Integrative Nutrition Blog

Self-Care Isn't Selfish

November 11, 2017

Image via Shutterstock. 

Exhaustion, fatigue, burnout – three words that have become far too common in today’s world. It has become the norm to push ourselves to the breaking point, for so many of us to feel that if we don’t have a completely booked schedule, we are somehow failing. But as we continue to load our days with nonstop commitments, we are neglecting the most important factor that can cause the demise of all we’ve worked for – ourselves.

It is no wonder that fatigued individuals have reached a high and that the number of US adults being diagnosed with anxiety disorders each year has spiked to 40 million. And do you know who is impacted the most? Women. 

Many fear the act of self-care to be selfish, feeling it’s better to stretch ourselves thin in order to help others. But what happens when we have nothing left to give? That is when we can begin to see a negative shift in other aspects of our lives. If we aren’t coming from a place of calm and fulfillment, how can we truly show up for others?

Fortunately, there seems to be a turning point for this overworked society. According to the Pew Research Center, millennials are prioritizing self-care now more than ever before. Having a regular self-care practice has been scientifically proven to be beneficial to our health – an increase in productivity, self-compassion, and mindfulness.

If you are late to the self-care game, don’t fret! Here are five tips to help get you started on your self-care journey.

Meditate
The benefits of meditation are everywhere. Science has shown that spending at least five minutes a day practicing meditation can change your brain function, help reduce stress and anxiety, promote emotional health, kindness, and better sleep, and decrease blood pressure. It has also been a place that many people go to for answers, a place to surrender to the universe and have an inner voice be heard. With that said, beginning a meditation practice can be difficult. Luckily, there are a plethora of meditation apps at your fingertips. (My personal favorite is Headspace.)

Movement
Exercise – life’s natural stress reducer. Not only does exercise increase physical fitness, but it has also been proven to decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression and can increase confidence. But don’t just follow the latest fitness fad, it’s important to find a type of movement that resonates with you. This way, you can feel excited to get your sweat on rather than trying to come up with excuses to skip out. Kudos if you get your sweat fix outside!

Nature
Benefits of the outdoors don’t end with exercise. Research has shown that getting outside for just a few minutes each day can have amazing mental health benefits. Whether it’s texting, social media, or emails, our brains are in a constant state of stimulation. Getting outside allows us to slow down and reset as we take in the scenery and turn off the screen. It lets us restore our minds and increase mental clarity, even if just for a few minutes.

Healthy Diet
How many times have you heard the saying, “You are what you eat”? A statement that couldn’t ring truer. Think about it: If you are loading up on foods packed with sugar, you are much more likely to have blood sugar spikes followed by an unwelcomed crash. However, high fruit and vegetable consumption seems to be associated with reduced symptoms of depression. Also, getting creative in the kitchen and making those healthy meals taste delicious is a form of creativity and self-expression. Make way for a happier, healthier, and more balanced you!

Connection
As humans, we are hardwired to crave connection. Social isolation and loneliness have been linked to decreased immunity and increased mortality rates. On the other hand, strong social connections can lead to a decreased risk for disease and increased longevity. Yes, it’s important to make time for yourself, but make sure to incorporate time for friends and family, too. Next time you’re having a Netflix marathon or hitting the gym, call a friend. Activities together can increase your bond and make you feel less lonely in a time when social isolation is on the rise.  

A good self-care foundation is pivotal when taking steps to better yourself. If you aren’t coming from a place of contentment, you will be unable to fully show up for the people in your life, making self-care the most selfless act of all. 

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