Over the past few years, self-care has become more of a topic of conversation. Self-care should be an important part of everyone’s daily life because it can help you remain physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy. However, people often misunderstand or lack insight into what self-care really entails. Maintaining a healthy self-care routine requires more than a weekly face mask and a night of relaxation—it requires you to make changes that will benefit your overall mental health and personal wellbeing. Whether you add these practices to your daily schedule or pick them up once a month, make it a priority to add them to your routine in one way or another.
First and foremost, you need to take care of your physical health if you want your body to run and age efficiently. There is a strong connection between the mind, body, and soul—once you get your physical health under control, the rest will follow more seamlessly.
Start by maintaining a healthy relationship with your health care providers. It can be easy to put-off appointments when life gets busy, but scheduling regular checkups with physicians and optometrists can help you achieve a physical advantage. These appointments can help you manage or renew your medication or glasses prescription and you will be made aware of any concerning physical changes to your body or vision early-on, which makes it easier for doctors to diagnose and treat you.
Today, with COVID-19 still affecting many lives, it can be more difficult to schedule appointments to speak with providers or get into the office. However, it doesn’t have to be—there are telemedicine and telehealth services available that can help you keep your appointments without having to physically go into the office. Telemedicine services such as online clinics like Virtuwell can connect you with a certified nurse practitioner right away, who can recommend the customized care you need and prescribe medication to be sent to your local pharmacy. This online service can help you with anything from common colds and the flu, to chronic conditions and preventative care. Lastly, each visit is consistently $59 or less with insurance, which is comparable to many traditional healthcare practices. There are also telehealth services, like this Prescription Check app from Warby Parker, which allows you to speak to an eye doctor and assess your current glasses or contact prescription. This service makes it easy to renew your prescription if needed and order contacts or glasses directly through the site to make for a one-stop-shop eyecare experience, all from the comfort of home. Services like these can connect you to doctors in between comprehensive appointments, so you can stay on top of your health and vision needs without risking exposure while traveling to your doctors offices.
Three main factors that contribute to poor mental health include social isolation or loneliness, overuse of social media, and lack of sleep. Especially during the pandemic, it’s likely all three of these factors have affected your mental health at one point. Social distancing may make you feel more isolated or lonely, causing you to rely more heavily on social media, which can affect sleep patterns over time.
Although social media can help you feel more connected during this time, it can also make you feel inadequate about your life and cause depression and anxiety if you rely on it too often. During this time you should try to find things that interest you on a deeper level like reading, drawing, or exercising. Focusing on something that really sparks your interest will help you gain perspective and a more positive attitude despite pandemic challenges.
This isn’t to say you have to eliminate social media from your life altogether, as it does act as a creative outlet, offers comedic relief, and creates inspiration for many. You should, however, limit your social media use each day and directly before bed.
While using social media throughout the day can cause you to feel isolated, lonely, and negative, using it before bed can also disrupt your circadian rhythm, which controls your sleep-wake cycle. First, the anxiety that social media can often cause can make you feel stressed and therefore unable to sleep. Secondly, the stimulating effects of digital blue light from electronics like smartphones and tablets can strain your retinas and shock your eyes and mind, making you feel alert rather than tired. If your sleep schedule is constantly disrupted it can lead to irritability, stress, and a weakened immune, all of which contribute to poor mental health.
It’s important to be able to recognize your different emotions, such as anxiety, stress, anger, sadness, or depression, and have healthy coping skills to deal with them. Although it may be difficult and require discipline, you should engage in activities that help you recognize, manage, and express your emotions.
When assessing your emotional self-care strategies consider speaking to a supportive friend or family member. Talking about your feelings out loud can help you better understand and process them. If you would rather, you could also consider speaking with a therapist if you don’t feel comfortable talking to the people close to you at first. Speaking with a therapist is a great alternative as they can offer an outside professional perspective in a nonjudgmental space removed from your personal life.
Lastly, meditation is a simple way to become more attuned with your emotions. Apps like Ten Percent Happier Meditation guide you through the process to help you achieve your emotional goals. Meditation can help you train your mind in different ways by focusing on a specific object, thought, or activity, which can help you achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state of mind, benefiting you now and in the future.
Self-care is about more than bettering your appearance, it’s about bettering yourself overall. Adding these steps into your routine will help you achieve better physical, mental, and emotional health over time.