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Published on August 28, 2018

woman taking bubble bath

#TryItTuesday: Self-Care and Healthy Living

With September knocking at the door, it’s time to stop and take a look at how close we are to those health goals we promised ourselves back in January.

How are you doing?

For me, 2018 has brought some of the highest highs ... and lowest of lows, yes, this is life. As I reflect on my goal of a healthy lifestyle, something interesting came to my attention. I was most successful on sticking to my healthy living when I made ONE thing a GOAL— self-care.

Whether it was during the happy season or the challenging season, when I took the time to focus on my self-care, I had a win with achieving my healthy lifestyle goals of eating healthy, exercising and getting enough sleep. When I neglected to take time for self-care, I made poorer food choices, didn’t exercise, and skimped on my sleep.

“Before anything (or anyone) else, make sure you are taking care of yourself. If you are not treating yourself well on the inside, you will not be healthy or happy on the outside. Self-care is essential to your wellness.” – Healthy-chicks.com

What is Self-Care?

Eating healthy and being active is a form of self-care. But, today I’d like to talk about something different, a little deeper. Perhaps it’d be better-called soul care. That place that’s deep inside all of us that helps us find our calm. The place that gives us hope, energy and reminds us of our purpose.

Why Self-Care?

Here are a few sobering statistics on stress in the United States from the American Psychological Association, American Institute of Stress. 

  • 77 percent of people regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress
  • 73 percent regularly experience psychological symptoms caused by stress
  • 33 percent are living with extreme stress
  • 48 percent feel their stress has increased over the past five years
  • 76 percent have cited money and work as the leading cause of their stress
  • 48 percent report lying awake at night due to stress

As a nurse and health educator, these numbers make me sad (and a little mad!)

Did you know 75 to 90 percent of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints? Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety. I wonder if we all practiced a more self-care if we wouldn’t have a dramatic impact on these frightening statistics.

I get it. With work, family and life obligations, it’s a challenge not to let stress take over our days and nights.

What if we declare September to be Stressless September! Let's try it and we can start with these simple self-care tips:

  1. Fitting time in our schedules is often the most significant barrier. But with a little creativity, it is possible. 
  2. Ask for help. One of the best things we can do for self-care is realize when we have too much on our plate and request a little backup.
  3. Can your partner pick the kids up from school? Can your team members take the extra project? Can you swap play date times with friends? Can you hire a sitter for a few hours? Any of these can really change the pace of a busy day.
  4. Meal prep and grocery shopping take a lot of time. A few small changes with this weekly, or daily, task can give you the self-care time you need.

Here are a few of my favorite meal/grocery time-savers:

  • I have a master grocery list that I keep in our kitchen, and when we run low or out of an item, my family is instructed to circle the item.
  • Subscribe to a menu planning program that has new recipes and a grocery list.
  • When short on time, purchase cut-up produce or meal kits.
  • Order groceries online, so all you have to do is drive through and pick them up.

When it comes to self-care it’s important to choose an activity you love to do. Here are a few ideas:

  • Sit on your deck with a cup of coffee
  • Read a book
  • Take a bubble bath with candles
  • Spend an evening with your friends
  • Listen to music
  • Take a nap
  • Take time for your favorite hobby
  • Have a Netflix binge
  • Take time to play
  • Get a manicure/pedicure
  • Spend time in nature
  • Call a friend whom you haven’t talked to for ages
  • Write in a journal

Please remember: do NOT make self-care another item on your to-do list. Make it an item on your want-to, need-to, have-to list. Self-care is about doing something for yourself that you enjoy and that breathes life into you! 

We all have a lot on our plate, especially with trying to balance a career and personal life. Don’t wait until you experience burnout or get sick to begin practicing self-care. Neglecting self-care has real consequences for our minds, body and even our professional life.

Let’s say no to those stress statistics and prioritize our self-care today!

Live Better. Live Balanced. Avera.

Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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