What does Self-Care Look Like?
February 5, 2024
by Danielle Ross, R.H.N. (www.foodandsoul.ca)
Self-Care Guide – My Top 5 Tips To Supporting Your Mental Wealth
As much as I love summer and had some really great times, this one was really tough for me. I felt like a few areas of my life all came crashing down at once and “fight, flight, or freeze” mode kicked in and I was somewhere between “flight and freeze”. I found myself bottling up all my emotions, I was a frequent flyer in the ice cream section, and I made a really good dent in my couch cushions and filled up my PVR with trashy tv recordings. I couldn’t figure out why time just wasn’t making things feel better, until one day the gentle voice in my head reminded me of a few simple actions that I could do to help support my nervous system and help get me out of my funk! Because in retrospect I had stopped doing these daily practices and once I started implementing them I noticed a world of difference. It was a good reminder to me that practicing self-care daily isn’t always easy, but for my physical and mental wealth it’s definitely necessary!
What does self-care mean?
- Fuel your body: What you eat can change how you feel.
- Move your body!
- Write it down: Grab a pen and put your thoughts on paper!
- Do something you love doing: Bring some joy to your day!
- Prioritize your rest and sleep
The food that we put in our bodies directly effects how we feel. The gut-brain axis is so strong that not only does every cell in our body listen to our thoughts but they also live off of what we eat.
Adding foods that are high in antioxidants (berries, bell peppers, green tea), omega-3’s (salmon, avocados, nuts/nut oil) , and B vitamins (oats, hibiscus tea, kale, sweet potato and eggs) daily is a great way to support your nervous system.
Yes, eating that bowl of ice cream is going to give you that hit of dopamine that makes you feel warm and happy, but it’s a quick fix and it wont last, not to mention the crash we get from our blood sugar afterwards! (Don’t get me wrong there is ALWAYS a time and place for ice cream) If you’re already feeling a little low, why not try some yogurt with berries and a splash of maple syrup?
2. Move your body!
Moving your body helps get your blood flowing, oxygen pumping and can release endorphins (can help relieve pain, reduce, and boost your mood). Other side effects from moving your body may be increased sense of accomplishment, self-esteem, improved mood and increase feelings of energy.
Just 30 minutes a day can help boost your mood, if that seems a bit overwhelming at first, start with a 10 minute walk around the block and add 5 minutes each day!
3. Write it down: Grab a pen and put your thoughts on paper!
This is one of my FAVOURTIE tips and something that ALWAYS helps me! I unintentionally spend 1/2 my day in my own head, planning things, worrying about things, sorting out my Christmas shopping that’s still 3 months away, or overthinking what I said to someone 2 weeks ago. Every night before I go to bed I try and set aside 5 minutes to “just write”. Some nights I just simply write about my day and others I may have something that I need to get off my chest and 4 pages later I’m heading to bed. But what this does for me, is it gets it out of my head.
4. Do something you love doing: Bring some joy to your day!
This one doesn’t need a lot of instructions, but whatever you decide to do make sure that it is something that makes your heart happy and your face smile!
5. Prioritize your rest and sleep
Did you know that how you feel during the day partially depends on what happens while you sleep. While you’re sleeping your body is working to support healthy brain function and allows your body to repair itself from the stresses of the day. We are ideally aiming for 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Often times when your body is overtired it is operating in “fight of flight” mode causing your cortisol and blood sugar levels to be imbalanced and can also affect how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others.
Letting your body rest and repair itself is a pretty big gift that you can give yourself.