Your Health Tamar Raucher | one year ago

10 Self Care Habits to Practice Now

Kick your excuses to the curb! These simple changes make better health a no-brainer.

We got the scoop from Ryan Shelton, MD at Carolinas HealthCare System, about the everyday self-care habits that can transform your health.

1. Drink More Water

We hear it all the time, but most of us still forget to stay hydrated throughout the day. “Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water,” says Dr. Shelton. “Start with a big glass in the morning so you can’t avoid it. Not only does water help your skin, but it boosts your metabolism and benefits every part of your body.” If you don’t like the taste of water, consider squeezing fresh lemon into it or infusing it with berries, melon or cucumber.

2. Eat Mindfully

In today’s overworked and under-rested world, eating mindfully is a tip that can bring us balance. When you slow down and pay attention to your food, you’re better able to hear the cues your body gives you. It will tell you when you’re full, how you actually feel about the food you’re putting into it and also aids digestion – you’re more likely to take the time to properly chew your food, which puts less strain on your stomach.

3. Give Thanks

It’s easy to lose sight of the good things in life, but spending a few minutes each day to remember all the things we’re thankful for can transform our mental health. “Focus on the good in your life,” says Dr. Shelton. “Before you go to sleep, disconnect from the tech stuff and think about what you’re grateful for. Say it out loud or write it down. Staying positive is less stressful overall and keeps your heart healthy, too.”

4. Get Enough Sleep

This is a big one. We’re finally realizing just how important sleep is for health – and unfortunately, most of us don’t get enough. “We take sleep for granted: it gets short-changed, which leads to increased stress and decreased focus,” says Dr. Shelton. “Aim for at least seven hours and make it a habit.” As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Give your body time to get used to getting adequate sleep and make sure you go to bed at a similar time most (ideally all) nights. Getting up early helps too – it will reset your circadian rhythm and ensure that you’ll be ready for bed as the light fades each day.

5. Head Outside

“Nature is so healing,” says Dr. Shelton. “It has the ability to wash away a stressful week and balance your mood.” Dr. Shelton adds that “you’ll be better at work and at home if you’re balanced.” He recommends taking a Friday off and driving to the beach or the mountains, but you can also reap the restorative benefits from sitting in a park or strolling your neighborhood.

6. Connect to Those You Care About

Friends, family, coworkers, even pets – taking the time to connect on a personal level goes a long way toward boosting your health and happiness. “Companionship is very important,” says Dr. Shelton. “Keep up your relationships with friends and family. It’s easy to get into coexisting mode, but if you don’t take time to disconnect from the world and connect with each other, your relationships will suffer.” Pets are a big part of this as well. “It’s about caring for something other than yourself,” says Dr. Shelton. “It’s been proven that pets help lower blood pressure. It’s also great to come home to someone that always lives in the moment, because they teach us to live that way too.”

7. Unleash Your Creativity

It doesn’t matter that you’re not a budding Picasso; just do something that exercises the right side of your brain. This can mean having an “art day” with family and friends, taking up a class like pottery, doing a little creative writing or even going off the recipe book for an evening and inventing something all your own. When we create, we automatically build our sense of self – fueling our passion and purpose in the world.

8. Take Time to Unwind

Dr. Shelton has couch time with his family and dogs in the evening, but this looks different to different people. Maybe you like to light candles and take a bath, or meditate for a few minutes every day. Whatever you do, try and clear your mind, focusing all your energy on the moment. Not only will you get more out of your unwind time, but you’ll be more patient and relaxed in other areas of your life, too. “This is a really simple one, and it doesn’t require a trip to the gym,” says Dr. Shelton. “Mindful breathing is important for de-stressing as well.”

9. Exercise Regularly

“Commit to regular exercise first thing in the morning,” says Dr. Shelton. “I go to a boot camp class at my gym. It keeps me accountable.” Not only will your mental focus be better throughout the day, but every level of your life will be improved – from your sleep habits to your metabolism. Starting a new routine “will be tough for the first couple weeks,” says Dr. Shelton, “but after a while your body will crave it and it will almost be a necessity.”

10. Top Your Own List

Dr. Shelton places a lot of emphasis on this for his own patients, especially those who are parents. “Putting you on your list is incredibly important,” he says. “Even for those young moms and dads, you have to put yourself near the top of your own list. You might feel guilty, but ultimately you’ll be better parents. Taking time to nurture yourself makes you more available in other ways.”