“I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.” — Audre Lorde
With the current busy lifestyle and myriad responsibilities, aren’t most of us guilty of getting carried away and forgetting to stop, and check-in with our own selves? Self-care is extremely important, not just for the body but also for the mind. Caring for yourself does not mean you’re selfish or indulgent. It only means you respect your body and mind and are doing what is right for you. There is no need to feel guilty about giving yourself the same love and care that you extend to others.
Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.
Self-care becomes increasingly important as we age. A little bit of extra attention will go a long way in helping you handle stress and loneliness better, prevent or manage illness better and have a more positive mindset. Isn’t a healthy and happy life a worthwhile reward for a few minutes of self-care?
Self-care for the body
For people of all ages, exercise has innumerable benefits like weight management, strengthening and improving flexibility. However, one you are older, being physically active brings additional benefits like lowering the risk of chronic diseases, reducing chances of injury, decreasing stress hormones and improving psychological well-being.
- What is an activity that you thoroughly enjoy? Start with that. It does not have to be very strenuous. You could begin by taking a walk in the park daily, walking your dog, signing up for a yoga class or even taking up gardening. The key is finding something that you truly enjoy and being consistent and committed to the activity. Aim for at least 30 minutes for a minimum of 5 days a week.
- Another aspect of self-care is to ensure that you’re working with your doctor to get regular health checkups. These checkups are an absolute must even if you’re healthy. The results of these tests will help keep a tab on your existing conditions and guide the treatment plan, assess the risk for future problems and work on a plan to manage them.
- Don’t forget about your food. You need to balance physical activity with nutritious food. Eating a wholesome meal that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats, is an important factor in your fitness journey. Don’t overlook it. Eat your meals on time and in proper quantity.
A healthy, active body will help you lead an energetic and independent life. It is never too late to get fit!
Self-care for the mind
Health is not only about your body. How many of us think about our minds? However, staying socially engaged and mentally active is just as important. There is a lot of scientific research to prove this, especially as we age.
Here are some ways to nurture your emotional and mental health:
- Get involved in social and community activities. For example, joining a book club, worship group or laughter yoga to build social interactions. Keep in touch with friends, neighbours and extended family to form meaningful, fulfilling relationships.
- Ensure you’re getting adequate family time. Spending time with children and looking after grandchildren will help strengthen relationships. At the same time, it will make you feel needed and valued while improving self-esteem.
- Practice mindfulness, meditation, and self-reflection. This has shown to decrease stress, help preserve and improve cognitive function, reduce blood pressure and an array of other health benefits.
- Indulge in the arts, be it music, dance or drawing. Join a class, watch videos online to pick up a new hobby or improve an existing one. Going to the art gallery, checking out museum exhibits or watching a play or a concert counts too!
- Sleep well so that your body and mind can function at their best. A good night’s rest will make you refreshed and re-energized for the next day. Identify things that prevent restful sleep and try to correct them. For example, watching TV before going to bed, medicines that interfere with sleep patterns and stress are things to be considered.
Mental and physical well-being is important no matter what your age is. But as we grow older, we need to be a little more mindful about the holistic self-care of our body, mind, and spirit to lead a full life. After all, you’re only as old as you feel!
After years of taking care of your kids, take some time for the most important person in your life – Yourself. You deserve it!
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