Do you only think about self-care when you’re already in trouble? You want to eat healthier because your doctor says you need to lower your cholesterol, or you decide to start meditating because job stress is keeping you up at night.
Self-care is more effective when it’s an ongoing part of your life. Otherwise, you’re stuck trying to catch up, and you may increase your risk for many serious health conditions. Almost 80 percent of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes could be prevented with positive lifestyle changes, according to the World Health Organization.
Photo Credit: Audrey Fretz
Start being more proactive about self-care. Adopt new habits that will enhance your physical, social, and psychological wellbeing.
Self-Care Habits for Your Physical Wellbeing:
1. Become weight conscious. Obesity puts a heavy strain on your heart and joints. Take off excess pounds by eating nutrient dense food and reducing your portion sizes. Preparing meals at home instead of dining out will give you more control over the ingredients.
2. Eat more produce. Plan your daily menu around vegetables, fruits, and other whole foods. Most plant foods provide fiber and important vitamins and minerals with relatively few calories.
3. Cut down on salt and sugar. The average American consumes 3 times the recommended amount of sugar, and almost 90% consume too much sodium. Avoiding most processed foods will help you to stay within safe limits.
4. Exercise regularly. Aim for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or a combination of intense and moderate workouts. Train for strength and flexibility too.
5. Sleep well. Your body and mind need adequate sleep to function well. Darken your bedroom and block out background noise so you can get 7 to 8 hours of quality slumber each night.
6. Quit smoking. Tobacco causes cancer and damages your heart. Most smokers need five attempts or more to quit permanently so keep trying. Talk with your doctor about medication or other tools that may help.
Self-Care Habits for Your Social Wellbeing:
1. Eat family dinners. Eating together strengthens family connections. In addition to enjoying the conversation and shared experience, you’re also likely to eat a more balanced diet.
2. Cultivate friendships. Supportive friendships enrich your life by building your confidence and resilience. Schedule standing dates for coffee and lunch. Call a friend when you’re upset or when you want to share happy news.
3. Join a club. Some experts believe that loneliness can be just as hazardous to your health as smoking. If you’re searching for a sense of community, do volunteer work or join a club where you can find others who share your interests.
Self-Care Habits for Your Psychological Wellbeing:
1. Live mindfully. Meditate daily or engage in other practices that help you to focus on the here and now. Slow down and concentrate on one activity at a time.
2. Find a hobby. Fill your leisure hours with rewarding projects. Learn to play a musical instrument or study a foreign language. Cook gourmet dinners or build wooden furniture. There are many inexpensive hobbies or pastimes where you can earn some income to cover the costs.
3. Laugh it up. Find the courage to laugh at yourself. Brighten up a tough day by watching a funny video or listening to your coworker’s jokes.
4. Manage stress. Enjoy deep breathing or other relaxation methods that work for you. Take frequent breaks throughout the day to relieve tension and restore your energy before tackling your next task. Replace anger and sadness with forgiveness and gratitude.
Life is full of challenges. You’ll deal with them more successfully if you practice healthy lifestyle habits consistently. The proactive path to self-care will help you to look after yourself and keep enjoying the activities you love.