Self-care is the maintenance you do to prevent an array of health problems, including mental illness. While a lot of the things we do for self-care are enjoyable, it’s not always the case. Sometimes, the amount of pressure we put on ourselves to do everything we need to do in order to be our healthiest can be anxiety-inducing. The thing is, not everyone’s self-care journey is going to look the same. In fact, it’s okay to give yourself a break if you don’t meditate every day or if you think that getting a massage is boring.
In the end, the best self-care routine will strike a balance between being responsible and enjoyable. Self-care is about taking time away from work for your annual physical exam as well as your travel plans. It’s about treating yourself with something out of the ordinary, but also finding enjoyment in everyday, boring tasks. It’s exercising regularly, but also giving yourself a day off every now and then to do something spontaneous. Most of all, self-care is about being kind to yourself for the overall benefit of both your physical and mental health.
Four Self-Care Practices You May Be Missing
If you’re interested in amping up your own self-care routine, you don’t have to make huge changes to your daily routine in order to create a lasting impact. Sometimes, small tweaks to your habits and activities can make all the difference. Consider adding the following self-care practices to feel better both physically and mentally every day.
Tending to Your Gut Health
While we are still learning, more research points to the impact your body’s microbiome have on your overall well-being. Your gut is home to billions of microflora, including bacteria like akkermansia, lactobacillus, and bifidobacterium. Your microbiome affects everything from how well you digest food to your mental health. Keeping your gut flora balanced supports how well your body and mind function as well as how well they deal with outside stressors. To keep your microbiome healthy, eat plenty of high-fiber; prebiotic foods such as oats, onions, and lentils; and probiotic foods like pickles, kimchi, and yogurt.
You should also pay attention for signs of an unhealthy gut. This might include unintentional weight loss or weight gain, constant fatigue, eczema, food intolerance, and more-than-occasional gastrointestinal disturbances. Remember, it is not normal to feel bloated or nauseous every day.
Treat Pain and Anxiety Naturally
Self-care also means opting for natural solutions to pain and anxiety whenever possible, as prescription medications can cause harmful side effects. An example of pain is post-workout soreness; exercising is vital for good health, but you may experience inflammation due to certain workouts. Anxiety, meanwhile, can wreak havoc on your overall health. Unfortunately, being in pain can increase anxiety, and feeling anxiety can amplify feelings of pain. It is a vicious cycle, but one you can control.
To treat pain and anxiety, one option you can try is CBD oil. Research has shown that it can reduce inflammation in the muscles, so post-workout recovery can be less painful. CBD can also help reduce anxiety and improve mood by helping to regulate cortisol, a hormone that affects stress. You should ask your doctor before trying this remedy, then refer to a list of the best CBD oils online.
Get More Sleep
Adults who do everything right when it comes to their health will always find ways to justify their sleep deprivation. However, those who do not prioritize sleep will regret it in the long run. Your body needs its rest to process information and restore damaged tissues. When you sleep enough, everything else works better. It may even be the missing link to weight loss. Many studies have shown time and again that people who get enough sleep tend to have a healthier weight than their insomniac counterparts. This may be due in part to the extra energy their bodies have after night of restful slumber.
To get more sleep, try sticking to a regular routine where you go to sleep at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. It’s not just your schedule that can affect your ability to rest, the environment plays a role, too. Dry air can also affect the quality of your sleep. If you’re constantly waking up with a sore or itchy throat, you may need to raise the humidity in your bedroom. In this case, your best bet is to add a humidifier.
Save a Little More Money
Instead of treating yourself to take-out or delivery multiple times a week or getting that extra drink or two at happy hour, make a conscious effort to spend a little less and save a little more. You can either use that money to meet a big financial goal you have in your sights or simply stash it in a high-yield account for a rainy day.
To save more money, get familiar with easy-to-make and affordable five-ingredient meals. Not only will you save more than a few pennies, but the calories you’ll be cutting eating at home can also help reduce belly fat for a longer and healthier life. Other ways to save include having a set percentage of your paycheck automatically routed to a separate savings account and taking advantage of free activities and attractions in your hometown. Remember, you don’t have to waste a ton of money to enjoy a wonderful meal or to keep yourself and your family entertained.
No two people’s self-care routines will look exactly the same, but everyone should seek to balance between the responsible and enjoyable. Self-care is about relaxation and happiness, yes, but it’s also about the boring — even unenjoyable — maintenance tasks we have to do for our physical and mental well-being. To make the most of your self-care, don’t overlook the small things like eating more pre- and probiotic foods for your microbiome health, treating pain and anxiety naturally whenever possible, getting plenty of sleep each night, and finding ways to spend less and save more for your financial security.