July 5th, 2022,
7 min read
July 24th is known as the International Self-Care Day. And even though the advantages of taking good care of yourself are life-long and do not just relate to a single day, it’s a great opportunity to raise further awareness of the benefits of effective self-management of health.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines self-care as “the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider”.
Self-care is a broad concept that is all about making healthy lifestyle choices (such as being physically active and eating healthily), self-monitoring (listening to, and interpreting the signals of your body and mind), and self-management (taking the right actions accordingly).
While some may misconstrue self-care as selfish, it's far from that. Self-care benefits you and everyone in your life. It encourages you to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself so that you can transmit good feelings and care to others. It sounds cliche but it’s true: you cannot give to others what you don't give to yourself.
Moreover, self-care helps to boost your overall health. It slows you down, activates your parasympathetic nervous system, and puts your body into ‘rest & restore’ mode. By taking good care of yourself, you give your body the chance to decompress from a generally hectic daily life.
More and more people are experiencing burn-out, depression, or simply a lot of stress. Taking good care of yourself is a must. And yes, secretly we all know… but actually doing it is often difficult.
Maybe we set the bar too high, but trust that every single action you take on your self-care journey - big or small - is one you will benefit from. Here are eight science-backed tips that will help you on your way.
Meditation increases your self-connection and body-awareness and allows you to make better choices for yourself. It has been shown to improve mental health, specifically in the area of stress. It also benefits people who deal with anxiety: a study shows that regularly practicing meditation over the course of three years resulted in long-term impacts on mental health.
Moreover, meditation improves your memory function, lowers your blood pressure, and improves your overall health and immunity. Even a 5-minute meditation will serve you. If you can find 20 minutes, even better.
If there’s one big cause that disrupts our inner peace and messes with our heads, it is social media. Spending too much time scrolling can increase feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. Yet most of us are glued to our screens more often than we would like to.
Research shows that being present on social media for extended amounts of time can actually cause physiological changes in the brain. It lowers our ability to maintain attention on any one selected topic. Moreover, it makes us addicted to our screens: the brain scans of heavy social media users look very similar to those addicted to drugs or gambling. So, try to say bye to your phone more often. It really helps.
Your breathing acts as the remote control of your autonomic nervous system. By changing the way you breathe, you change your state of mind. In just a few seconds!
Feeling stressed or anxious? Controlled, slow breathing triggers the relaxation response of your body, slowing down your heart rate, relaxing your muscles, calming your nerves, and soothing your thoughts. Just sit down, close your eyes and breathe slowly in and out from the belly for a while. You will soon notice a calmness coming over you.
P.S. Need help? We’re here to guide you, as moonbird is specifically designed to guide you in doing slow breathing exercises in order to find more inner peace.
Self-care is not all about yourself. Connecting with others is more important than you might think. Social connection can lower anxiety and depression, help regulate your emotions, lead to higher self-esteem and empathy, and actually improve your immune system. We all have the human need to connect, and by neglecting it, we put our health at risk.
The more you engage with the world outside as a means of taking care of yourself, the more you will come to appreciate the value of social self-care. If you’re going through stressful times, try performing acts of kindness on a daily basis. Kindness, for yourself and for others, is the key to living a healthy life with more inner peace.
Nature is such a beautiful thing. When we observe consciously, nature's beauty can take your breath away. But the beauty lies also in the fact it can instantly improve your well-being. Our relationship with nature – how much we notice, think about, and appreciate our natural surroundings – is a critical factor in supporting good mental health and preventing distress.
Research shows that people who are more connected with nature are usually happier in life and more likely to report feeling their lives are worthwhile. You can take a daily walk in the woods or by the water, but if that’s not available, a short walk in the park around your house also helps to lower your stress levels and curb your anxiety.
Laughing is a great medicine, as it works for basically anything. Studies have shown that laughing is linked to your physical, emotional and mental well-being, and even your relationships. Laughter boosts immunity, lowers stress hormones, decreases pain, relaxes your muscles, prevents heart disease, adds joy and zest to life, eases anxiety and tension, relieves stress, improves mood, strengthens resilience, strengthens relationships, promotes group bonding, and helps defuse conflict.
Isn’t it amazing that a simple smile can accomplish this all? Of course, life can be stressful, challenging, and take unexpected turns, yet the invitation is to keep finding the joy and beauty in it.
It’s not always easy to express how you feel, yet there are some serious upsides to productively expressing your emotions instead of internalizing them. Studies show that expressing your emotions staves off future stress, makes you less aggressive, boosts your pain tolerance and it can even lengthen your life.
How can you express yourself in a healthy way? For example by speaking up when you feel strongly about an issue, or telling your loved one how you really feel, even though you feel the fear of rejection or ridicule. But also by wearing the outfit love, or singing out loud to your favorite song, despite what others might think. Whatever you do, do it with respect to yourself and others, and you feel that expressing your emotions makes your sadness, anger or pain less intense and leads to healthier and happier relationships.
Mindfulness plays a big role in improving your overall mental health. According to research, the practice helps to prevent and manage stress, depression, and anxiety. Moreover, it improves your mood, increases positive emotions, and increases body satisfaction.
Mindfulness is often associated with meditation but you don’t have to necessarily close your eyes and sit still to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is all about a state of clear presence, or peace of mind. And this can of course be practiced all throughout your day.
How? By slowing down your pace, paying conscious attention to your thoughts and feelings, and developing a kind attitude towards yourself. Try to be as attentive as you can be and allow your mind to find harmony with the present moment. True peace always arises in the now.
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