Physical and Emotional Self-Care
for Improved Overall Well-Being
Habits of self-care are crucial to overall well-being–associated actions, behaviors and thoughts help to avoid serious illnesses and to improve physical and emotional health by providing our bodies and minds with peace and balance in an increasingly over-stimulating world.
Depending on specific personal and professional commitments and priorities, no two strategies for execution of self-care will look exactly the same. However, all people share the need for physical and emotional well-being, and many find that one cannot be achieved without the other.
For example, physical self-care ensures the health, energy and focus necessary to cultivate meaningful relationships, perform sufficiently at work and engage in personal reflection — all practices that strengthen one emotionally. And, consequently, emotional self-care produces the confidence, self-worth and motivation necessary to exercise regularly and eat well, which enhance physical growth. When physical and emotional self-care habits are formed together, the associated positive and productive actions, behaviors and thoughts intertwine and gain momentum, like a snowball rolling down a hill, enabling one to reach new levels of overall well-being.
Practice physical and emotional self-care habits together
Practicing both forms of self-care together means that the two require equal attention. Don’t go physically wild by spending hours at the gym at the expense of other necessary or enjoyable portions of your day. You will burn out quickly and your mind will suffer. At the same time, don’t neglect physical and nutritional effort in favor of emotional stimulation. Such activities will become unamusing without the stamina for full participation. Rather, consider physical and emotional self-care to be one in the same, begin both at square one and progress naturally.
Increase the level of physical activity in your everyday life and accomplish more in your limited time by walking to class, work or the store. If prohibited by time or distance, park farther away from your destination or exit the bus a stop early and always take the stairs. Journal each adjustment: When reviewing entries at the end of each day, you will be surprised at how much opportunity for exercise was already woven into your existing routine, which will embolden you to hunt for more.
Forget the old notion that achieving physical fitness means running on a treadmill or lifting weights in a gym all the time. Pursue holistic health by choosing activities that not only exercise your body, but also engage your mind and spirit, such as dancing or gardening. Examine your personal interests and incorporate options that appeal to you. Perhaps you will acquire a new hobby or skill along the way.
Also abandon the idea that to eat healthily is to either starve or confine yourself to unappetizing food. Continue to enjoy delicious meals, while expanding your creativity, by exploring strategies for creating more nutritious varieties of your favorite recipes. For example, trim fat from meats and reduce the amount of butter, sugar or salt previously used. Swap whole-milk products for low-fat dairy options. Incorporate a few cups of broccoli, carrots or spinach into casseroles or pastas.
To remain accountable to new habits and cultivate stronger relationships, invite friends and family to join you on your quest for physical and emotional well-being. Swap recipes, host weekly potlucks, form a weekend kickball team. Encourage, challenge and celebrate one another. The addition of community will transform your health journey.
Prevent illness and heal your body
Adopting habits of physical and emotional self-care may protect you from serious health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension or depression. Additionally, these habits also encourage healing of bodily systems suffering from previous damage. For those recovering from addiction, routine self-care is crucial for maintaining sobriety and restoring health. Exercise, for example, relieves stress induced by feelings of withdrawal, releases endorphins for a mood-boosting natural high and strengthens the mind-body connection.
Physical and emotional self-care heals the body, helps to prevent serious illness and strengthens overall well-being for a happier, healthier life.
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