These days, it’s easier than ever to get swept up in the demands of a career, making a good living, and trying to satisfy personal desires. At the same time, it’s harder than ever for many of us to maintain a healthy balance in our lives.
Staying fit, eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, allowing time for relaxation, and minimizing stress are important. Unfortunately, these activities require a commitment to self-care that often falls prey to the perceived need to work hard eight or more hours a day, at least five days a week.
The mental and physical strain that the struggle for affluence brings can lead to high levels of stress, which can result in heart-related symptoms like chest pain (angina.)
For that reason, we cannot forget that truly achieving balance means seeing to emotional and psychological needs, as well as our physical fitness.
Self-care is sometimes described as practices that help people prevent physical and mental health problems through means that boost a sense of well-being and happiness.
Indeed, the benefits of physical fitness don’t mean as much to someone who’s stressed, depressed, and overwhelmed, especially if he feels like he’s not in control of his own life.
Self-care makes some people feel guilty and self-indulgent for taking care of themselves, a perspective firmly rooted in the old Puritan work ethic. But it’s possible to pursue holistic health without quitting one’s job or taking a vow of poverty.
Make the time
Many mental health professionals recommend that everyone take at least a half-hour every day to do something for themselves — to indulge a hobby, eat a favorite meal, take a walk in their favorite park, or watch a favorite TV show.
It’s an excellent way to break the work-responsibility cycle that makes so many people feel sick, mentally run-down, and personally dissatisfied. Whether you choose to meditate, go for a run, play with your dogs, or catch up with your reading, it’s essential to your mental and physical health that you work some form of self-care into your daily routine, whatever it may be.
Most of us spend the majority of our days indoors, staring at computer screens and talking on the phone. There’s great benefit to be derived just from getting outside for a while and breathing some fresh air. Find a green space to stroll in or just sit still for awhile and listen to the sounds of nature. Communing with nature bestows mental and emotional benefits on those who find time for it every day.
If you follow a daily exercise regimen in your home, consider adding some mental workouts to the mix. Activities like yoga and pilates emphasize breathing, relaxation, and even meditation while still building muscle and burning calories. A good home gym likely already has the basic equipment you need for these workouts, like a mat, a balance trainer, and resistance bands.
Charitable work has been proven effective at helping people feel better about themselves and gain self-confidence and an enhanced overall sense of well-being. Some people even believe that volunteering can lead to a longer, healthier life. There are countless opportunities to “pay it forward,” as it’s often referred to these days. Volunteering in a soup kitchen, delivering meals to shut-ins, or spending time with bedridden seniors are just a few activities that help make a difference in the lives of needy people and make you feel good about yourself, a very important outcome of self-care.
Practicing a meditative discipline is a low-impact way of achieving inner peace. It doesn’t take much time or require an investment in anything more than a quiet space and a comfortable spot in which to sit. Meditation can help you relax and lower your blood pressure, as does getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night. To make sure you get the sleep you need, buy a good pillow that supports your head and neck and use a sound machine or fan to mask disruptive external noises.
A little indulgence
Don’t make the mistake of sacrificing self-care for endless hours of stressful work. Ignoring the need for fun and relaxation can sap your energy and undermine your motivation. It doesn’t take much time or money to indulge yourself a little bit every day. Besides, it’ll pay off handsomely in the long run.
Sheila can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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