They say a habit takes 21 days to make and only 3 days to break. We believe that healthy habits can help to create an overall lifestyle that can aid in a long and happy life. We aren't talking about momentous tasks, but simple things you can do to be the healthiest version of yourself. Each month, we will offer a different healthy habit for you to challenge yourself to stick with.
October's Healthy Habit: Treat Yo' Self!
When we say 'treat yo' self!', we don't mean- go spend all of your money on things you don't need or eat all of your kids trick-or-treat candy after they go to bed. We mean, practice self-care and self-love. As we get older and life happens- whether it's a spouse, kids, your job, pets, etc., other things start to take priority over yourself. When we give so much of ourselves without doing anything to recharge, it can have an adverse effect on our health.
Some have used the adage "You're on an airplane and pressure changes dramatically in the cabin. What do you do? The very first rule, every time, is to secure your own mask before you assist someone else." Why is that? Because it's imperative we care for ourselves before effectively being able to care for others. It's that simple- you can only care for other people as much as you care about yourself.
When you don't take care of yourself, the mental stress can manifest itself in multiple physical ways, such as:
- Low energy
- Upset stomach- including diarrhea, constipation and nausea
- Aches, pains and tense muscles
Taking time for yourself and putting yourself first can be hard. While it may be a challenge, it is necessary and something you should make sure to make time for. The National Alliance on Mental Illness shares tips on how to take effective care of yourself:
- Exercise daily. Exercise can take many forms, such as taking the stairs whenever possible, walking up escalators, and running and biking rather than driving. Joining a class may help you commit to a schedule, if that works best for you. Daily exercise naturally produces stress-relieving hormones in your body and improves your overall health.
- Eat well. Eating mainly unprocessed foods like whole grains, vegetables and fresh fruit is key to a healthy body. Eating this way can help lower your risk for chronic diseases, and help stabilize your energy levels and mood.
- Get enough sleep. Adults generally need between seven and nine hours of sleep. A brief nap—up to 30 minutes—can help you feel alert again during the day. Even 15 minutes of daytime sleep is helpful. To make your nighttime sleep count more, practice good “sleep hygiene,” like avoiding using computers, TV and smartphones before bed.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs. They don’t actually reduce stress and often worsen it.
- Practice relaxation exercises. Deep breathing, meditation and progressive muscle relaxation are easy, quick ways to reduce stress. When conflicts come up between you and your family member, these tools can help you feel less controlled by turbulent feelings and give you the space you need to think clearly about what to do next.
You can also treat yourself in other ways. Go get a manicure/pedicure (men can do this too!), go get a massage, make time to go on a date with your spouse, go to a movie, take an art class- whatever it is, take a moment to escape from "reality" and take time for yourself. You'll be better for it!