If you have been looking for a reason to take better care of yourself, consider this article your gateway ticket. What does taking care of ourselves mean? It simply means taking action to promote optimal mental and physical well-being and not waiting until everything in our life is a mess to take action.
The problem is we aren’t doing enough of it.
Remember the airplane instruction “Secure your oxygen mask first in order to assist another.’ This axiom is core not only to our survival, but to others as well. Ensuring you are protecting and developing yourself is key to living optimally.
Most of us were raised to put others first or that self-sacrifice is revered and that focusing on yourself was considered selfish at the very least. Unfortunately, this has led to generations of individuals suffering in some form from health conditions, depression, lack of motivation, lack of success, guilt feelings and more…all in the name of ‘doing more for others.’
In the end, self-neglect has a big price to pay.
It costs you happiness.
It damages your health.
It impacts your productivity.
So what can you do to impact your life in a dynamic way? Check out the Self-Care Checklist below. Taking action on just one item will have a powerful productive change upon every area of your life.
Your action plan:
Make health your priority
You may have heard the old saying that “Health is Wealth” and there is a good reason for that. Without our health, we do not have the mental well-being, the energy, the motivation, the cellular health, along with sufficient and healthy mitochondria (key to health), to help achieve what we desire in life. Unfortunately, in many cases, health is not valued until dis-ease enters. Ensure your diet is nutrient-dense, packed with protein, healthy fats, veggies, fiber and water. If you are overweight, make 2018 a leaner you, taking action on this will not only reduce weight, but will slash your risk for diabetes and other metabolic conditions.
Not all stress is bad, it spurs us into action, perform at our best and helps us to save our lives when in danger.
Our ancestors would experience stress when they were being chased by the lion – that didn’t happen 24/7. It’s important to note that stress did not kill the caveman and our response to danger (stress) hasn’t changed at all…but the stressors have. Unfortunately, the type of stress that many experience is chronic stress and it has become such a large part of our now human existence. We were never meant to live with chronic stress.
Studies show that getting in-tune with ourselves through mindfulness (being aware of bodily sensations) slashes stress and depression. Exercise is key to reduce and prevent stress as well as specific breathing techniques such as Box Breathing (created by the Navy Seals) that will stop the stress response in its tracks and you can use it anywhere (while driving, to promote sleep, to go back to sleep, before a big event etc):
Simply breathe in through the nose for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds and hold again for 5 seconds.
It’s so easy to react automatically to situations, but we do have a choice: stop, breathe, choose, react.
Look back but don’t stare
We all have a story and some have stories that are dramatic and heart-wrenching. The key is to take the lesson(s) and move on. If you are always looking back, you can’t see the road ahead.
I had a childhood that, if I chose to focus there it would keep me there, enmeshed in the emotion for years – not a healthy way to live life. When I speak to audiences, I talk about my past and use it only as a testament about the lessons learned and the power of looking forward and how it helps to increase success in every area of life. Using our experiences helps others to know what is possible for them.
You see, you can’t move forward while looking in the rear view mirror.
You were wired for happiness, adventure and abundance. Somewhere along the line, you may have been ‘rewired’ resulting in frustration, disappointment and a sense of ‘is this all there is?’
Research shows chronic negative emotion leads to poor health and quality of life and conversely, that feeling happy leads to greater success, a better quality of life that may also help prevent disease, including heart disease.
Science has proven that happy people are healthier and live longer
Taking care of yourself means that you are giving in to your innate pleasure responses, not letting them dictate and not feeling guilty. Does that mean to binge more on a Saturday night with Netflix? Yes, if that is what helps you feel contentment or happiness and not get in the way of or create personal life obstacles.
Sometimes, taking care of yourself is about choosing what you want and/or need in that moment but we must be proactive in our happiness choices.
Getting outside can promote optimal brain function, reduces stress, promote a positive shift in mood, increase our ‘happy transmitters’ – the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine that make us feel good and increases overall health.
Make it a point to go outside every day. Take every opportunity to proactively take care of you.
Fixate on future success
Focusing on past ‘failures’ or disappointments can keep us stuck in that energy. If, for example, you are fixating, dwelling or obsessing on the past ‘mistakes’ etc., it’s okay to notice – but not dwell. Know that change and/or transformation is inevitable in life. Research any success story on Google and you will quickly see the plethora of men and women who were in unwanted situations in their lives. They shifted their thinking and behavior to achieve their desired outcomes; they changed how they think, what they chose to believe and the actions they took. You can too.
“Live for what tomorrow has to offer, not for what yesterday has taken away” ~Unknown
Taking care of your health and mental well-being should be a priority, ironically, it tends to be last. If you needed a reminder to take better care of yourself, the above action steps can serve as that reminder. Here’s to a Happy and Healthy 2018!
LORI SHEMEK, Ph.D., is a leading researcher in fat cells and the owner of DLSHealthWorks, a company she created to help men and women conquer their issues with weight and self-esteem. Her work has been featured in Ladies’ Home Journal, Shape, Woman’s Day, The Rikki Lake Show, ABC, CNN, NPR, FOX News, and The Huffington Post, which recognized her as one of the nation’s top diet and nutrition experts.
Dr. Shemek holds a Doctorate in Psychology; she is a Certified Nutritional Consultant and a Certified Life Coach.
©2020 DLS HealthWorks