To make sure your health is where it needs to be, it’s always a good idea to see your family physician at least once a year for a thorough examination. However, in-between the time that you don’t see your physician, there are also things that you, yourself, need to do to keep up good health. This is called self-care. Self-care isn’t just important for your physical health. It’s also important for the mind and soul, too. For some, lack of self-care comes from feeling as though they don’t have enough time. For others, they might feel selfish; especially if they have a family of young children to take care of…but when you don’t set aside some time to take care of yourself mentally and physically, your own health not only declines, but the relationships with the people around you can also take a nosedive. Below are just a few suggestions from Dr. Ali Ghahary to help you along on your self-care journey.
SET BOUNDARIES: This is crucial, especially if you’re always running around doing things for other people. While work and school projects are important, overextending yourself can also happen in your personal life too. For example, you might do a favour for a friend, followed by another favour, then another favour. Sometimes those favours may start to feel like expectations, or friends will not no problem asking for future favours from you in the future without taking into consideration the time and effort the other person has to put into it. Sometimes you may even find yourself feeling obligated to do things for other people just because. No one’s saying not to be nice, but you also need to have the ability to say “no” and set boundaries with others when necessary. Lack of boundaries can lead to things like stress and exhaustion, and when that occurs the unhealthy relationships begin to develop.
UNPLUG: Part of setting boundaries also means begin able to unplug from the world for a bit. This means taking time away from social media, turning off your smartphone, computer and/or tablet, and completely un-connecting. One of the biggest mistakes people make in terms of technology is continuing to check e-mails and do work even while on vacation. While some jobs require you to be on-call and available, not all do. Similar to setting boundaries, it may also feel like an obligation, while it can also simply be a matter of being addicted to technology – a very real problem that not only affects today’s generation, but anyone who is used to being attached to any kind of electronic device. Prolonged use of these electronic devices can lead to eye strain and fatigue, as well as stress. By unplugging from the electronic world, you can spend more time in the real world. If you’re not keen on the idea of unplugging completely, try to limit yourself to so much electronic use per day. For example, check your e-mails and social media when you wake up in the morning. You should avoid using electronic devices before bad as this can disrupt your ability to get a proper sleep.
HAVE FUN: As mentioned, self-care isn’t just about the physical aspect of your health. It’s about the psychological aspect, too. Finding something you enjoy is a great way to take care of yourself. Whether it’s reading a book, going to a movie, listening to music, gardening, going for a walk and exploring nature, or learning something new. Doing any single one (or all) of these things can be fun, and when you’re having fun the mind is also happier and healthier.
CREATE: If you’re an artistic type (or even if you’re not), another great self-care activity is to sign up for some type of painting or drawing class. If you’re a musician or have interest in music, sign up for some kind of music class. Alternatively, you can also write in a journal. Creativity is a great, positive way to release negative energy, as well as a great, fun and unique way to do something just for yourself.
RELAX: It’s important to understand that you don’t always have to be doing something. For people who are constantly on the go, this can be a difficult concept to grasp, but it’s an important one. If you overexert yourself, you’re more likely to feel fatigued, stressed, and even less motivated to do things in the future. So make sure you take time to relax and realize it’s okay to do nothing sometimes. Relaxation comes in many different forms, too. You can take a nap, watch a movie from the comfort of your own couch, meditate (which is also great for the mind), or go to a spa for a massage.
OBSERVE: Something that often happens to those who don’t take the proper amount of time to take care of themselves is that they really don’t know that that’s what they’re doing to begin with, and it’s important to recognize the signs. If you’re feeling sad, stressed, depressed, angry, or overwhelmed, these may all be signs that you’re doing too much – either for yourself or for others – and need to slow down.