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Are you taking care of yourself?  I don’t mean do you do things you enjoy now and then, like get your nails done and eat some good chocolates.  I mean are you participating in a lifestyle that will maintain your mental well-being, keeping you happy and healthy long-term.  That’s what good self-care will do for you!

What is self-care?  A lot of us are confused about self-care.  It’s not simply doing things that make you feel good in the moment.  It’s about making choices that promote your well-being for life.  For instance, a healthy self-care program includes making responsible choices regarding your fitness, nutrition, habits, and environment.  People who are engaged in healthy self-care practices don’t abuse substances, they balance their lifestyle, and they reach out for help when they recognize signs that their program isn’t working.  Here are some aspects of self-care that are basic, but they are often overlooked:

Sufficient sleep.  Getting enough sleep is an important component in maintaining mental and physical health.  According to some studies, insufficient sleep lowers your body’s immunity, leaves you vulnerable to heart disease, increases your risk of stroke, your risk for diabetes, and your risk for cancer.  Too little sleep can make you forgetful, think less clearly, you can gain weight, you can look older, and your libido can drop.  As the National Sleep Foundation explains, the average adult needs between seven and nine hours of sleep every night.  Try engaging in a bedtime routine to set yourself up for a good night of sleep.  It’ll help put your mind and body in the habit of preparing to rest.

Relax.  Relaxation is a key to good health, and many of us neglect nurturing ourselves in this area.  If you’re running on stress and caffeine, it’s time to rethink your lifestyle.  Stress can zap your energy and cause a number of health issues, such as adrenal fatigue, nausea, headaches, migraines, heart problems, muscle tension and overeating.  You can make better choices and make changes in your environment to help you relax.  Here are some suggestions from Redfin to turn your home into a haven for stress-free living:

  • Reduce clutter; clutter is shown to lower your ability to concentrate and think through information.
  • Introduce nature into your home, either through artwork on your walls or with houseplants on your shelves.
  • Enjoy essential oils in mood-boosting scents like lavender and lemon.
  • Open your curtains to allow in more natural light; it’s a great mood enhancer.
  • Create a quiet, comfortable place in your home for solitude.
  • Participate in meditation or deep breathing exercises.

Say “no” to busyness.  Staying overly busy is a cultural failing.  Americans embrace the idea that by being “too busy” we are important – that we are rare commodities and of more value than if we are not “busy.”  It’s time to rethink that mindset!  As Psychology Today points out, being too busy damages our health and well-being, even if we feel like it’s a sign we’re climbing higher in life.  The reality is that by over-committing, you may be losing out on savoring things in your life that really matter.  Instead of obligating yourself to too many things and committing your day from one end to the other, say “no” sometimes.  This is imperative if your schedule is getting in the way of aspects of self-care.  Some experts recommend reorganizing your schedule, making boundaries, and prioritizing your days.  If you aren’t sure what you can cut, make a list of your commitments, prioritize them, and select some to step back from.

Take care of yourself.  Engage in a program that will keep you feeling good.  Get enough sleep, spend time relaxing, and say “no” to too many obligations.  If your self-care is lacking in any of these areas, make a point to revamp your priorities.  With a lifestyle that promotes wellness, you can be happy and healthy long-term.