By Kendra Bylsma, Director of Wellness at AllOne Health

“Health is the crown on the well person’s head that only the ill person can see.” 

There’s a great deal of truth in that adage. We often take our health for granted until we lose it. And then we spend the best hours of our best days trying to get it back. However, a better approach would be to preserve and nurture our health—while we still can.

When we are healthy, we are happier. When we feel better about ourselves, we treat others better. And when we feel stronger physically, we are tougher mentally.

Being healthy helps you breathe through it all. It helps you manage stress. It gives you more energy. It helps you sleep better, think better, and love better. Yet, many of us already know this but are still not taking care of ourselves, as holistically or frequently as we should.

Understanding self-care

Self-care is an activity that strengthens, nourishes, or develops who we are at our core. And while we often think that self-care is just physical activity or eating more vegetables, it encompasses so much more. 

Self-care should be intentional each day, meaning that you slow down enough to listen to what you need most. On days when you are feeling physically exhausted, exercise your mind. And on days when you are feeling mentally exhausted, exercise your body.   

Self-care takes consistency and patience, two values that seem to go against the status quo these days. Many of us throw in the towel because we don’t think we see results fast enough or it will take too long to feel a significant change.

Robin Sharma, a best-selling author and leadership expert, once said, “a great life is not built by revolution but by evolution.” Small and steady wins the race. What you do every single day is simply your life in miniature, so consider looking at self-care in 24-hour pockets of time.  

The following small doses of self-care are simple and non-glamorous. But when compounded over time, they can radically change the way you live your best days:

  • Breathe deeply. Movement is breath; breath is movement. When you walk, when you stretch, or when you sit at your desk, breathe fully through your lungs for six seconds; hold, and then exhale for eight seconds. Repeat for one minute throughout the day to calm your parasympathetic nervous system.  
  • Walk frequently: Break up your day with mini walk breaks to reset your cognitive and emotional health. When you get stuck in a project or emotion, take a short walk.  
  • Laugh more and stay intimate. Not only do these keep the weight off but when we are happy, we are more motivated in all areas of life to take care of ourselves.    
  • Press Reset. So you had a bad day. What’s the best way to hit reset? Sleep. Sleep erases the stress of yesterday and gives you a clean slate. Turn off tv, swap that glass of wine for cozy pajamas, and get off your device. Sleep is one of the most effective yet overlooked forms of self-care needed today.    

If you’d like additional help, please reach out to your Assistance Program for confidential support and referrals.

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