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Food for Thought: Self-Care

Self care is something  we hear a lot about these days, but what does it really mean? And how is it important for health and weight management? According to Oxford dictionaries, self care is the practice of taking action to “preserve or improve one’s own health.” Or how I like to think of it, simply taking the time to do something that makes you feel good. In our busy, modern lives, it can be difficult to fit self care into our schedules. Because of work demands, we may work through our lunch break, skip planned walks with coworkers and then spend all weekend running errands or shuttling kids from soccer practice to piano lessons. But studies have shown that making time for self care is invaluable for our mental, physical and emotional health, and can actually make you more productive at work. Practicing self care can also make you feel better about yourself and may make it easier to stick with other good-for-you behaviors, such as sustaining a healthy diet or exercise routine.

So what does self care look like? It can be different for everyone, but the most important aspect is to find something that YOU enjoy doing. So if you hate yoga, that’s probably not the best routine for you, even if your best friend swears by it. Below are some ideas to help you get started with establishing your own self care practice:

Exercise: Whether it be hitting the gym or simply taking a walk with a friend, making time for purposeful movement that you enjoy can be a great way to practice self care and do some good for your physical well being too.

Cooking: Taking the time to cook a healthful meal is wonderful way to nourish your body and mind.

Leisure activities: Instead of feeling guilty for binge-watching your favorite Netflix show all weekend, give yourself permission to de-stress this way if that feels right for you. Reading a good book is also a wonderful way to escape for a while.

Pampering: Allow yourself to relax by getting a massage or a pedicure, or simply putting on a face mask, and enjoy these simple practices on a regular basis.

Spending time alone: Most of us are constantly surrounded by coworkers, family, friends, even strangers. Take the time each week to do something alone for YOU.

Learn to say “no:” Whether it’s work demands or social events, learning to set boundaries on your time is important. It’s ok to disappoint people sometimes in the face of your own self-preservation.

Sleep: One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to make sure you get adequate sleep time! Make it a priority to shut off all distractions (TV, phone, household chores) at least an hour or two before getting into bed. Set up a good sleep hygiene routine such as taking a hot bath or shower, or curling up with a good book to help you fall asleep comfortably.

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