Written by Gurleen Khaira
Self care is all about you. It is about doing the activities which make you happy, relaxed and just all over, make you feel healthy. But with busy schedules and more commitments than you can handle, we are all culprits of allowing our own self care to suffer. Perhaps this is because we do not actually realise how much benefit a relaxing day in or a nutritional meal can have for our mental and physical health.
However, the importance of self care should not be underestimated. Self care is all about prioritising your health; not just physically, but mentally too. Self care cannot be discussed without mentioning mental health; which is becoming an ever growing topic of discussion due to the masses it impacts. There is a plerentha of studies showcasing the relationship between our mental health and other health issues. Looking at dementia in particular, studies by the Mental Health Foundation (2016) highlight that 40% of people with dementia also suffer from depression and that the rate of dementia increases by 13% with every episode of depression. These staggering statistics highlight the attention that we must give to our mental health. One way this can be done is by creating a self care routine.
Having a balanced diet is at the core of self care. Eating a nutritional meal not only keeps your body physically healthy, but can also help you feel energised. Knowing that you have had a healthy meal can help you look positively at your daily routine. Moreover, studies highlight that those who have diets with high vegetable/fruit intake are less likely to suffer from depression than those who have a diet with a high junk food intake (Fleming, 2019). This demonstrates the huge influence that the food we put in our body can have on our emotions, making it vital to include healthy eating in your self care routine.
Unplug from the Internet
Whilst the benefits of the Internet and Social Media can not be undermined, it is important to take a step back. Constant messages and emails along with breaking news headlines can make it difficult to catch your breath and just live in the moment. Simply turning off your phone for an hour or so a day to do something you enjoy can actually be very beneficial. You could read a book or make a home cooked meal; something distant from the hustle and bustle of the outside world.
Remember when we were kids and our parents would put us in bed for 9pm? Turns out, a good night's sleep is actually very important for our mental health. First of all, feeling fresh and awake is genuinely just a good feeling. Our body is more energised which helps with productivity and attentiveness. Studies also show that a good night’s sleep can help our physical health, with a lack of sleep being connected to Type 2 diabetes and inflammation. Emotionally, a lack of sleep can mean we are less likely to identify social cues like facial expressions ( Leech, 2019) and mentally, it is reported that 90% of those who suffer from dementia complain about their sleep quality (Tsuno, et al. 2005). Therefore, making sure that we get between 6 to 9 hours of sleep can greatly impact our health, thus making it a vital step for your self care routine.
We all know that exercise is good for our physical health. As an added advantage, it is also vital for our mental health. This is because it makes us feel motivated and according to the NHS, studies suggest that it can increase our self-esteem, self-control and help with mild forms of depression. Now, doing exercise does not necessarily mean that you have to be a fitness guru. Rather, you can join a fitness class that you enjoy or simply go on a brisk walk outside which also means you get fresh air.
These few simple steps can have a great impact on your mental health. Simple things like going to bed earlier or cooking a nutritional meal can mean you feel more energised and happy, which ultimately aids your mental wellbeing.