The way some people talk about self-care, you may get the impression that it’s all about expensive indulgences. In reality, however, self-care is much more basic, and it’s something we all need. Good Therapy describes self-care in terms of how mental health professionals see it, which boils down to everyday activities like eating, sleeping, and dressing. Besides these physical needs, self-care also includes relaxing and caring for your emotional health. Both of these types of self-care are equally important — and both are essential for living well.
The great thing about exercise is that it does more than just keep you healthy physically. It’s also a major boost for your mental health, which is why being active is such an important priority. If you’re busy, try working more activity into your everyday life through simple choices like taking the stairs, working out during your lunch break, or getting in a few squats while watching TV. Whatever gets your heart rate up will also increase endorphins, those feel-good chemicals in the brain that help you manage symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Some people are more motivated to be active when they’re part of a fitness group, like Zumba or kickboxing. Sometimes just having a fitness buddy can keep a person engaged, because they’re exercising with someone. Yet others prefer the solitude of a long walk or bike ride. Regardless of how you prefer to exercise, the important part is to just keep moving.
While struggling with infertility, many patients are overwhelmed with how much is out of their control. Exercise not only helps you get more in touch with your body, it’s something you have control over.
Sleep is a basic need that has a cause-and-effect relationship with mental health. Anxious thoughts and symptoms of depression can keep you awake, and at the same time, research has shown that not getting enough sleep may also be a cause of depression. For some people, getting enough sleep is simply a matter of getting to bed earlier. For others, sleep may not come easily, especially if you’re dealing with infertility. There isn’t always a simple solution, but exercise, diet, and everything else you do to care for yourself can help you sleep better too.
When you think about self-care as an indulgence, it’s easy to fall into the trap of reaching for a chocolate bar or comfort food. It’s perfectly ok to eat these things on occasion, but true self-care means that, most of the time, the food you give your body should be full of nutrients.
It’s incredibly common for patients who are undergoing fertility treatment to struggle with mental health, especially anxiety and depression. And while self-care is something everyone needs, making self-care part of your routine takes on even greater importance for anyone who struggles with the symptoms of anxiety or depression.
One easily overlooked self-care practice is to seek support, especially from others who have been in your shoes. The Huffington Post explains how having a community of people who know your struggles helps. We also recommend therapy as a self-care strategy, along with everyday actions you can take to put a stop to negative thoughts and feelings. Practicing mindfulness, meditation, and kindness to yourself can be extremely helpful.
While this tip may initially sound a little negative, it’s actually quite the opposite. Many of us have a hard time saying “no” to others, which can lead to over-commitment and stress. On top of the anxiety that comes from being stretched too thin, saying “yes” to everyone else leaves little time for what you need to do for you. In a way, this means that saying “no” is one self-care practice you have to do in order to make time for all the others.
Saying “no,” going for a walk when you feel like you have work to do — these are things that may feel selfish if you aren’t used to them. The reality is that none of these practices are selfish. After all, you can’t be the best version of yourself when you aren’t giving yourself proper care.
Brad Krause created Self Caring to share his own knowledge and the many great resources he has found on his self-care journey
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