We all love the idea of self-care in our life, and in some cases, it may take different forms. For the person who constantly has to juggle different responsibilities in the workplace, it may be a matter of just unplugging for the world for a few hours or two. For the dedicated homemaker, it may be a matter of finding an activity or task that allows them to relax, something “just for them.” For people struggling with mental health issues, it may be finding that one activity that gives them peace of mind for a time. What’s important when talking about self-care is that while you can use it to indulge, you should also be trying to use it to refresh yourself as well, which means taking a little time for your body along with your mind.
Stress and The Body
Part of the reason that your self-care and body are so intertwined is that a lot of the time, stress can have a negative impact on your health. There are some common examples that we may have all felt once or twice, like getting a headache or having difficulty sleeping, but in some cases, it can go well beyond that. In fact, it may even surprise you what stress can do.
A Surprising Way Stress Shows up
According to Dr. Sam Carroll, DMD, of Yuma Smiles in Yuma, AZ, “dealing with stress in your life can impact your oral health in some ways:
- Poor oral hygiene—It’s easy to skip brushing and flossing when you are stressed and feel like you have too much to do. You might also find yourself too busy to see your dentist regularly.
- Gum disease—Stress can have a negative impact on your immune system, making you more susceptible to infections such as gum disease.
- Poor diet—When you are busy, grabbing unhealthy fast food might become a habit. Too much fast food might mean you are not getting the nutrients you need for optimal health.
- Teeth grinding—If you are under a lot of stress, you might be grinding your teeth at night and waking up with a headache or a sore jaw.
- Mouth sores—One of the primary causes of mouth sores, including canker sores and cold cores, is stress.”
In many ways, things like this are only the tip of the iceberg. Chronic stress can lead to long-term issues with the heart and blood vessels, so when you invest in self-care, you may already be doing a big favor to your body. But is there a way to link body care and self-care directly?
So What Do I Do?
Perhaps the best example of health and self-care coming together comes in the form of exercise. Note that you don’t have to get an intense workout in order to feel these effects, just enough to get moving. Studies have shown that even a basic degree of working out has been proven to have a positive impact on mental health. As of right now, it hasn’t been proven what exactly the connection is, but there’s enough evidence suggesting that it’s a good idea to begin.
Self-care and exercise
If you’re looking to take more of a self-care look at your exercise, there are a few good things you can do. For one, Matt Delaney, CSCS, a coach at Equinox, recommends working on your deep breathing. “In session, I connect to my breath. I try to practice 4-7-8 breathing [breathe in for four seconds, hold your breath for seven, then exhale for eight] a couple of times every hour to help me reduce stress and regulate my parasympathetic nervous system,” he explains. Another good practice is to try and use your workout to try and practice some positive self-affirmation or unplug from your phone or computer. Make sure that you are exercising safely as well by keeping hydrated and stretching.
To be clear, there’s no guideline on what is the best practice for self-care. That’s something that you’re going to want to establish with yourself or perhaps your mental health professional if you are seeing one. However, there can be a tipping point, sometimes. Some people start by treating themselves and accidentally end up creating a bad habit out of something coming from a place of positivity. Balance this out by introducing good habits and you’ll be able to have your cake and eat it too, literally, in some cases.