Self-Care Action Plan - Feel Better with Exercise and Diet
Self-care. Do you know what that means?
When it comes to life, many individuals pay attention to supporting their friends' and family's physical and mental health... but they completely forget about themselves. Self-care is about paying attention to your health and supporting your own physical and mental health.
For many physical and mental health disorders, self-care is a big part of treatment.
Related - 5 Tips to Control Emotional Eating
But why is it so important?
As the days get more stressful, our self-care falls by the wayside. This is especially true for primary caregivers — they often will put their well-being of overs over themselves. They don't take time for themselves, they eat whatever food they can get their hands on, and they give up sleep to ensure everyone is "taken care of."
That leads to some big problems.
Aspects of Self-Care
What does self-care actually mean? Here are five areas of self-care that you need to start focusing on.
Keeping a sane mind is important. You're going to need to start engaging in activities that help you feel more clear-headed and able to intellectually engage with challenges in your personal and professional life.
Start a reflective journal. Try a new non-work hobby out. Quit being a slave to your phone and turn off email and work notifications outside of work hours. Take time to relax and engage with your positive friends and family.
It's easy to overlook the weight we've packed on. It's easy to overlook why our back hurts, or why we don't have the body we wish we had. You're going to have to start engaging in activities that help improve your fitness and health.
- Create a regular sleep routine
- Try eating healthier foods
- Actually go on a lunch break
- Go for a walk at lunch
- Get exercise before or after work
Engaging in more physical activities you enjoy will cause you to feel compelled to keep going. You won't want to stop.
While many of us want to numb our emotions, it is healthy to experience a full range of emotions. While there are plenty of things in life that beat us down and seems to keep us from being happy, there are things you can do to allow yourself to feel more happy emotions.
Create friendships with supportive non-toxic people. Make a habit of writing three good things you did each day. Things you are proud of. It could be something simple like "I ate a healthy breakfast," or it could be something huge like "I saved someone's life today." Whatever your three things are, write them down. These are personal to you so it doesn't matter how "dumb" or "insignificant" it is.
A win is a win.
Pick up a sport, go to the movies, find a social group to meet up with, and talk to your close friends with how you are coping with work and life demands.
Be open. Be mindful.
Maintaining your spiritual health can be hard, especially when we should have a sense of perspective beyond our day-to-day life. Start meditate and engage in other reflective practices.
Enjoy walks outside while you clear your mind.
Try yoga. Go to church. Find a close friend to reflect with for support. Read up on mindfulness and start improving your life from all sides.
Whether you are introverted or not, we need to maintain healthy, supportive relationships.
Having diversity in your relationships allow you to connect to people outside of work. Prioritize any close relationships you have in life like your partners, family, and non-toxic family members.
Make a better attempt at attending special events, and start getting to work on time.
Develop Your Own Self-Care Plan
For each of the categories above, try one or two strategies or activities. You'll notice there is a bit of overlap between the categories, so it is important to develop a plan that is holistic and individual to you.
What works for one person may not work for you, this is why it is important to tailor your self-care plan for yourself.
Make sure to create a self-care plan with activities you enjoy and will support your wellbeing.
You can find a few examples below. Write the plan down and review it daily to maintain motivation. This will keep it in the front of your mind and will allow you to think about and commit to the strategies in your plan. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Stick to your plan and practice your activities regularly. This is something that needs to become a habit. An athlete doesn't get fit just by thinking about fitness — they have to execute their plan every day. You're going to have to practice and work hard to keep your holistic plan in place.
As time passes by, re-assess how things are going at the end of the month. Take a look at yourself and be realistic about your self-care plan. Are you building new healthy habits? Do you have more "good days" than "bad days?" How are you feeling physically?
Take the time to assess and check in on yourself.
12 Ways to Nourish Your Body and Soul
There are many ways to nourish your mind and body, but here are a few that you could start with.
#1 - Be Physically Active
While hitting the gym and sweating it up may not sound glamorous, exercise can help eliminate stress, boost your mood, elevate your energy levels, and improve your overall health.
You can exercise just about anywhere and you definitely don’t have to be at a gym to get a good session in. A few minutes a day can make a huge difference because all activity counts.
Try thinking of an activity that you enjoy. Do you like riding your bicycle? Do you like going for a walk? What about going hiking?
Try to brainstorm activities that will fit into your lifestyle. If you have a lot of meetings, try a walking meeting. Set up an exercise bike in your kitchen or dance around while you clean. Take the stairs when you have the option — you can burn a significant amount of calories.
If you need to go to the grocery store, try using a handbasket — every extra step and movement matters.
#2 - Exercise Improves Your Mood
When you perform physical activity, your brain stimulates chemicals that leave you feeling more relaxed and happier. Exercise will give everyone a boost, especially for those who have symptoms of depression and anxiety.
#3 - Exercise Boosts Your Energy
Performing physical activity regularly improves your muscle strength, endurance, and improves the oxygen and nutrient levels in your tissues — allowing your cardiovascular system to work more efficiently.
When your heart and lungs are more efficient, it means you have more energy for daily activities.
#4 - Exercise Adds Spark to Your Sex Life
Since exercising leaves you energized, in a better mood, and feeling better about your body, it could have a positive effect on your sex life. Physical activity has been suggested to enhance arousal for women and help prevent erectile dysfunction in men.
#5 - Exercise Promotes Better Sleep
A lot of individuals have a hard time getting to sleep. Regular physical activity could help you fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply. Try to exercise earlier in the day so you have at least a few hours before bed to wind down.
#6 - Exercise Prevents and Combats Diseases
It is well-known that regular physical activity can help prevent or manage a wide range of health concerns. This includes heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, arthritis, diabetes, and depression.
#7 - Exercise Helps Maintain a Positive Body Image and Healthy Weight
Exercise has been proven to prevent excessive weight gain and has also been shown to help maintain weight loss by stoking your metabolism and burning calories. You’ll feel better about your appearance and experience higher self-confidence.
#8 - Learn to Relax
What comes to your mind when it comes to relaxing? Do you have to be on a beach with a cocktail?
There are many different ways we can cope with our stress and relax. Exercise, reading a book, listening to music, or “unplugging” from the internet and your phone are all ways to reduce your stress levels.
You could try stress journaling to get an understanding of what is bringing you stress in life, and how to address that stress.
#9 - Eat Healthier Foods
An easy way to improve our overall health, sleep, and energy levels is to eat a wide variety of healthy foods. This doesn’t mean every meal needs to be a salad... but making better food choices will help.
Start logging your food and evaluate your food choices. Where could you improve? What could you live without? Don’t be afraid to compromise — you can eat your cake as long as it is a reasonable serving and the rest of your calories come from nutritious foods.
Using an 80/20 rule can help you get a grip on your eating while still enjoying your favorites. If 80% of your calories for the day come from nutritious sources, the last 20% can come from anything.
For example, if you have a 2,000 calorie diet, 1,600 calories should come from fresh fruits, vegetables, and protein, while the remaining 400 calories can come from your chips, cupcake, or whatever you want.
#10 - Find Ways to Calm Your Mind
All of the stress in our lives can really weigh us down. The difference is how we let those stressors affect us.
Sure, meditation works, the relaxation response works, and yoga works… but what about for the people who stare blankly at the thought of meditation? There are plenty of other calming activities like coloring, knitting, cooking, walking, swimming, and any other quiet and peaceful activity you enjoy.
Open a book, do some stretching before bed, or listen to some soothing music in a warm bubble bath. There is no wrong answer.
#11 - Get Enough Sleep
In a world of who can sleep the least, many of my friends and coworkers like to brag about their lack of sleep. While the amount of sleep you need is different for everyone, it’s simply not worth staying up late watching Netflix or gaming.
Depriving yourself of sleep causes irritability, your cognition is poor, you will have impaired reflexes and response times, and it can also lead to depression and anxiety.
Try creating a short and easy bedtime routine and find what helps you get ready for bed. Some light stretching, prayer, or a book may be relaxing. Put down your phone or computer and watch alcohol before bed — all of these can interfere with sleep and have been suggested as a common cause of nighttime or early-morning awakening.
#12 - Stay Motivated
You’re not going to have motivation every day, but if you make self-care a goal and try to address everything regularly, you will start to feel and function better.
As we start feeling better, it will become easier to carry on the day-to-day tasks while allowing yourself time for you.
It’s a win-win.
#13 - Make it Fun
It’s possible to enjoy exercise and make it fit into your lifestyle. Start by checking out what different athletics programs around you. Take walks around a wildlife sanctuary, take a hike, or turn on some good tunes and bike the day away.
Use your imagination.
#14 - Mix Things Up
Instead of sticking to one thing, try adding in a variety of activities to mix things up. This allows you to work different muscle groups and stay interested in different activities.
You never know what your new physical activity could be.
#15 - Find a Partner
Make exercising social and find a workout partner. They can help you stay committed and hold you accountable more than you can. Along with that, it can be fun if you have a friend with you.
#16 - Make Time For You
Many of us have very busy schedules and it keeps us from getting the exercise we know we need. Instead of opting for the “all in or nothing” approach, know that any activity is better than none.
If you can’t make it for the 45-minute sweat session you originally intended, know that the 15-minute walk is better than nothing at all. You may start getting out of bed earlier to exercise so you can enjoy the mood and energy boost for the rest of the day.
#17 - Make it a Commitment
You have to make things a commitment. Put some money into some new clothes or a class, block out time on your calendar, and start making exercise a priority.
Setting specific goals for yourself could help keep you motivated to keep pushing through the week.
#18 - Learn to Manage Your Time
One of the biggest reasons many are stressed is due to poor time management. The 20-minute facebook breaks or season-long Netflix binges are not helping you achieve your goals.
Start using your time wisely, stop procrastinating, and start achieving the goals you’ve set out for yourself.