The past two years have been nothing short of chaotic, but the bright side has been a shift in prioritizing physical and mental health. Self-care has been listed as one of Americans’ top priorities this year.
The traditional idea of “more is better” and #the next day often leads to stress and burnout. By not giving yourself time to recharge, our bodies can be overwhelmed by stress – causing a fight-or-flight reaction – manifesting in impatience, low motivation, and an inability to focus.
Stress can appear in two ways: internally and externally. Think of inner stress as feelings of anticipation, negative thoughts, anger, or fear that subconsciously make you nervous. This can lead to headaches, increased heart rate at rest, high blood pressure, upset stomach, or trouble sleeping. External stress is things in the environment that cause similar disturbances such as excessive exercise, weather, family and friends, noise, air quality, and injuries. A combination of physical and internal stress can lead to poor overall health.
Making time to recover and recharge — through meditation, increased non-exercise activity, structured fitness, and pampering — can have many health benefits. Five to 10 minutes of daily mindfulness activity can positively affect work productivity, alertness, stress levels, memory, resting heart rate, blood pressure, and creativity. Some of my favorite mindfulness activities include breathing exercises, meditation, writing, short walks, and gardening.
Vacations are also a chance to break out of our usual routine and the stresses associated with it. Whether it’s a solo weekend or a week off with loved ones, spending time in a new environment with your phone off is one of the best ways to be more effective, efficient, creative and productive.
When we take care of ourselves, we create the opportunity to be better for others. Setting small portions of time for yourself will help recharge your energy so you can approach each day with a confident and positive attitude.