Do you worry about rising prices, uncertainty, and the lingering effects of the pandemic?
If you do, you’re not alone.
A recent report by the American Psychological Association found that inflation and war have pushed Americans to ‘unprecedented levels’ of stress.
The rise in stress isn’t just unique to the USA, with the World Health Organization reportedly dubbing it as the ‘Health Epidemic of the 21st Century.’
With that in mind, this International Self-Care Day (July 24), we want to give you a few tips and tricks to help you live a healthier lifestyle. (Because if there’s one thing we can do for ourselves during these trying times, it would be self-care.)
If you had access to one thing that can help you relieve stress, is actually backed by science, and best of all, completely free—wouldn’t you want to make use of it?
To those who have never meditated, meditation might seem difficult, something that only cuckoos do. After all, what good can sitting around in silence for a few minutes actually do?
You might be surprised to hear then that meditation has a host of proven benefits, including:
- stress reduction,
- anxiety relief, and
- improved self-image.
Don’t know where to begin? Simply go to a quiet space, close your eyes, and take a few slow breaths. Drop your thoughts and instead focus all your attention on your breathing—breaths going in and out. If your mind wanders, that’s ok; just bring your attention back to your breath. Do this for 5, 10 or however many minutes you like.
Just a few minutes of meditation a day goes a long way.
And if you want more guidance, meditation apps like Headspace, Calm, and Insight Timer can get you from noob to master in no time.
2. Eat healthy
Have you ever heard of the saying: ‘you are what you eat’?
As farfetched as this sounds, the general consensus (among medical professionals, anyway) suggest that it actually might be true.
Multiple studies have found that eating a nutritionally rich, Mediterranean-style diet consisting of fruits and vegetables may improve mental health, making you feel happier over a period of time.
The reverse also runs true. An unhealthy diet made up of processed food that’s high in trans-fat and sugar may increase the risk of depression among other diseases.
So, in a nutshell, if you eat good food, you’ll feel good, and if you eat garbage, you’ll feel like garbage too.
Here’s the good news: eating healthy doesn’t have to be a chore nor cost a fortune. Here are a few irresistibly-yummy superfoods you can easily grab at the grocery store to help improve your mental health:
- Olive oil
- Dark chocolate
3. Sleep well
Hands up, who here actually gets 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night?
Sleep, like eating well, is a necessary part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. In fact, according to health professionals, sleep is so important, that the sleep deprived are more likely to experience:
- loss of productivity and concentration,
- weight gain,
- higher risk of heart disease,
- a weaker immune system, and
- affected mental health.
The amount of sleep needed varies from person to person, but in general, most adults need at least 8 hours of sleep every night.
Now that we’ve established how important sleep is to self-care, let’s address the elephant in the room: what if someone finds it difficult to get to sleep?
Here’s a few simple solutions that might help according to sleep researchers:
- Avoid heavy meals, smoking, caffeine, and alcohol before bed.
- Maintain a regular bed-time schedule.
- Keep your bedroom free from noise, light and excessive temperatures.
- Exercise during the day.
Talking of exercise, why not give walking a try? (And yes, walking is a form of exercise!)
Apart from the benefits in regard to sleep, regular brisk walking can also:
- reduce stress levels,
- support heart health,
- promote weight loss,
- strengthen bones and muscles,
- boost energy and brain function, and
- lift your mood.
Going on walks can help you clear your mind, and if you’re lucky enough to live near scenic parks and places (think Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Glacier National Park), walking also gives you the chance to thrust yourself into nature.
But best of all, walking doesn’t cost a single thing. That means no gym membership fees, no expensive equipment (and absolutely no excuses!).
5. Treat yourself
Last but not least is our most favorite self-care tip of all.
From retail therapy and shopping sprees to manicure, pedicure, and massage spa sessions, it pays to splurge on the things you care about (at least once in a while).
However you want to indulge yourself, we at Opinion Outpost can help.
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Because if there’s one thing you should do this International Self-Care Day, it should be to treat yourself (you deserve it!).