What should be at the top of your to-do list? Taking care of yourself.
Sound extreme? Too indulgent? You’re already strapped for time as work, home and family responsibilities blur together. But it turns out, self-care makes you better at parenting, relationships and other “adulting” responsibilities.
“When you value your health, it not only helps you operate from a better mental and physical capacity, it gives you the energy needed to keep making difficult decisions, executing business ideas and supporting others during times of crisis,” said Donna Iverson, APRN, a psychiatric nurse practitioner with Baptist Behavioral Health.
Think of self-care as the components that make up a healthy mind and body, from eating nutritious foods to exploring creativity. Your physical and mental health are intertwined. The better you feel and your body functions, the sharper your brain and focus. Eat healthy foods, regularly move your body and get quality sleep so you’re not irritable and can perform at your best.
“We all have a baseline level of brain functioning, and this can be improved through certain behaviors,” said Iverson. “A person’s mental health puts everything in sync and that should be everyone’s focus.”
“Your health is your most prized commodity," she added. "Consider your mental health as an investment.”
Iverson provided some tips to help you start your self-care journey.
Find your fitness passion.
Take time to sample a few different activities to find one you enjoy. If you have fun playing soccer, swimming, running or dancing, you won’t dread exercising.
“Physical activity can help you set organizational and personal goals because your mind is clear,” said Iverson.
Keep your connections.
Value your relationships with friends, family and colleagues, near and far. Be mindful of scheduling time for others and exploring creativity. Reach out to someone for a coffee date or meet at the beach. Social distancing does not have to mean social isolation. Stay engaged with others – virtual check-ins count!
Block off time for thought. Set aside periods to reflect on where your mind is focused and where you may need to adjust your life plans. Dedicating time to fill up your well of mental strength is key, said Iverson.
Be your own life coach and establish a framework to improve your future. What can you do differently to achieve your goals? Abandon old habits and remove negative relationships or business goals. If you’re having a hard time doing this for yourself, consider getting a wellness coach.
You can’t say yes to everything and still have time to make mental health a priority. Decide what’s important, delegate to others or change responsibilities. This could mean talking with your partner about stepping up their parenting duties or having a conversation with your boss about letting go of some projects you’re tackling at work.
Laughing can help us get through difficult times. It’s a significant protective factor that contributes towards resilience. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins (AKA “feel-good hormones”) in regions of the brain responsible for arousal and emotion.
“Your mental health is everything,” said Iverson. “It is more important than your grades, job status, likes on your social media feed, or any other metrics of success.”
If you need someone to help guide you on your self-care journey, Baptist Health's wellness coaches are here to help. If you'd like the support of a counselor or therapist, call Baptist Behavioral Health at 904.376.3800.