Self-Care is a Health ‘Must,’ not a ‘Maybe’
By Monica Smith
Making time for self-care is important for one’s mental health. It means doing simple things that give you joy and that make life worth living. It’s also about simple actions that maintain bodily health and bolster mental health. Unfortunately, people often overlook these actions, believing they can stay productive without them, including essential actions like getting enough sleep, finding ways to relax and alleviate stress, and setting aside time to do things they enjoy. It’s important to remember that self-care is not selfish behavior; it’s an important factor in staying healthy and happy.
Self-care is especially important for people in recovery. Recovering substance abusers need all the mental and physical benefits that self-care provides. Maintaining a positive mood and outlook and feeling well-rested are essential to helping recovering addicts resist the temptation to begin using again.
Going from one hectic situation to the next without relief will catch up to you eventually. Unrelieved stress is hard on you mentally and physically. It elevates blood pressure, and the constant presence of cortisol in your system is hard on your organs. Relaxing allows the mind and body to reset and rejuvenate. How you relax is an entirely subjective matter. As long as it reduces stress, it’s a good thing. If channel surfing calms you down, don’t feel guilty about sitting there and flipping between channels for a while. As long as it brings your pulse and heart rate down, it qualifies as a positive, healthful activity.
Know your microbiome
Maintaining a balance between the positive and negative bacteria in your gut is key to your physical health. Positive bacteria is key to digestion, your immune system and overall well-being. Understanding what’s good for your gut health can help you determine what supplements are most beneficial to your digestive health. Akkermansia, bifidobacterium, and lactobacillus are “friendly” bacteria that activate cells which protect you against unhealthy bacteria. Restoring balance in your gut will improve many other aspects of your wellness, including your digestion, energy level and sleep quality.
Get your rest
Sleep is one of the most important self-care acts of all. Sleep affects every aspect of your mental and physical well-being in some way. It strengthens the immune system, bolsters your metabolism, and maintains mental acuity. Experts recommend getting from 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Anyone who’s suffered from sleep deprivation of some kind understands what it’s like to try to get through a busy day feeling like you’re in a fog, unable to concentrate properly, getting frustrated easily, and losing patience with the people you work alongside. Make a point of getting to bed at the same time every night and maintaining a standard nightly routine.
Guard your ‘you’ time
People who are quick to say “yes” and devote their time to help others are admired and well-thought-of, and it’s easy to become dependent on such a person. However, it’s not necessarily a good thing for such an individual. Running off to help someone else as a habit can become burdensome and makes it difficult to meet your own needs. It’s important to remember that you need to help yourself by learning to say “no” sometimes. That doesn’t mean you should stop helping others entirely; just set aside enough time to relax and do things that have special meaning to you, and which you find restful and restorative.
Hang with people who energize you
Everyone’s been around an individual who can be difficult, someone who saps your energy and leaves you feeling frazzled and at odds with the world. Life’s too short to spend it hanging with people who wear on you. Make a point of emphasizing the people you love and care about, individuals who give you energy and leave you feeling happy. Create a positive environment with people who make you feel motivated, even when things are going badly.
Self-care isn’t a dispensable aspect of your health. It’s a very broad idea encompassing all of those seemingly small things that are so important, such as sleep, relaxation, and positive relationships. Dismissing or ignoring your self-care is a risky proposition – everyone needs sleep, relaxation, and time to enjoy themselves in proper proportion to maintain a healthy mind-body balance.
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