What is Self-Care?
One of the biggest trends for 2020 is self-care. We’re not talking about treating yourself to a spa day or taking that long-awaited vacation. We’re talking about doing something – just for yourself – on a regular basis. Self-care is defined as a “set of activities in which one engages throughout life on a daily basis.” Simply put, self-care is doing something that you enjoy. Prioritizing that enjoyment nourishes your mental, emotional and physical health.
Research shows that the more we practice self-care, the more confident, creative, and productive we are. We make better decisions, build stronger relationships, and communicate more effectively. Good self-care also improves your mood and reduces anxiety. Despite these positive features, self-care is often overlooked. Sure, we’ve all heard how important self-care is, but how do we fit it into an already packed day? Between family, work, chores and other commitments, it’s easy to see how self-care takes a back seat.
Author Dr. Jennifer Ashton recently wrote a book that may offer a solution to the “no time for self-care” dilemma. The book is called The Self-Care Solution. In it, Dr. Ashton set out to do a year of self-care by taking on an individual challenge, one month at a time. She was inspired by this concept after trying the popular “Dry January” trend, where people take a month-long break from alcohol after the holidays. After seeing the benefits of this challenge Dr. Ashton turned the February into another challenge. And then another in March and so on. “Over the course of the year, I did largely develop 12 new habits that have the ability to impact health and wellness much more so in aggregate than they do individually,” she said.
Baby Steps: one month at a time
Below are the monthly resolutions from Dr. Ashton’s website. She suggests people use this list as a year-long template for starting a self-care journey. And hopefully, keep some of the new habits at the end of the year. What we like about these challenges listed below is that it’s hard to make excuses it costs ZERO dollars to get started.
- January/Dry Month: This small lifestyle change has abundant benefits including lowering cancer risk, better sleep, clearer skin, weight loss, mood improvement, and a fuller bank account.
- February/Push-Ups and Planks: No need for a personal trainer or fancy gym membership. Just a few minutes a day will drastically increase arm, core, and back strength while reducing aches and pains and improving posture.
- March/Meditation: The benefits of a few minutes of meditation a day are shocking; it can help you fall asleep at night, be just as effective as antidepressants, control appetite, reduce inflammation, lengthen telomeres—which control aging—and make you more socially confident.
- April/Cardio: Did you know that not incorporating daily cardio activity in your life can be just as bad as smoking? Aerobic exercise can also make you smarter, reduce cancer risk, treat high blood pressure and cholesterol, make you look younger, and improve sleep.
- May/Less Meat, More Plants: Overconsumption of red meat is linked to breast and colon cancer as well as heart disease and diabetes. Plants, on the other hand, boost metabolism, skin health, brain function, mood, and can lead to weight loss with minimal effort.
- June/Hydration: Dehydration can be sneaky and even deadly. Chronic dehydration is akin to smoking and the risks that go along with it. Proper hydration is the ultimate (and cheapest!) skin serum, prevents UTI’s and kidney stones, and treats oral issues like bad breath and tooth decay.
- July/More Steps: We’ve all heard that “sitting is the new smoking” and it’s true. Walking for more of your day can help you lose more weight than you think it can, cut cravings and hunger, boost your mood, and increase bone density in ways other exercise does not.
- August/Mindful Tech: Your smartphone addiction may be just as bad as being addicted to drugs, not to mention that you’re missing out on friends, family, and important life moments. Cutting screen time per day can even reduce aging, better your mood, help you sleep, and help your eyes.
- September/Less Sugar: The bad news is that you’re eating way more sugar than you think, but the good news is that becoming mindful and reducing consumption will clear up your skin, induce weight loss, and improve cognitive function and mental health.
- October/Stretching: Overhaul your energy, strengthen muscles to prevent injuries, improve posture and appearance, prevent chronic illnesses, and a foam roller is your ticket to daily massage.
- November/Sleep: Not getting enough sleep can kill you—literally. From cognitive improvements to weight loss to mood-boosting to appearance, making good sleep is non-negotiable in your life will improve just about every area of health and wellness.
- December/Laughter: Laughing daily has its benefits both inside and out. You’ll release blocked emotions, become more likable and attractive to those around you, improve memory, and help you live a longer, healthier life in which joy abounds.
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