Self-care for a Healthy Body and a Happy Mind

“Do you take care of yourself?” Most of us would say “Yes of course”. Now think about this: “How do you take care of yourself?” It might get a bit more complicated.

Self-care is something that many people struggle with. Busy schedule, life challenges or internal beliefs as “Taking care of myself is selfish” can impact how we take care of ourselves. However, self-care is a crucial part of looking after yourself and looking well after others.

What is self-care?

Self-care means making the relationship with yourself a priority, loving yourself, caring for yourself and taking care of your mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health. For some of us, it means realising that we need to give ourselves the same care and compassion we give to others. If you think about it, it’s not selfish. Remember the instructions you get when you go on a plane “Put the oxygen mask on yourself first and then help your children”. Why? You won’t be able to help properly if you don’t take care of yourself first.

There is another important aspect to self-care. Self-care is what we do deliberately to take care of ourselves. It’s an active choice. It requires efforts, it doesn’t just happen. You might have add certain self-care times to your calendar and make a commitment to yourself. It does take practice. So try with baby steps, maybe 15 min a day and see how you feel!

Why is it important?

People that practice self-care daily notice a lot of benefits:

  • Maintain a healthy relationship with yourself
  • Help you to feel better in your body
  • Help you manage stress and anxiety
  • Help your relationships to be happier and more peaceful
  • Improve your happiness at work and productivity

How can you take care of yourself?

We are all unique and different. Remember you have to find out what works for you.

1. Know your worth, identify your needs and what matters to you

Good self-care starts with how you see yourself and how much you know who you are. Identify the beliefs that hold you back. A few questions can help you to identify your needs and what matters to you: Where would I like to invest my time and energy? What are the top three activities that bring me calm? What are the three top activities that bring me joy? How can I incorporate this in my week and month?

2. Get enough sleep

How do you feel after a bad night of sleep? We usually feel grumpy, irritable, slow and not at our best. Most adults need around 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. If you struggle with sleep, there are some tips you can use to improve the quantity and quality of your sleep. You can develop a good sleep routine, learn to disconnect and wind down before going to bed.

3. Maintain a healthy diet

A helpful way to make sure your diet is nutrient-rich is to ensure you are getting at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.

A balanced diet will include a variety of foods from the following groups:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • grains
  • dairy
  • protein foods

4. Exercise regularly

Exercise is good for your body and your mind. It increases serotonin levels, leading to improved mood and energy. Also being outdoors and getting some fresh air help relaxing. Anything that gets you moving can help.

Ever noticed how your body feels when you are under stress? Your muscles may be tense, especially in your face, neck, and shoulders, leaving you with back or neck pain, or painful headaches. You may feel a tightness in your chest, a pounding pulse, or muscle cramps. The worry and discomfort of all these physical symptoms can in turn lead to even more stress, creating a vicious cycle between your mind and body.

Exercising is an effective way to break this cycle. As well as releasing endorphins in the brain, physical activity helps to relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body. Since the body and mind are so closely linked, when your body feels better so will your mind.

5. Change your mindset and practice gratitude

We all have thousands of thoughts every day. When you start feeling something is off, stop, step back and identify your thought. Then ask yourself: Is this thought helpful? Will it help me to achieve what I want? Sometimes visualising a stop sign and setting a boundary with yourself to stop thinking about it and going back to your activity can help the thought to pass and go away. Sometimes, when a negative thought appears, we find ourselves feeding it. We spend a lot of energy trying to find proofs to back up this negative thought. Try not to go there and instead change your thought for a more positive option and spend your energy in backing this positive one up.

Remember to always be kind to yourself and accept to be imperfect. Every day practise gratitude and see how your mindset will become more positive.

6. Learn to say no and have good boundaries

Saying no can feel very hard for some of us. However, when we are able to say no, we feel empowered. We also build a trusting relationship with ourselves. Would you trust a friend that would always let you down, never be there when you need, never having your back or changing their commitments made to you all the time? No! Think about it: how can you trust yourself if you do that? So become your best friend. Saying no helps us to be more authentic and to have healthy relationships. Ask yourself: What boundaries do I need to set to protect my time and energy? Remember you are not doing this against anybody but for yourself!

7. Spend time with people that are good for you

We are social beings and we need connection and social interaction. Make sure to spend quality time with people that are good for you. However, remember that the closest to us influence who we are, our choices in life and how we feel. So make sure that your people are loving, kind, supportive and lift you up! And don’t forget to do the same for them.

What would you add to the list?  How do you take care of yourself? Let’s all take care of ourselves for a “Healthy Body and Happy mind”!