If you're anything like me during this pandemic, I have been researching anything and everything that could help boost my mood to help me through the day. The lockdowns, quarantines, and the emotional rollercoaster of the past 21 months have undoubtedly taken a toll on us all.
The Importance of Self Care
As I searched for answers time and time again, I kept coming across the term self-care. When most people hear self-care, they might imagine taking a bubble bath or a long relaxing day at the spa getting a massage. While these are some examples, other more basic activities sometimes are more important than just taking the time to relax.
Self-care can also look like mediation, deep breathing, yoga, or even more strenuous exercise. Some days it may mean making sure you're drinking enough water. Another, it could mean taking a break during the workday to step outside for a breath of fresh air. There are also times it may mean skipping the news or taking a break from your social circle to filter out the negativity of world events.
The Impact of Exercise
We have all heard before that there is a direct correlation between exercise and mental health. Physical activity is one of the best forms of self-care we can offer to our body and mind. When you are looking for a quick way to boost your mood, get up and get walking.
Cardio doesn't just burn calories. It can also help reduce stress and set you up for a more productive day. Taking the time for a walk to clear your mind is just as helpful as an afternoon cup of coffee.
Strength Training the Body & Mind
Another way to support your mental health is through an exercise that people often overlook. Strength training is a great tool that we can use that naturally reduces symptoms of stress, anxiety, and combat depression. It will also have a positive effect on your self-esteem which will help boost your overall mood.
When you hear strength training, sometimes you think of lifting heavy weights or using weight machines at the gym. While this is true, strength training you can accomplish by using resistance bands to work your core, target specific muscle groups, or while you perform lunges, push-ups, or pull-ups. Resistance bands are light and compact and are perfect when you need to sneak in a workout during a busy day.
The Importance of Sleep
One of the most valuable benefits we get out of a workout is improved sleep. Physical rest is one of the most important acts of self-care that we can give to ourselves. Good quality sleep is essential not only for your mental and physical health, but it helps to boost your immune system and can lead to increased energy and concentration.
Even though physical activity is proven to improve the overall quality of our sleep, most of us are too busy caught up in day-to-day life to recognize when we are not getting enough sleep. A good workout will almost always ensure that we get a great night's sleep.
Most Importantly, Listen to your Body
Being mindful of our decisions and listening to what our bodies need, dedicating time to physical activity will also lead to other health benefits. Aside from maintaining weight and improving our immune system and sleep, physical activity also aids in the lowering of blood pressure and improved brain function.
If we have learned anything as this pandemic goes on, it's that anything we can do to preserve and protect our overall health is the best type of self-care we can give to ourselves.