This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of taking care of yourself.
I’ve understood this for quite some time and try to practice self-care as much as I need to, however, I’ve been very practically reminded of the significance this week.
I haven’t been taking care of myself as much as I should be and I’m reaping the consequences.
It’s a busy time, so there’s been plenty to do. But I’ve been pushing myself quite far and spreading myself so thin.
It takes a toll
I’ve been getting bad headaches and sore shoulders. I’ve been getting immensely hangry (note: one slice of toast and four coffees is NOT an appropriate daily intake). At the end of my days I’ll feel somewhere between exhausted and exhilarated with weird, stressful energy, and I’ll be rolling around, half-awake all night.
Do you recognise these symptoms?
You, with your life much more together than mine, might be reading this thinking, “How could you possibly forget to eat all day?”
That’s a fair question. I don’t know, is my answer.
But if you do relate to this, then you, too, may share this mysterious disease of not-looking-after-yourself-properly!
I’m sorry for this shocking news. Fortunately, there is a cure… sort of.
This is not medical advice, and make sure to consult your doctor if you are concerned about your health. However, there are things you can implement that can impact your day-to-day life.
Let’s talk about some strategies so simple that you’ll think “surely those tiny changes can’t really change my life.”
Trust me, my friend, I know it sounds crazy. So crazy that it just might work.
You’ve heard the saying, “woke up on the wrong side of the bed,” haven’t you?
Well, it is considered common knowledge in the science community that sleep deprivation affects your psychological and physiological states.
Physiological changes produced only in the deepest stage of quiet sleep boost immune system functioning. Studies have shown that REM sleep significantly enhances your capacity to learn and solidify information and contributes to emotional health.
There are countless reasons to prioritise a good night’s rest. So, let’s start with 6-8 hours every night, with 8 being best for most people.
A great, accessible article by Harvard Medical School gives a more in depth explanation on the effects of sleep (https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/sleep-and-mental-health).
Working out helps you physically and mentally; it improves cardiovascular health and releases endorphins into your body, which helps to reduce stress.
Move your body in someway for at least 30mins-1hr everyday!
A great read about exercise and mental health can be found at this link; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470658/.
3. Eating well
Whether that looks like remembering to eat (oops), eating more nutritious meals or eating less processed foods, what you fuel your body with can change your mental and emotional health.
Make it a priority to learn more about the food you’re putting into your body and notice the effects of a sharper mind and better feeling body!
Nutritional Psychiatry: Your Brain on Food https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626
4. Spend time outside
Spending time outdoors helps to reduce stress, fatigue and to help lower blood pressure. Being surrounded by fresh air and greenery can help you catch a breath.
Vitamin D from the sunlight effects almost every part of your body; it is known to help building strong bones, teeth and muscles, as well as effecting brain function and development.
Start with going for a brief walk everyday – to get some fresh air and sunlight. It will do you plenty of good! (https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/the-breakthrough-depression-solution/201111/psychological-consequences-vitamin-d-deficiency)
Give it a try
There are many more strategies you could implement into your self-care plan, but regardless of your methods, it is vital to be looking after yourself.
If you’ve been feeling low for no reason, have noticed yourself becoming frustrated more easily, or just not feeling like yourself – start here.
This is not medical advice. Contact your doctor if you have serious concerns.
Laura Murphy is an excitable and fast-paced Brit, living in Australia. She can’t sit still; she has a serious addiction to sudoku, and she can be won over by a good cup of tea and a laugh. Studying to become a doctor, she is expectant and excited to see all that God is going to do with her life.