Facing constant demands from family, work and school, women often find themselves overextended and unable to set aside time for their own well-being. With so many competing time demands, they may find themselves burned out, depressed and vulnerable to health threats.
Self-Care to the Rescue
One solution to this complex problem is quite simple. Self-care is the decision to make healthy lifestyle choices a part of your daily schedule. Think of it as “me time” and a way to maintain work-life balance. At first glance, the concept might seem selfish, frivolous or even impossible. It may even create new feelings of stress by adding yet another item to your already burgeoning to-do list. But understand the goal of self-care is to preserve your own physical and mental health. Ultimately, this will inject more energy, enthusiasm and satisfaction into the rest of your life.
The Mind-Body-Soul Connection
Humans are complex machines. The body is composed of numerous moving parts that must be maintained for us to run efficiently. The mind (mental), body (physical) and soul (spiritual) approach to self-care offers a broad approach that incorporates all three into your daily routine.
Mind. A busy schedule often keeps us focused on just “getting through” the next item on the list. Break up that grind by looking for ways to fuel your mental health. Take time to connect with friends and family. Discover a new book or hobby that stretches your way of thinking. Writing in a journal is one way to practice mindfulness to keep your thoughts clear and calm anxiety.
Body. A healthy body leads to a healthy life. Regular exercise supports your muscles and immunity system. But the endorphins released during physical activity also cut stress and bolster self-esteem. A balanced diet delivers the nutrients you need to keep your mind alert while a good night’s sleep allows time for you to reboot and be ready for tomorrow.
Soul. Make sure you take time to appreciate and wonder. Some women find this through spiritual practices such as prayer or yoga, while others discover their soul alights when volunteering or even just walking the dog. Self-care reminds us that our lives are meant to be lived, not just lived through.
How to Get Started
If you already feel overtaxed, it might be hard to summon the energy or focus needed to wedge a slice of self-care onto your full plate. Here are five simple steps and tools to help you through the process.
Make a plan. Just as you think through workday goals, take stock of life stressors and create self-care strategies to lessen or eliminate them. Here’s a worksheet that will help.
Use notifications. Let your smartphone or laptop nag you in a productive way. Numerous free self-care applications are available to download.
Seek support. Create a self-care “squad” of friends and family to provide moral support and gentle accountability toward staying on target. Also, seeking the help of a trained professional, such as a therapist, may make it easier to discuss certain topics.
Create goals. Set aside a weekly self-care day to focus on reaching those mind-body-spirit goals.
Maintain regular appointments. Regular medical, dental and counseling appointments are recommended in order to avoid any big, stressful health surprises.
Remember, taking care of yourself is not a luxury item. For you to bring your best to each day, each person and each job, you need to set aside time to bring something good to yourself too.
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