Whether you’re starting a new career, going back to school, entering a new relationship, or just taking charge of your own life, big life changes can mean big stress. However, they can also be the start of your own journey toward bettering yourself and growing into the person you want to be. Good self-care practices can give you a stronger foundation on which to build the life you want to make for yourself.
Why It Matters
Self-care is empowering. The process involves nothing more than taking care of yourself, the same way you’d take care of those you love. It’s prioritizing your health and well-being so you can meet challenges from a position of strength. You’re already making big changes to your life and trying to grow as an individual. There’s no better time to get started than right now.
Preserve Your Health
You can’t expect to accomplish your goals and be successful if you’re not healthy and strong. It’s like trying to run a marathon with your feet hobbled. Let food be medicine to you, so nourish yourself with healthy fruits and vegetables, heart-healthy fats, and lean meats. Swap out empty calories for a balanced meal plan. Then, focus on getting enough exercise. Feeding yourself properly means having more energy and being able to commit to an exercise regimen. Thirty minutes a day, at least five days a week, you need to be moving your body, getting your heart pumping and your lungs moving oxygen. The easiest way to stick to an exercise regimen is to make it fun, so find activities you enjoy and give yourself permission to participate in them. Bike riding, hiking, dancing, and swimming are all great choices. Enroll in a yoga or tai chi class, or join a gym with a friend. The point is to make your workout feel more like playtime.
The Importance of Rest
Chronic sleep deprivation afflicts about 47 million people in the United States alone, and it’s a growing concern. Lack of sleep affects memory, concentration, and cognition, hampering your performance in the process. It is also implicated in depression and some forms of mental illness. Over time, it can promote health problems such as diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. A good night’s sleep is absolutely central to maintaining good health. Eliminate caffeinated beverages in the afternoon and evening to help you get sleepy before bedtime. Set up a relaxing nighttime routine, and set a regular bedtime and sleep schedule.
Combating Stress with Relaxation
Part of your self-care regimen must address stress management. Your exercise routine will help with this, as physical exercise causes a reduction in stress hormones in the body and encourages the release of endorphins, which act as antidepressants and natural pain relievers. However, you can enhance this effect by learning relaxation techniques, such as positive visualization, meditation, and self-hypnosis. Many people find hydrotherapy and aromatherapy to be effective at reducing their stress responses. You can also try journaling or art therapy. Consider taking up a hobby that engages your mind and hands such as knitting or crafting. Yoga can help you to learn to relax while learning mindfulness and meditation. Even learning to control your body’s response to stress and anxiety through simple calming techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, can help you regain stride during a crisis.
Your journey toward personal growth begins with learning to value yourself. Prioritize your own health and happiness by inculcating good habits of self-care. Nourish your body with good healthy food, nourish your mind with enjoyable activities and plenty of time to think, and meditate. Make sure you’re getting sufficient rest and exercise alike, and put stress and anxiety in their proper place by learning and practicing relaxation techniques. Your self-care will help you build a strong foundation for your new life.
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