By Katherine Tinsley
This week has been difficult to say the least. From being constantly attached to my cell phone and CNN, I can admit I am overwhelmed. I have been eating cookies and drinking pop while watching the news until three in the morning. I have not been taking care of myself and my well-being, and in times of hardship it can feel somewhat inappropriate or selfish to take some time to myself, but self-care and mental health matters. We cannot be our best selves without taking time to ourselves. These are my five tips for how to practice self-care.
Exercising provides a variety of health benefits. For years, I associated exercise with weight loss. I got a C- in gym so this has never been my strongest subject or interest. Now that I am older I realize that exercise is beneficial for everyone and while it can be used for weight loss, it has physical and mental health benefits. When you’re exercising, your body releases chemicals that can improve your mood. I know for myself I will not be going to a gym anytime soon so I have been using corpse technique, Chloe Ting and John Benton exercises so I can get a workout in while I am staying home.
2. Diet Changes
We have all heard the phrase “you are what you eat,” but how many of us have been told that food can have an impact on our anxiety? Refined sugar, caffeine, fried foods and alcohol can have an effect on your overall mood and can increase anxiety. Eating healthy isn’t the easiest thing, especially because french fries and Oreos are not considered to be health foods. However, just reducing the amount of processed foods, refined sugars and caffeine in your diet has the potential to reduce anxiety and stress and can create healthier habits.
Meditating for a few minutes a day can help with relaxation and with your personal relationship with your body and mind. Meditation can help lower stress levels, control anxiety, improve sleep and is something you can practice anywhere. Knowing how to meditate, or even just making it a part of your routine, can be difficult. I recommend downloading the Headspace app which offers short mediation courses that will guide you through your practice.
Sleep is so important, but when we are busy or stressed out, we can fall short on getting our full eight hours of sleep. Sleep is crucial for healthy brain function, maintaining physical health and can support growth and development. When you’re sleep deprived, the body enters a state of stress caused by an increase in blood pressure and the production of stress hormones. Being well-rested is an underappreciated form of self-care.
This might seem like a strange way to reduce stress, but when you laugh, your body releases endorphins. These endorphins improve your mood and decrease cortisol and adrenaline which are both stress causing. Put together a movie night at home or a Netflix party with friends watching funny movies and comedy specials that can help turn that frown upside down. Also continuing to talk to friends and sharing jokes and stories will result in laughter and social bonding.
These five tips can help reduce stress and help you to take the necessary time to take care of yourself and your well-being. Self-care is the best care and comes in many forms, from going on a hike to giggling with friends. These five tips have all been proven to reduce stress and anxiety and help with overall health.
Katherine Tinsley is an editorial intern who specializes in building the bridge between the industry and culture, self care, and fostering difficult conversations.