THE POSITIVE IMPACT OF SELF-CARE ON YOUR MIND
Self-care is a pretty ubiquitous term these days. While it may bring to mind yoga postures and Instagram-filtered turmeric lattes, self-care, at its root, is about preserving good mental health in the face of stress and trauma.
Increasingly, research shows that the physical and mental toll of stress over time is deeply significant. Not only critical for those in the helping professions, but self-care is also central to wellness for anyone who manages post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mental health conditions, and caregiving in its various forms.
While the concept of self-care may seem indulgent, it’s actually a vital skill set when it comes to cultivating resilience. No matter what your personal life stressors may be, there’s no doubt that, in the era of COVID-19, self-care can literally help maintain your mental health.
Make no mistake, a sound self-care routine is pivotal to avoiding burnout while giving back to those who matter most to you.
Whether you’re a self-care newbie or seasoned practitioner, it can feel empowering to know that there are simple, daily actions you can take to improve your mental wellbeing. Moreover, the more you practice, the richer the benefits become over time. Here are some foundational self-care ideas to help feel clear, focused, and empowered.
MOVE YOUR BODY DAILY
It’s no secret that daily exercise is good for you. Not only can it improve muscle tone and bone strength, working out may help prevent many chronic illnesses. Further, daily exercise is a powerful way to protect your mental health. If you’ve ever noticed that you think more clearly on your workout days, this is because exercise boosts cognitive function and can help ease the symptoms of stress, such as depression and anxiety. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise at least three times a week for a healthier body and a clearer mind function.
EAT WELL AND MINDFULLY
Mindfulness is a concept based on Buddhist meditation. Mindfulness practices promote mental clarity and deeper self-awareness. Mindful eating can help quiet your mind while increasing the enjoyment of your food. Further, eating mindfully can help you attune to your body’s genuine appetite so that you’re less likely to overeat. Tuning out distractions, and focusing solely on your meal, is a simple yet profound way to boost mental clarity while improving your relationship with food.
EXPLORE DAILY MEDITATION
There are many types of meditation. Movement meditations, yogic exercises, mindfulness practices, and various forms of sitting meditations all offer similar benefits. Meditation can help manage PTSD, anxiety, and depression, and improve mental focus. Even five minutes a day can offer major benefits, and the more you practice, the better you’ll feel. Research shows that a regular meditation practice can change your brain in amazingly beneficial ways. Even just a few days of practice can improve mental clarity and focus, so experiment with different methods and find what works for you.
START A BATHING ROUTINE
Establishing a regular bathing routine is one of the best things you can do to clear your mind and support your physical health. Bathing can help boost mental focus, soothe your nervous system, support immunity and cardiovascular health, and may help you sleep better. Hydrotherapy offers major benefits, so if you think that bathing is simply self-indulgent, think again.
The best part of an effective self-care practice is that you can tailor it to your needs and preferences. When life changes, you can shift your routine as needed. Cultivating a self-care practice that you genuinely look forward to is key to maintaining it over time. Self-care is ultimately deeply personal. In addition to the obvious importance of habits like eating well and getting some regular exercise going, self-care for you might also include cooking, painting, time alone in nature, or walking your dog. Remember that the more centered, grounded, and peaceful you feel, the more you have to give back to the world around you.