Four pillars of good self-care.
We all try to lead the type of lifestyle that can help us be our best self. Few of us pay attention to self-care, often putting everyone else’s needs before our own. But it’s imperative that you take time out of every day to look out for your own health, because you can’t help others if you don’t help yourself.
“When it comes to a patient’s overall health, most of what comprises your health happens well outside of a hospital or exam room. It’s about your social support, your environment, your happiness, and your dietary input,” says Dr. Christopher Robles, Family Medicine and Primary Care physician at White Plains Hospital Physician Associates. “That’s why I find it very important during an annual physical to dive into your daily life and background and family history – this helps to bridge the gap between health care and self-care and advice can be tailored accordingly.”
Factors that can have positive effect on your overall health include:
- Have fun while staying fit. Regular exercise increases the production of serotonin, a hormone that promotes positive feelings, like pleasure and happiness. Exercising regularly can lower the risk of developing some diseases, including obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure and can you help you lose weight. “Brisk walks, hikes, gym time, swimming, dancing, martial arts, all of these activities can raise your heart rate and encourage a healthier state of mind and body,” says Dr. Robles.
- Get your zzzzs. Your body needs time to rest, renew and recover from your busy day. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that healthy adults get between 7-9 hours of sleep each night. A good night’s sleep can strengthen your immune system, sharpen your memory and benefit your mental health.
- You are what you eat. A healthy diet may help to prevent certain long-term chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke and diabetes. “You can boost your general health by eating a diet that is full of protein, healthy fats, and lots of veggies,” says Dr. Robles. “In general, making your own food is healthier than eating out.”
- Be mindful and be happy. Mindfulness has been found to be a key element in stress reduction and overall happiness. Mindfulness practices that can improve day-to-day living include deep breathing, mindful eating and listening. The advantages of practicing mindfulness include higher brain functioning, increased awareness, attention, and focus, as well as lowered anxiety levels.
Life is precious, and it is meant to be enjoyed. Along with regular visits to your doctor, concentrating on self-care can lead you toward improved overall health and wellness.