Self-care is a topic we’ve been discussing and promoting quite a bit lately at All in the Family Dental Care. But what does self-care really mean? The true definition is the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being, health, and happiness. We love this definition. It’s a perfect explanation of everything we’ve been focusing on and encouraging our patients to do. Being proactive. Protecting your well-being. Protecting your health. Encouraging happiness. We live in a world that moves faster than most of us can keep up with, with the average person feeling stressed and/or overwhelmed in their day to day life. We need to do something about this.
All in the Family Dental Care recently hosted an event called Nourish You – Mind. Body. Soul. It was a day specifically for women to work on improving their daily lives in hopes to increase energy, positive mental thinking and overall quality of life. We discussed topics such as nutrition, meditation, mindfulness, and had an emotional deep dive that allowed everyone to really connect with their inner selves in order to clear their minds and take a necessary step back from the hustle and bustle of every day life. The event was a huge success with women leaving feeling rejuvenated, and centered with the world. Everything we could have hoped for and more. In the rest of this blog post we hope we can direct you on how to disconnect from the world, focus on your mindfulness, and the importance of your own self-care.
How Stress Affects Your Body
Chronic stress can destroy your health. Stress weakens our immune systems and inflames the body, making it more likely for us to get colds, have sleeping issues, gain weight, develop stomach ulcers, depression, diabetes and heart disease. These are all serious health issues, yet being “stressed out” isn’t something that many take seriously or work to prevent.
The changes and results that come from stress often go hand in hand with poor choices we make when at the end of our rope. Common reactions are zoning out in front of an electronic screen, bingeing junk food, alcohol, and drugs, all of which contribute negative effects on your body like obesity, poor sleep and ultimately, an unhappy existence.
Rather than giving in to poor decisions and habits in order to manage life’s stressors, we need to focus on treating ourselves with love, respect and kindness — but also discipline. This is where Nourish You advocates for self-care to prevent our patients from getting to this point.
Hitting the Pause Button
We can start by taking a few minutes each day to “hit the pause button”. We all need activities that promote inner peace and calm, that allow us to unwind from stress and get in touch with our own personal needs. Below are suggestions for ways you can hit your own pause button and escape from reality for a few minutes each day. It may take some time to find what works best for you, but once you do, you’ll question why you weren’t doing this all along.
- Take an epsom salt bath
- Practice guided meditation
- Perform even a few yoga poses
- Walk barefoot on the beach or in the grass
- Spend time in nature
- Listen to the ocean
- Make an effort to go to sleep early
- Practice gratitude
These stress-relieving practices quiet the mind, balance hormones, including cortisol (the stress hormone), lower blood pressure and improve brain health. For those with busy schedules, you may need to set an alarm or block out time on your calendar to ensure you really get to take this time for yourself.
Mindfulness is an incredible tool to help people understand, tolerate, and deal with their emotions in healthy ways. It helps us to alter our habitual responses by taking pause and choosing how we act. When we are mindful, we experience our life as we live it. We experience the world directly through our five senses. We taste the food we are eating. We recognize the thoughts we are having. In doing so, we learn how our minds work, and we are better able to label the thoughts and feelings we are having, instead of allowing them to overpower us and dictate our behavior. Because mindfulness presents an effective method to get to know oneself, to reduce stress, and to live in the present moment, cultivating mindfulness is a powerful practice.
Mindfulness has proven to:
When we practice mindfulness, we’re practicing the art of creating space for ourselves—space to think, space to breathe, space between ourselves and our reactions.
Eating transitions from a mindless practice of filling a void — both physical and emotional — to a pleasurable experience of tasting and enjoying food. Good nutrition is an important stress management tool. When our bodies are poorly fed, stress takes an even greater toll on our health. Nutrition and stress are interlinked and it’s important for us to focus on eating healthy in order to practice self-care. Here are some ways to eat well, reduce stress, and improve overall health.
- Eat regularly. Your brain needs glucose to work at its best. Eating regularly throughout the day helps keep your blood glucose stable. Studies have shown that more stable blood sugar levels are associated with better performance whether it be at work school, or in daily activities.
- Get your healthy fats. Omega-3 fatty acids found in walnuts, avocados, flax seed and fish oil are associated with brain function. Deficiencies of this fatty acid can result in depression and/or anxiety.
- Eat your veggies. Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins and minerals like copper, zinc, manganese, and vitamins A, E and C. These vitamins and minerals work to neutralize harmful molecules produced when your body is under stress.
- Add high-fiber foods. High fiber intake has been associated with greater alertness and decreased perceived stress. So add fiber-rich foods like oatmeal, nuts, beans, fruits and vegetables to your diet.
- Trade caffeine for more sleep. Caffeine leads to increased blood pressure and may make you anxious, especially if you are already prone to anxiety. While consuming caffeine may seem to help you concentrate better, some studies show that caffeine only restores what is lost through lack of sleep. Instead of turning to caffeine, try the natural grade booster – sleep when possible.
- Stock up on healthy snacks. If you know that a stressful or busy time is approaching, prepare by stocking up on quick, healthy snacks. Healthy snacks are high in protein and/or fiber. Some examples are low fat granola, almonds, peanuts, carrots with hummus or yogurt with fresh fruit.
Self-Care is NOT Selfish
It’s time to view self-care differently. After all, it is really just taking care of yourself — which is vital for health and well-being. Whether you are a mom or dad taking care of a family, or an independent person that has an important job that depends on them, people rely on you. You need to be the best version of yourself for YOU, and those around you will reap the benefits as well.
More specifically, self-care means identifying and meeting your needs, something we often struggle with. We tend to put others first – children, spouses, parents, friends, even pets. We feel obligated to be the caretakers. Shifting the balance from everyone-else-care to myself-care is uncharted territory for many of us and we can feel uncomfortable at first.
However, it is important to do so. If you don’t properly care for yourself, your body will let you know. Taking care of yourself is one of the most important things to do in life.
At All in the Family Dental Care, we truly hope you benefit from this blog post and that you’ll begin to put aside a few minutes everyday to focus on YOU. You, and everyone around you will benefit from this change and the positive effects are endless on your mind, body, and soul. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us by calling our office 732-449-2228 or discussing this with Dr. Jack or Dr. Joe at your next appointment.
If you have a woman or mom in your life that could take advantage of hitting the pause button, consider treating her with our Mother’s Day Special.