Are Your Habits Helping You? – The Importance of Self-Care
Are your habits helping you?
Are your habits helping you? Self-Care is important to practice for all disease states. Giving yourself grace as you navigate a healthy lifestyle that supports your underlying conditions is vital to staying successful. Food is medicine and mindset can directly impact what foods you reach for. In that same matter, your mindset is impacted by how you treat and view yourself.
Take a minute and think about how you treat yourself when you slip on your diet.
Are you kind or do you scold yourself for not being smarter?
Me? I try to give myself grace but it can be tough when I know that exposing myself to gluten will negatively impact me for weeks (sometimes even months).
However, in these cases practicing self-care when you slip up on your diet can help you stay successful in the future.
So I’ll ask again, are your habits helping you?
Self-care is a positive approach to coping with events and life. This can apply to both physical and mental health and can include activities that help you cope and relieve symptoms of different medical conditions.
Self-care practices should be personalized. In fact, everyone’s self-care approach is different. We all need something different in different situations.
Setting up self-care routines can help ensure that you’re staying on track when it comes to your health.
If you have celiac disease, for instance, setting up habits for preventing gluten-exposure can help you from getting sick. The same goes for when you’ve been exposed to gluten. Setting up habits to help you handle the struggles of dealing with gluten-exposure can help you recover gracefully.
For mental health, self-care can be a powerful tool. Incorporating daily tasks to help maintain or encourage a positive mind can help soothe the struggles of the mind.
It won’t cure your mental struggles but it can help you recover or cope. For me, I use self-care practices to try to prevent myself from getting burnt out. If I do get burnt out, I listen and I let myself recover.
Employing coping strategies and implementing positive and healthy habits can help you be the happiest and healthiest you.
Self-Care is for Everyone
It’s important for everyone to practice self-care. It helps you be the best you. Even people who have barely time to blink, let alone relax, need to practice self-care.
It is not a luxury only a select few can enjoy. It is not an indulgence for the resource inclined. It is a process of taking care of yourself. Listening to your body and honoring its needs.
Self-Care is being there for yourself. Maybe you can’t afford a pedicure or a blowout but you can afford to set aside a few minutes for yourself. A few minnutes to just take care of you.
After all, you aren’t much help to anyone if you yourself aren’t taken care of.
Practicing self-care is a very individualized and intimate process. Your self-care methods will be different from mine and that is okay!
I can’t tell you what will most definitely work for what you are suffering from. What I can do is offer you a few self-care practices to try and through trial and error, you can narrow down what practices are the most beneficial to you and your needs!
For the Mind:
Pick a task and give your complete attention to it. Extra points if that task is something you tend to do while distracted.
For me, I make time every morning to drink my coffee. I pay attention to the sounds the coffee makes as I pour it into my cup. I admire the smell of the freshly brewed coffee grounds and I analyze and enjoy the taste of every sip. For me, this process helps me start my day off right!
This one has multiple approaches you can practice (feel free to use one or both options!).
Option 1 is to allow yourself to do one thing (or a few things) a day that you want to do. This means making time to do something because it brings you joy, not because you should do it.
Option 2 give yourself permission to say no. Allow yourself to say no to things you don’t want to do (within reason, of course, don’t say no to your boss if you’re not ready for the consequences). Did you accept an invite to an event you’re just not feeling as excited about now that it’s the day before (or even day of)? Cancel. Listen to your body and it’s needs. Are you overcommitted? Give yourself permission to say no to one of those commitments.
Let Yourself Be Uncomfortable
Seems counter intuitive right? We’re talking about self-care, so how does feeling uncomfortable fit in? I actually use this method often. Becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable is one of the ways I have learned to conquer my general anxiety.
Now I’m not saying endanger your safety or do anything that subjects you abuse or anything like that.
What I am suggesting is to do something that is safe but makes you nervous.
A perfect example is I often force myself to go to parties and large group events. Whether it be a friends party or a networking event, group gatherings make me nervous. I am always worried about how I’ll handle the group of people. However, I make myself go. Why? Because I know it’s going to be fine. I know I’ll have fun and I know no matter what happens, I will be able to come back from it.
If you are comfortable in everything that you do, you aren’t growing and I am all about growth. So letting myself be uncomfortable is my way of investing in my personal growth and practicing self-care.
You are your own harshest critic. No one is going to judge as harshly as you will. So give yourself grace. Try not to judge yourself and if you do, forgive yourself. Whatever it is, it’s okay. View every mistake as a chance to improve. No one is perfect so don’t expect yourself to be.
While giving yourself grace is important to practicing self-love and self-care, so is giving other people grace. We often are judgemental of others on things we judge ourselves harshly on. Stop the cycle and show others grace.
For the Body:
Give your muscles the attention they need. Spend a few minutes stretching and showing them love.
Practice deep breathing. Are you feeling upset, not looking forward to your day, meetings, etc. Take 3 deep breaths. Focusing on only your breathing. Pay attention as you inhale and exhale. You can even go the extra mile and set aside a few minutes a day to just focus on breathing.
Check in with yourself. Check in with your whole self. How are your hands, your feet, your legs, your arms, your stomach, your eyes, your mouth, your head etc. Get a feel for how your body is doing. Do you need to stretch to relieve some soreness in your legs? Do you need to drink a glass of water? Check in with your body and give it what it needs.
Rest is one the most important things you can do for your body. Whether it be sleeping, taking a nap, or just relaxing, resting your body is so important to your self-care and health. A happy and healthy body is a well-rested body so prioritize your rest.
You hear this all the time, but make sure you’re getting enough sleep! Not getting enough sleep sets you up for a rough morning. No to mention it stresses your body out and could be why you’re struggling to lose a few extra pounds. You need to sleep because this is when the body repairs itself. Not giving your body enough time to recharge, regroup, and rebuild is detrimental to your health. Going to bed early and making the effort to get enough sleep is a good place to start when it comes to self-care.
I’ve never been a napper. Even as a toddler my mom tells stories of how my sister would nap and I would just sit in my bed playing. My whole life I’ve had this feeling that sleep was for the weak. Why nap or sleep-in when I could be doing stuff with that time? I was young. I was naive. Naps are great, especially those 15-20 min power naps. They help me feel revived after being burnt out on an eventful morning or day. Don’t be afraid to take a nap if your schedule allows.
Nourish Your Body
Make eating healthy the obvious and easy option. Too tired to make dinner after a long day at work? Nourish your body with fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, protein, and whole grains that you have prepared ahead of time. Pick a day and spend that day preparing some roasted vegetables, rice or quinoa, chicken or beans, and store them in the fridge for easy access throughout the week. Why would you order in when a balanced and healthy meal assembly is at the tip of your fingers. It makes eating healthy as easy as 1, 2, 3!
Pick the healthier options
Did you slack on meal-prep? Thinking about buying lunch or ordering in for dinner? Pick the healthier option. Often times when I order in I will want pizza but instead, I’ll compromise for a lettuce wrap from my favorite sub place.
Give yourself permission to indulge
While you shouldn’t do it every day, allow yourself to find comfort in foods sometimes. Do you just really need a few pieces of chocolate or a glass of wine? Then allow yourself to enjoy those things (just don’t go overboard and drink the whole bottle). Think moderation, not deprivation friends.
Probably one of the most important things you can do for your body is to make sure you are well-hydrated. It’s crazy how much better I’ll feel after drinking a glass of water. It can really clear brain fog and fatigue. You should be striving to get 8 cups of fluids a day. If you want to be more exact take your weight in kilograms and multiply it by 30ml and that will give you a good estimate (granted this is only for generally healthy people if you have chronic disorders requiring fluid restriction this measurement is not applicable).
For example, if you way 50kg then you need roughly 1500ml or 1.5 liters or roughly 6.5 cups
Did you know that when you are genuinely smiling, it’s impossible to think a negative thought? At least that’s what people say. Laughter truly is the best medicine. Do things that make your smile a laugh more!
Simple things like moisturizing, massaging painful muscles, soaking your feet, doing your hair, washing your face, showering or taking a bath are all forms of self-care. Taking the time to invest in the care of your body is so important. The next time you go to shower or put on lotion, try to rid yourself of distractions and really take the time to be with yourself.
After all of that info, I want to know, how will you or how do you practice self-care? Let me know in the comments!