Updated: Jan 25, 2021
A recent Mental Health America study found that more than 1 in 5 Americans (over 40 million) suffer from some kind of mental health condition. More than half do not get the treatment they need due to a shortage of mental health providers. Evidently, the need for self-care has never been greater among Americans. Unfortunately, too many dismiss the importance of maintaining good emotional and mental health, and are too willing to sacrifice physical health and a healthy sense of personal well-being for long hours at work and the draining effects of stress and anxiety. Maintain a “work-to-live” mindset by staying focused on things that really matter in life.
Good health habits
It’s impossible to maintain a self-care routine if you’re neglecting your body. Stress takes a severe physical toll, and it’s essential to practice personal health habits that keep you strong, alert and energized. One of the simplest yet most important things you can do is fuel your body with nutritious food, and one of the most effective ways to do so is to cook your own meals. Using a meal delivery service is a convenient way to have the makings for healthy meals on hand, and they can be a surprisingly effective way to maintain or achieve a healthy weight while providing tantalizing, nutrient-packed meals.
Avoid substances, such as drugs and alcohol, which undermine your ability to cope with the pressures and responsibilities of day-to-day living. Also be sure to exercise on a regular basis (at least 30 minutes a day) and get seven to nine hours of restful sleep each night.
Relaxation is an important but often neglected aspect of self-care. It’s very easy to come home from a long, hard day at work so ramped up that relaxation becomes an afterthought. Find some activity, either physical or mental, that you enjoy and which helps put all that hard work and stress into perspective. Watch a favorite movie, go for a run, or try practicing meditation. Be aware that people who lack effective coping mechanisms are more likely to turn to alcohol or drugs to relieve stress.
Life is a grind. It’s easy to lose sight of achievements and memories of meaningful experiences that make you happy and help you get through one stressful day after another. Practice mindfulness by keeping a journal of positive thoughts and accomplishments that give you a strong sense of fulfillment. Journaling is a good way to carry on a healthy dialogue with yourself, and make sense of thoughts and feelings that can be confusing.
A busy weekly schedule tends to throw your work-life balance out of whack and can lead to isolation, a lonely, unhealthy condition that tends to feed on itself. Making time to spend with friends and relatives is an excellent way to alleviate stress, and improve your mood and your overall sense of well-being. Research into the impact of social connectivity has found that loneliness and isolation may place you at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure, becoming obese and suffering from other related health problems. Individuals with well-established social ties were as much as three times less likely to die as a result of various health conditions.
Feed your soul
This is one aspect of self-care that’s often misunderstood, and is often mistaken for self-indulgence and selfishness. Bear in mind that feeling good and being well-adjusted depends on having something to look forward to every day. If you enjoy coloring books, go ahead and spend a couple hours indulging yourself in this fun and expressive activity. Dial up your favorite “Saturday Night Live” skits on YouTube, or spend some time communing with nature by taking a stroll through the trees and listening to the wind in the leaves.
Think of self-care as an important reward for surviving a tough workweek or a hard day taking care of the kids. It’s important, and something you should never feel guilty about. Healthy self-care practices can point the way to a healthy work-life balance and personal fulfillment.
Courtesy of Pixabay.com.