Prioritizing Self-Care: 5 Essential Practices to Improve Your Well-being
Contrary to what many people think, self-care should not be considered a luxury but a priority. If you can't take care of yourself, no one else will, and before you know it, you'll be overwhelmed by the obligations and demands of others while your physical and mental well-being deteriorates. In the long run, this can not only take a toll on your emotional well-being but also impact your performance, how you face life, and your interpersonal relationships. And then, when you have no choice but to start taking care of yourself for the sake of survival, the damage may have run deep and be much harder to repair.
Why Should You Prioritize Self-Care?
These days, most people are aware of the importance of self-care but repeatedly postpone actions that can improve their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. However, prioritizing self-care and adopting habits that make you the protagonist of your own life will not only help you feel better physically and psychologically but also enhance your self-esteem and self-worth. It will also improve your self-image and make you respect yourself more.
Furthermore, it is an excellent exercise to foster intrinsic motivation, which comes from within you regardless of external stimuli, as well as your willpower and ability to commit to your goals. Of course, it will also help you respect your own rhythms, identify your main strengths and weaknesses, gain emotional self-control, and take your skills to the next level. This is because, as you implement self-care, you will get to know yourself better, recognize your needs, and set new goals for personal growth.
When you focus on self-care and make it a priority, you learn to create psychological distance from life events, allowing you to solve problems more easily, make better decisions, and prevent many of the psychological risk factors that lead to stress, anxiety, or depression. This does not mean you are invulnerable to problems or psychological disturbances, but rather that you will be better prepared to handle them assertively and have better resources to cope with them.
5 Practical Self-Care Tips to Improve Your Well-being
Taking care of yourself is not about taking a break when you're extremely tired, doing something relaxing when you feel down, or dedicating the spare minutes you have. Practicing self-care involves respecting your body and mind, committing to your well-being and emotional balance, not as a self-imposed obligation but as an act of self-love. It means taking control of your life, identifying your primary needs, and implementing new habits that help you feel better physically and mentally. Don't know where to start? Here are some basic self-care tips that can help improve your well-being.
1. Mind Your Nutrient Intake:
Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet not only provides you with more energy for your daily activities but also helps regulate your body weight and prevents numerous diseases like diabetes or cardiovascular disorders. However, did you know that what you eat also influences your mood? Just like other organs, the brain also needs nutrients from food to perform its functions. Some nutrients stimulate the secretion of certain neurotransmitters and facilitate synaptic transmission between neurons, while others block them.
For example, consuming foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like sardines or walnuts, as well as those containing antioxidants like berries or B-group vitamins like eggs, can stimulate the mind and improve brain function. In many cases, maintaining a healthy diet can help reduce the symptoms of some psychological disorders, as revealed in a recent study conducted at Ohio State University, which found that moderate consumption of fruits and vegetables can attenuate signs of hyperactivity and impulsivity in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Additionally, it is known that avoiding foods rich in refined sugars, artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated fats, or alcohol can help combat psychological disorders like anxiety or depression.
2. Stay Physically and Mentally Active:
Another fundamental self-care tip is to lead an active life, both physically and mentally. Engaging in physical activity, especially outdoors, is good for your cardiovascular and respiratory systems, muscle and bone health, mobility, coordination, and balance. However, it also has a significant impact on your mental health. Staying physically active helps you relax, release tension, and combat stress while generating a pleasant sense of well-being by stimulating the release of endorphins. In fact, it is a good remedy for preventing anxiety, as psychologists at the University of Vermont have shown.
At the same time, it is important to keep your mind active. This helps prevent cognitive decline and aging of brain functions, contributing to delaying or avoiding problems like lack of concentration or diseases such as Alzheimer's. How can you exercise your brain? Simple actions like reading a book, listening to music, or writing can activate your mind. If you want to go a step further, try puzzles, word or number games, logic and analytical games, or simply learn new things.
3. Learn to Manage Your Emotions:
When you don't control your emotions, they control you. Therefore, another important self-care tip is to work on your emotional intelligence, a concept popularized by American psychologist Daniel Goleman, referring to the ability to recognize your own emotions and manage them assertively. This skill will not only help you better handle anger and frustration, address the underlying causes of sadness or lack of motivation, and develop empathy, but also combat stress or anxiety and improve your sense of well-being.
For this, it is crucial to work on self-awareness and learn to recognize the emotions you experience by taking small breaks throughout the day to analyze what you are feeling. Once you know how to recognize your emotions, it's time to manage them. Need advice to achieve this? Turn to relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, or visualization to calm your emotions and regain control over them. It's also a good way to control stress and anxiety. Want to go a step further? You can learn to create emotional distance from events and change your interpretation of them through cognitive restructuring, a powerful technique that helps you replace negative thoughts with more positive ones to improve your mood.
4. Surround Yourself with Value-Adding People:
Do you never have time to meet up with friends? Do you barely spend time with your family because you work all day? Keep in mind that another essential aspect of self-care is fostering interpersonal relationships. Surrounding yourself with people who add value to your life not only allows you to have the support you need in difficult times but also helps you combat loneliness, boost your self-esteem, reduce the impact of stress, and, most importantly, improve your sense of well-being, as physical contact stimulates serotonin and oxytocin levels. This also gives you the opportunity to share new experiences and improve your social skills.
So, the next time you're tempted to decline a friend's invitation, think twice. Also, plan activities with your family
and close friends, preferably in contact with nature. And why not? Dare to talk to strangers in your surroundings or meet new people. Meeting new people not only expands your circle of friends but can also be a great incentive to discover new ways of thinking and seeing life, as well as different interests from your own.
5. Find Time to Relax and Rest:
Another self-care habit you should implement as soon as possible is to dedicate a moment each day to rest and relaxation. Resting is not only important but necessary as it helps you maintain the energy for your daily activities. Getting at least 8 hours of sleep per day helps you replenish your energy, regenerate your body's cells, and helps eliminate toxins that accumulate in your brain, responsible for conditions such as Alzheimer's or vascular problems. Additionally, it helps you stay more focused, make better decisions, and have a more proactive mind.
However, when it comes to self-care, it is also important to set aside time for relaxation. You don't need much; a study conducted by psychologists at Stanford University found that practicing mindful breathing for just 5 minutes a day is enough to combat stress and anxiety. You can also practice meditation, engage in relaxation exercises, or simply listen to music or engage in activities that help you relax, such as taking a walk in nature or dancing.
Finally, don't forget that taking care of yourself does not make you a selfish person. Prioritizing your needs over others' and putting yourself first is an act of self-love that not only allows you to take better care of yourself but also of those around you. After all, if you can't take care of yourself, you'll have a hard time helping those around you."
You can count on an online psychologist at Therapyside to continue delving into your emotions, prioritize yourself, and take care of your psychological well-being. If this article has helped you better understand this topic, we hope you feel more empowered to live a life without limitations!