You’re overwhelmed at work, and it’s not much better at home. With so much on your plate, it’s only natural that self-care takes a back seat. But is that really the best approach? While it might seem like no big deal to skip lunch or cut back on sleep when your schedule is jam-packed with responsibilities, neglecting personal wellness in times of high stress only makes things worse.
Basic self-care practices like getting enough sleep, eating healthy meals, and finding time to relax protect your mental health when times are hard. Forgoing these practices reduces your resilience to stress, leaving you less capable each day. Over time, it drastically increases your risk of developing serious mental and physical health problems. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, chronic stress1 “can suppress immune, digestive, sleep, and reproductive systems,” and over the long-term, “may contribute to serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other illnesses, as well as mental disorders like depression and anxiety.”
Self-care might sound like a wellness fad, but at its core, it’s just another way of talking about the ways people manage routine stress2. It’s about the things you do for yourself, as well as the things you don’t do—like taking on more than you can handle, using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate, or maintaining toxic relationships3. If you want to protect your wellness and prevent physical and mental illness, incorporate these holistic self-care practices into your life.
Care for Your Body
When it comes to food, choosing convenience over nutrition only sets yourself up for serious health problems later on—not to mention the medical bills that come with them. Prioritize all-natural foods to give yourself more energy on a daily basis and strengthen your immune system so you’re less likely to catch a cold or flu. Ayurvedic cooking is one of the best ways to fuel your body. However, even if you don’t practice Ayurveda, you can promote health by choosing fresh, whole ingredients and sourcing from organic, local sources so you’re eating the most nutrient-dense food possible.
Of course, food isn’t the only ingredient in a healthy lifestyle. Schedule your days to allow seven to nine hours of sleep per night, and practice good sleep hygiene. Avoid stimulation late at night, keep a consistent sleep-wake schedule, and turn your bedroom into a sanctuary where you leave worries at the door. If you’re struggling with sleep imbalances, consider these Ayurvedic sleep tips4 from vpk by Maharishi Ayurveda.
When you’re feeling worn down despite your best efforts, all-natural medicine can give your health the boost it needs to keep illness at bay. While medicinal herbs can’t replace Western medicine when it comes to certain serious illnesses, they support good health so you can avoid unnecessary trips to the doctor—often a source of stress in itself.
Calm Your Mind
Good sleep and diet support a strong mind, but they’re no panacea for mental illness. It’s equally important to do self-care that directly supports your psychological health.
When you find yourself confronted with an intense, unpleasant emotion, ignoring it tends to leave you stewing in negativity for hours. Instead, face difficult feelings head-on by pausing, acknowledging the emotion, and then using deep-breathing exercises to let it pass.
When you have more time, immerse yourself in meditative practices to rest your mind and channel a state of mindfulness. Meditation doesn’t come in one form; there are several ways to practice it, including concentration meditation, mindfulness meditation, and yoga meditation, among others5. No matter which meditative practices you choose, meditation6 will help you become more mindful in everyday life. That improves your ability to let go of stress, frustration, and other negative feelings, rather than allowing them to linger and harm your well-being.
You can’t stop stress from entering your life, but you can control how you respond to it. Will you let stress overcome you, or will you overcome stress to lead a life that fulfills and uplifts you? If you prefer the latter, practicing physical and psychological self-care is a must.
1 National Institute of Mental Health. “5 Things You Should Know About Stress.” NIMH.NIH.Gov. Web.
2 Plexus Worldwide. “10 Techniques for Stress Management.” PlexusWorldwide.com. Web
3 David, Rebecca. “6 Ways to Identify a Toxic Relationship.” CraftingASimplerLife.com. Web. April 10, 2017
4 Maharishi Ayurveda. “Ayurvedic Tips for Another Good Night’s Sleep.” Mapi.com. Web.
5 Eisler, Melissa. “11 Meditation Styles and Techniques Explained.” MindfulMinutes.com. Web. May 6, 2015
6 Rama, Swami. “The Real Meaning of Meditation.” Yoga International. Web.