Tuesday, October 29, 2019

How Self-Care Is Vital to Overall Wellness

Women can lose themselves in the busyness of life. The demands of work or home life can push your personal needs to the sidelines. 

But as the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) puts it, caring for yourself is the best and most sustainable way to care for the people that matter to you the most. 

The Burnout Cure author Dr. Julie de Azevedo Hanks defines self-care as attending to the different aspects of your life that contribute to overall wellness, which according to the National Wellness Institute, is made up of six dimensions: the physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, occupational, and social aspects of life. 

Meanwhile, Dr. Shainna Ali, who wrote the Self-Love Workbook, says that maintaining wellness is an ongoing process that includes a variety of tasks that can be different from one person to the other. 

Coping with the Trend 

The interest in self-care is so huge amid a culture that focuses on productivity. Women, who make up nearly half of the American labor force, face the unique stress from balancing both paid and unpaid work outside and within the home. 

Mounting or mismanaged pressure can result in headaches, insomnia, low energy, tense muscles, and an upset stomach due to constipation, diarrhea, or nausea. 

The ongoing lifestyle of women makes them a booming market of the wellness industry, which is worth about $4.2 trillion according to the 2018 Global Wellness Economy Monitor

With statistics showing that women are still paid less than men and generally continue to bear the greater load in terms of house chores and childcare, a more systemic solution rather than individual action is required. 

In the meantime, women can be proactive and look at self-care as a necessity rather than a selfish luxury. NAMI compares self-care to the principle that travelers are told to follow during plane emergencies: put on your own oxygen mask before attempting to help another with their own breathing device. 

Cultivating Good Habits 

You don't have to wait for International Self-Care Day to enjoy some self-love. 

Psychologists advise women to develop habits and incorporate rituals to sustain their overall health on a regular basis. 

Physical Self-Care 

Check to see if there are certain areas you can improve on by asking yourself the following:  

  • Am I getting enough sleep?  
  • Am I getting enough exercise?  
  • Is my diet fueling my body well?  
  • Am I taking charge of my physical health? 

A healthy diet, adequate sleep, and regular exercise don’t only boost your immunity but also enhance your self-esteem and self-control.

Progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing can also help your body feel at ease and manage stress within the day. A foot soak, self-massage, or deep facial cleanse are also rejuvenating. 

For further immunity support, consider including cranberry pills for vaginal health in your regular regimen. 

Mental Care 

Some questions to consider about your psychological and intellectual well-being include:  

  • What activities am I purposely doing to stay mentally fit?  
  • Am I carving out time for activities that stimulate me mentally? 

To relax your mind and get your creative juices flowing, you can:  

  • Embark on a hobby, whether it's something you've done in the past or something you want to learn more about.  
  • Do stuff you enjoyed as a child. Fly a kite, paint with your fingers, or run through sprinklers.  
  • Get a laugh from reading comics or watching comedy. 

Spiritual Self-Care 

Duke University psychiatrist Dr. Harold Koenig links religious involvement to better mental health. He says that prayer and divine guidance helps people better cope with stress, anxiety, and depression. Religious beliefs also give them a sense of purpose, trust, forgiveness, gratitude, and compassion. 

Emotional Self-Care 

Keeping a positive attitude preserves your mental health, allowing you to think more flexibly and solve problems better. To maintain this, check your emotions to ensure that you:  

  • Learn skills to cope with uncomfortable emotions such as anger, loneliness, and anxiety.  
  • Don't wallow in guilt.  
  • Observe and be grateful about the little things that bring joy and beauty in your life. 

Social Self-Care 

Mental Health America says that a healthy social life means having a few friends who you feel comfortable to be with and confide in, make you feel valued, and can listen or help solve your problems. 

Strengthen your current relationships by committing a certain amount of time together daily or weekly. Be a good listener. Verbalize your appreciation and support for family and friends. 

Meanwhile, it is also healthy to opt out of relationships that lower your self-esteem, make you feel unsafe, or lure you into unhealthy behaviors like excessive drinking and experimenting with harmful substances. 

Build on Small Steps 

Your self-care plan depends on your own personal needs, so ask yourself what area of your life needs the most attention, usually the one that has been neglected for a long time. Identify any barriers, then plan on or seek help in shifting that roadblock. Then decide on one or several small steps that you can take to care for yourself better. Although your self-care plan is personal, you can share it with a loved one so that you’ll have people who can help check your progress and make you accountable. 

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