Health and Wellness
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When you think of self-care, a weekend getaway to a remote, five-star spa may come to mind. Amazing? Yes. Realistic? Probably not.
Even if these things are achievable, doing them on a weekly basis likely isn’t. But self-care doesn’t have to involve time away or even an hour alone in the bathroom. You can still find ways to carve out some “me” time during the day without it being a challenge to do so. And it’s important to do so, as practicing self-care can have a direct impact on your mental health, per the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines self-care as “the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.” This might seem like a tall order, but there are two major categories of self-care to focus on: physical health and emotional health.
Looking after your physical and emotional health doesn’t have to be time-consuming. In fact, meeting your needs in one area can sometimes support the other, too. For example, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), exercise plays a crucial role in mental wellbeing.
Physically active people tend to have lower rates of anxiety and depression than their sedentary counterparts. Even just getting dressed to exercise bolsters a sense of accomplishment. Adding just 30-minutes of exercise per day can improve your physical health by setting you up to make healthier choices throughout the day.
When stress isn’t managed, it can lead to an increased risk of developing mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, as research published in Annals of Psychiatry and Mental Health reveals. The study found that major depressive disorder, impacting 17% of the population, can be caused by elevated cortisol levels in the body, a direct response to prolonged stress. By practicing self-care, you can use tools and strategies to cope and manage stress levels to improve your mental health and lower your risk of disease. Open the app and chat with a nurse to get a wellness + mental health screening visit to help find practical ways to reduce your stress.
One of the biggest physical sabotagers of health is stress. Per NAMI, stress buildup in the body can lead to headaches, fatigue, nausea, achy muscles, and even insomnia. When stress isn’t properly managed, it can develop into chronic stress, leaving the body in a heightened state that can take a toll on respiratory health, heart health, as well as gastrointestinal and reproductive issues. The APA reports that 47% of adults said they lie awake at night because of stress. Lack of sleep can lead to a host of health issues, including weight gain and an increased risk of chronic diseases. Self-care is a way to reduce that stress and with it, improve your mental health, sleep patterns, and overall health and wellbeing.
Rest assured that you don’t need to dedicate a ton of time to self-care if you don’t have it. Self-care can be done in little pockets throughout the day or penciled in at a regularly scheduled time. Pick what works best for you—there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Here are some easy strategies to start implementing more self-care into your life from the NIH:
Over time, you’ll learn what works best for you and your schedule. In the meantime, you can talk to a clinician about your mental and physical wellness and score more self-care advice any time, any where.