Through no fault of their own, many people may not know how to take care of themselves and their well-being to the fullest. Your parents could have emphasized excelling in academics and in your career, but they may not have shown you how to maintain a regular exercise routine. You may have grown up in a home where rich South Asian food was cooked daily, but now you’re struggling with how to create a nutritious diet for yourself. You may have numbed your emotional needs to survive years of trauma, but that doesn’t seem to work for you anymore. Or, you might be busy with daily responsibilities where your self-care goes on the backburner.
A holistic approach to self-care and well-being is important because everything about your health is intertwined. Ignoring your mental/emotional health can lead to aching muscles and a weaker immune system. Ignoring your physical health can leave you feeling too fatigued to maintain your social life. Ignoring your spiritual health can make it harder to cope with mental health issues. When you make your needs a priority, you can enjoy the rewards of being more energetic, happier and more focused. If you can’t shake off the feeling of being burnt out, here are 10 ways to adopt a well-rounded approach to your health.
1. Move Your Body
You may already know that exercise lowers your risk of developing certain diseases and increases endorphins (“feel good” chemicals). Dancing with your friends, trying a YouTube video workout, and doing squats when watching a movie still counts. Spending 10 minutes per activity can add up throughout the week and increase your long-term well-being.
2. Get Enough Sleep for Your Well-Being
Some people are okay with seven hours of sleep. Others need nine hours to feel fully rested. Find out how much sleep you specifically need to perform at your best. It’s no secret that a lack of sleep leaves us feeling mentally exhausted and puts us at a higher risk of diseases.
[Read Related: What Stops South Asians From Discussing Mental Health]
3. Add More Fruits, Vegetables, Whole Grains, and Lean Meats to Your Diet
Unhealthy food may feel good in the moment, but too much of it causes problems in the long-run. What we eat impacts how we feel physically AND mentally. Refer to choosemyplate.gov to learn how to eat healthy on a budget.
4. Reach Out for Help When You’re Struggling
Don’t bury your suicidal thoughts and bad memories by thinking that they will go away. Letting an understanding person know what you’re dealing with can not only help you release what’s unvoiced but expressing your feelings out loud can help you come up with a solution.
5. Take a Mental Health Day
Got some vacation time from work that you haven’t used up? Taking days off for yourself will help prevent burnout and manage stress. It gives you a break to pause, clear your thoughts, reflect and recharge. Even if a mental health day means doing nothing at home, that may be just what you need.
6. Self-Soothe When You Have to Rely on Yourself
There might be days where you don’t have anyone to reach out to for support. Knowing how to self-soothe can help you manage what’s bothering you in the moment. Distract yourself by doing something that stimulates your senses: taking a hot bath, drinking a cup of tea, lighting a candle, seeing artwork or listening to music.
7. Take an Honest Look at Your Social Circle
Are you friends with people who criticize you, judge you, gaslight you, and control you? The quality of your social circle influences your health, where toxic friends can lead to poor self-esteem. Socialize with good people who help you feel like you belong. Maintaining close and positive relationships with others can also protect against illnesses.
8. Practice Meditation for Wellness
We have all heard of meditating, but how many of us want to sit there and take the time to do it? Once you start making it a habit, meditation can help you find inner balance. Apps like Headspace and Calm are great for beginners. Spending 5-10 minutes of meditation can be a start until you’re ready to do longer meditation sessions.
9. Look for Deeper Meanings
You may have gone through suffering, but noticing what lessons you have learned can facilitate post-traumatic growth. Positive changes, new opportunities and gaining “aha” moments happen from each experience that you have been through. Reflecting on patterns and connecting the dots can help you find your purpose.
10. Don’t Forget to Enjoy Yourself
You may be tracking what you’re eating, journaling to express your feelings, and scheduling things that are good for your overall health. Taking these steps for your well-being is great but make sure you include laughter and relaxing with others since that also decreases stress. Self-care doesn’t have to feel like an extra chore. Fun has its place when managing your health.
There’s no pressure to do all of this at once. Pick what feels the most simple to start with. If you forget to do something and get off the bandwagon – don’t beat yourself up. Did you go to the fast food restaurant today, instead of taking a meal from home? Only got four hours of sleep, because you were busy doing other things? Try to do better next time.
Since all aspects of our health overlap each other, you may find that adding one or two steps to your life will make it easier to do other self-care practices. Exercising regularly can lead you to have more energy to focus on your social life. Making time to connect with friends will help you get out of your head when you’re anxious. Feeling good about yourself emotionally motivates you to eat healthier. At the end of the day, you alone can control how you approach holistic well-being. Start taking action now, and small steps will turn into long-term benefits.