It's the Physical Self Care for Me!
Over the last couple of years, I have purposefully looked for ways to practice better physical self-care. Why is this important? Everyday life is marked by small stressors that build up over time. And this doesn’t include major stressors that come along such as a severe or chronic illness. Even activities that aren’t negative can cause stress – think a wedding, the birth of a child or moving. Regular self-care is key to better health and affects our ability to care for others.
Make sleep a priority; sounds simple, right? For years, I ran on little sleep that did not improve my quality of health. Eventually, not enough sleep and the lack of quality sleep took its toll. When you sleep, the body has the opportunity to relax, repair, reduce inflammation and flush the brain of toxins. Less than 7 hours of quality sleep is attributed to an increase in inflammation in your body, increases insulin resistance and tends to make you crave sugar while negatively affecting your emotional well-being. Whew! If you’re not getting at least 7 hours (preferably 8 hours) of quality sleep, rethink your routine. Suggestions include:
- wearing blue light blocker glasses after dark
- limiting the amount of television, you are exposed to as it tends to stimulate
- avoiding overhead lights after dark and,
- sticking to a consistent sleep schedule, even on the weekends. Your body will thank you for it!
Having access to a sauna or steam room does wonders for you physically. The heat from a sauna eliminates toxins from the body and decreases inflammation. A steam room can open your pores, and if you’re like me, open congested nasal pathways. Recently, I even heard of a sauna blanket that you can use at home that provides the same benefits of going to the sauna!
Cryotherapy locations have popped up in so many areas recently. Cryotherapy is touted to help you improve sleep, improve circulation and reduce inflammation among other physical benefits. Visiting a cryotherapy location was an awesome experience! If you’ve not tried it, the staff provides safety gear so that you avoid frostbite while in the freezer chamber for 3 minutes. I loved that I was allowed to pick my song of choice (another great self-care tool!) while being treated. You’ll leave feeling very invigorated!
Getting a massage is one of my favorite forms of self-care. Massages can be a great way to de-stress and practice active relaxation. Swedish massage is a lighter form while deep tissue massage really works out the physical knots that you may have. And if you have arthritis as I do, massage is a wonderful way to manage it or autoimmune issues that you might have.
Finding the right type of exercise for you works wonders! For years, I would do these workouts that really pushed me physically but would leave me exhausted. This form of movement might be the best for you, but I have learned that more gentle exercise works well for me – walking, yoga, basic strength training – and helped me release over 100 pounds. Your body views exercise as an additional stressor so ensuring that your body can adequately recover is a form of self-care.
When I decided to start yoga, it was a way to increase my flexibility. Yoga can also calm your nervous system and improve your resistance to stress! And there are so many ways to incorporate yoga or stretching workouts into your daily routine. If you have physical limitations, as I do at times, chair yoga is a possibility. Yoga is such a great self-care choice for everyone!
Red Light Therapy
This is the newest self-care option that I have added, and I am so excited about its potential! The research shows that it can improve the health of the skin, reduce inflammation, increase collagen production, and even help with sleep quality.
The above listed methods are only suggestions and spark ideas that lead you to regularly incorporate physical self-care. Remember that burn out and stress are not alleviated with one relaxing session. Think of self-care as a way of supporting the best version of you.
Written by: Nicole Daniels