When you think of self-care, your mind may drift off to bubble baths and yoga retreats. However, the truth is that these indulgences are only part of the picture. In actuality, self-care is really just the process of caring for yourself in a way that supports your overall health. And unfortunately, there’s a good chance that you are neglecting one or more of the key components of self-care.
Health is a priority
Self-care is not just finding ways to relieve tension. Instead, a big part of your self-care routine should focus on your physical health. This encompasses many areas, but dental care is one that one-third of Americans tend to neglect, according to Colgate. This is an alarming statistic, since in many ways, the health of your mouth dictates the health of your entire body. If you don’t make an effort to care for your mouth, you’ll wind up with cavities, dental diseases, or missing teeth. This can tank your self-confidence levels and make it difficult to prioritize nutrition, since eating may become painful.
Poor oral health has even been linked to depression. If you have health insurance, you may already be paying for dental care, and there are many online resources that can help you find a dentist in your area.
Another factor that contributes to depression is pain throughout the body. Many individuals have found that acupuncture and chiropractic adjustments are extremely beneficial but do not pursue regular treatment, as these services are typically not covered by insurance, including Medicare. However, physical therapy is covered under Medicare and most traditional insurance policies. Physical therapy can help you regain your strength, improve your flexibility, and decrease inflammation. The result is often less pain, meaning you do not have to expend the bulk of your emotional energy trying to fight discomfort.
Sleep is essential
Do you spend your evenings cleaning the house, thinking about work, or otherwise engaged well past 10 PM? If so, you may be missing out on one of the most important steps of a healthy self-care routine: sleep. Talkspace contributor Richard James Havis recently wrote an article outlining the results of different studies, which, together, seem to prove that a lack of sleep has a significant effect on mental health.
Further, failure to regularly get at least seven hours of slumber can take a toll on your physical wellbeing. If you are looking to improve your sleep hygiene, start by looking at the clock. Make a point to go to bed when you can devote at least eight hours to rest. Plan to sleep alone if you and your partner are on different sleep schedules (or if their snoring noise keeps you awake).
No more extras
One of the hardest things for most adults to do is to say no to our friends and family. However, the word “no” should become a regular part of your vocabulary. You do not have to comply with every request, especially if it interferes with important aspects of your life, such as sleep, family time, or anything else you need to feel your best. Saying yes to everything will only create a situation where you feel overwhelmed, and that can result in stress, poor performance at work, and even physical illness. It’s okay to be selfish. What is not okay is wearing yourself so thin that you do not have the time or energy to make yourself a priority.
Your self-care habits should not take a backseat position in your life. Doing things like going to the dentist, sleeping well, and managing pain will make you the best version of yourself for you and your family.