There’s a reason we suddenly hearing about self-care. Every day seems to present new ways to make us miserable. The 24-hour news cycle, increase in natural disasters, and the little things people do that get under your skin — the struggle to make it through a week is often overwhelming. Taking care of your body emotionally, physically, and mentally makes it easier. Self-care is constantly trending because people need a way to maintain their mental health.

 

Self-Care and Diet

 

The fact that we have to eat in order to live can sometimes make meals feel like a chore. Instead of sitting down to something of substance, we fall back on cheap convenience foods that are often stuffed with salt, fats, sugars, and questionable ingredients. We buy processed food knowing it is bad for us, so we consume it mindlessly as a way to avoid guilt.

 

A better alternative is embracing mindful eating. Mindful eating is the practice of truly enjoying the food we eat. You focus on the moment, accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations as you eat. The basic tenets of mindful eating include:

 

  • Taking the time to consider the nutritional value of the food you buy.
  • Not skipping meals.
  • Limiting portion sizes.
  • Practicing gratefulness when sitting down for a meal.
  • Noticing the color, texture, aroma, and sounds of foods when cooking and eating.
  • Taking small bites and putting utensils down between bites.
  • Chewing your food thoroughly.
  • Eating slowly and appreciating your food.

 

Self-Care and Exercise

 

Just like meals, exercise has a tendency to feel like a chore. However, getting enough physical activity is essential for good health. Humans are not meant to be stationary animals, so when we live like sloths, our bodies’ resources (fat, cholesterol, etc.) stay stagnant and build up, which leads to health problems, including obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. The neurochemicals released through exercise also help with mental illnesses such as depression, insomnia, and anxiety.

 

If you want to incorporate more exercise into your life but you don’t know where to start, begin with a step. Walking, despite its enjoyability, is a pretty effective workout. Anyone can do it, it’s easy on the joints and lungs, and it gets you outside for the added benefits of fresh air and sunshine. Invest in a smartwatch or pedometer to track your steps and try to hit 10,000 to 12,000 a day for the maximum benefit.

 

Self-Care and Relaxation

 

According to recent surveys, Americans are feeling increasingly stressed over their health, safety, finances, politics, and relationships. Stress and anxiety have serious health consequences both mentally and physically. While you can’t control the outside stimuli that contribute to stress, you can do things that help alleviate it at home.

 

  • Get enough sleep. When your body is not well rested, it has a difficult time operating throughout the day. Adults need eight to nine hours a night, so if you are getting less than that, adjust your sleep schedule accordingly.
  • Take time to relax. It’s easy to get caught up in our social and work obligations, but rest and relaxation are essential to your health. Don’t be afraid to say no to a commitment or call in sick for a personal day if you feel frazzled.
  • Pick up meditation. Meditation is scientifically proven to help with everything from chronic pain to anxiety while also improving heart health and boosting mood and immunity. Set aside some space in your home for a meditation room where you can sit in peace and let go of stress for the good of your health.  

 

Practicing self-care is essential for survival in a world that is constantly taxing our mental health. Instead of rushing through meals consisting of cheap processed food, try mindful eating that brings the joy back to the experience. A lot of people hate to exercise, but you don’t have to be a gym junkie to reap the benefits. Even gentle walking can help prevent disease and boost mood. Getting enough sleep, taking time for yourself, and practicing meditation help alleviate anxiety and contribute positively to your overall mental health.

 

Image via Pexels