Be good to yourself. Simple in theory, not easy in practice. We sometimes think that means overindulging, or throwing caution to the wind and abandoning our good sense practices. There is a difference between caring for yourself and giving in to unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Most people think of the physical first, so remember the basics. We are all individuals and you must find what is optimal for you; nevertheless, here are some general guidelines:
* Breathe! To help regulate the temperature of the air and eliminate many irritants, breathe through your nose. Be mindful of your posture (don’t slouch). Use your diaphragm (belly breathing): when it moves downward, your lungs have more room to expand – watch out for short, shallow breaths (chest), which do not oxygenate your body as well.
* Get quality sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 – 9 hours for adults; reduce noise and lighting prior to bedtime, make sure your area is relaxed and peaceful, keep it on the cooler side, and choose soothing scents.
* Hydrate. There are many contributing factors as to what is adequate: how much you weigh, how active you are (sweat), what you eat and drink (soda doesn’t count, high-water content foods do); start with awareness about your own intake and adjust accordingly.
* Eat more vegetables. Doing this can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, and of digestive problem; it can lower blood pressure, prevent some types of cancer, and help regulate blood sugar levels (bonus – this can also help keep your appetite in check). Green leafy veggies especially pack a powerful nutritional punch.
* Move your body. Walk. Better yet, dance…have fun!!
Of course that’s not where it ends, self-care is critical for mental, emotional, social, and spiritual health as well:
* Walk barefoot in the grass
* Hold a pet
* Get a massage
* Cuddle under a soft blanket
* Laugh along with funny videos
* Keep a journal
* Sign up for a class or join a new group that interests you
* Write a letter to a friend you miss
* Remove yourself from negative people and situations
* Practice meditation
* Play music, paint a picture
* Consider all the things you’re grateful for
When you’re good to yourself, you send a positive message to your subconscious that boosts your self-esteem. Evidence shows that most self-care activities affect your parasympathetic nervous system – putting your body into a restful, rejuvenating state – which helps your immune system. So slow down; get off the hamster wheel, reflect on the day, ask “lofty” questions (“How and why am I such a powerful learner?”), and ask yourself if you were the best person you could be today.
Being good to yourself does not make you selfish, it actually gives you more of the resources you need to be kind and compassionate to others, too!