and releases stress hormones like cortisol, says Columbia University’s Dr. Richard Brown. In a 2016 New York Times article, Brown and other deep-breathing experts explained that many ailments, like anxiety and depression, are “aggravated or triggered by stress.” However, patients that engage in regular breathing practices—including yoga—are often transformed.
Even if you’re not feeling stressed or anxious, there’s certainly no harm in experimenting with the power of breathing. The New York Times provides these two exercises to try:
- Coherent Breathing: The goal is to take five breaths per minute, which is essentially inhaling and exhaling to the count of six. After you breathe in and your lungs are full, pause before exhaling. “If you have never practiced breathing exercises before, you may have to work up to this practice slowly, starting with inhaling and exhaling to the count of three and working your way up to six,” says New York Times.
- Rock-and-Roll Breathing: Sit on the edge of a chair and put your hands on your tummy. Inhale and lean backwards, expanding your stomach. Exhale and squeeze the breath totally out as you curl forward. Repeat 20 times. Bonus: This breathing pattern may increase core strength!)
There are plenty of workouts you can do at home to help you lose weight and improve your mood. Don’t have equipment? Don’t worry about it! Try these Four Equipment-Free Workout Moves You Can Do at Home. You can also get creative with your workouts and utilize common household items as weights. Check out these Four Weighted Home Workouts Using Household Items.
Psychological stress, including depression, anxiety and anger, may be improved with regular exercise, says a 2020 study, published in Health Psychology. Sedentary behavior and isolation can fuel mental distress but aerobic exercise significantly decreased stress levels across the board for the 20 to 45-year-old men and women in just three months. “Aerobic exercise training has significant psychological effects even in sedentary yet euthymic adults, adding experimental data on the known benefits of exercise in this population,” researchers explain.
Hydrate & Fuel Your Body with Whole Foods
Fill up your kitchen with healthy foods like fresh vegetables and proteins. Make a trip to the store or order add-ins like olive oil, chicken breast, yogurt and veggies. Treat yourself to a nutritious and delicious homemade meal using one of the many low-carb recipes here on The Palm.
If you’re following the South Beach Diet, we recommend that you to drink half your body weight in ounces of fluid each day. From regulating body temperature to preventing infections, proper hydration is necessary for proper health, says Harvard Health. Not sure how to up your water ante? Here are Five Simple Ways to Get in More Water.
Want to sleep in later? Go for it. Want to treat yourself to a movie marathon? Grab the remote! These are unprecedented times and you should try and look at any extra time on your hands as fueling your energy bank, not being lazy. Mental Health America offers several tips to ensure you’re getting a great night’s sleep:
- Eliminate stimulants like caffeine from your bedtime routine.
- Stick to a strict sleep and wake schedule (so sleep in every day while you can!).
- Don’t take naps in the afternoon.
- Stop watching TV or using electronic devices at least one hour before sleep time.
- Remove all devices—including your phone—from your bedroom or enable airplane mode so your sleep is uninterrupted.
- Set the temp to about 60 to 70 degrees.
“If you’re feeling low, you may not realize that lack of sleep is the culprit,” says SleepFoundation.org. Missing out on just a small amount of sleep can affect your mood and happiness over time. Feelings of irritability, symptoms of depression and a general lack of enthusiasm for things that once brought you joy can be related to a lack of sleep.
Lastly, Do Something You Love
Self care isn’t all about nutrition, hydration and sleep. Sometimes it’s just about having a plain old good time. Reconnect with an old hobby or pick up a new one. Spend some time doing what you enjoy most, even if that’s just watching Netflix, doing a puzzle or listening to a podcast. Pick up the paint brush and get back to your passion of art. Grab that book you had put back on the shelf. Rekindle your love for knitting, gardening or writing. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health and taking some time to relax and de-stress is essential. Click here for five more ways to practice self care at home! >