SELF-CARE IS LIFE-SAVING.
As you’re getting comfortable in your airline seat thinking about what you’ll be doing at your final destination, the flight attendant comes on the speaker to review the flight safety rules. “Place your oxygen mask on first before assisting others,” they say. You may be thinking, “This seems selfish,” or, “How could I possibly worry about my oxygen mask first when my child is sitting next to me?” Surely you must ensure their safety first! While looking after the safety of a child or loved one is critically important, consider the consequences if you are unable to help them because you are not receiving enough oxygen to function.
This concept is used often in self-care circles, and justifiably so. You can’t care for others if your own well-being is not intact. At Bela Family Dentistry of White Knoll, we care for your total body health because when that’s in harmony your smile is brightest—and we sure do love seeing you smile!
WHAT DOES SELF-CARE MEAN TO YOU?
Self-care can look different for everyone. For example, some people may prefer to sit quietly and read a book while others find rejuvenation in getting together with friends. Sometimes it’s both, just at different times, depending on what your needs are. The key is to be mindful of what you’re feeling and to identify how you can help fill that need, then make sure you create the space to do so. Just like many things, self-care works best with regular and consistent implementation. Be proactive rather than reactive.
HOW DO YOU BEGIN TO IMPLEMENT SELF-CARE?
As the winter hibernation comes to an end and the spring renewal begins, you may be gearing up for a renewal of your own. Many people use the changing of the seasons as an opportunity to clarify their goals and visions for their life, while also cleansing their living spaces. Spring cleaning might seem like a modern compulsion of Americans to counter the consumerist culture, but it actually has roots in ancient societies.
Self-care can take many forms in mind, body, and spirit. Here are eight self-care tips for spring to get you started on your renewal journey:
1. START SMALL.
Make one small change to your diet that will positively impact your health. Eating a nutritious and balanced diet can affect your health and mood as well as protect against diseases and health risks linked to unhealthy diets. Take a look at this resource for healthy eating habits and determine where you can make changes. Start by making simple changes like drinking more water or adding one more serving of vegetables a day. Once you’ve successfully got into those habits, add another one. Pretty soon you will have totally transformed your nutrition for the better.
Practice relaxation techniques to reduce stress and have a better quality of life. If you’re constantly stressed, your body is releasing a stress hormone called cortisol, which contributes to some disease and mood disorders. Be proactive with stress and schedule time to relax, even if you don’t feel stressed (hence the proactive approach.) Relaxation techniques can include meditation, yoga, massage, aromatherapy, and anything that calms your muscles, eases your mind, and settles you into a relaxed state. Relaxation has many benefits, including decreased blood pressure, pain relief, and improved immune and cardiovascular systems.
3. INVEST IN YOURSELF.
Invest more time in your hobby or find one if you don’t currently have one. Spending time on a hobby you enjoy has many psychological and physical benefits. According to Psychology Today, hobbies can help you structure time, promote the flow state (being totally immersed in something), boost social connections, and cope with stress. So whether it be a sport, knitting, gardening, cooking, painting, or something else, make time for your hobby.
4. GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO SAY NO.
Manage stress by learning to say no. If you are constantly overcommitted, or your commitments are in conflict with the time you have or your values, this internal discord will cause stress levels to rise (see #2). Set some boundaries and get clear on what you are and aren’t willing to do or spend time on so that you can confidently guard your time and space.
5. WHAT ARE YOU THANKFUL FOR?
Practice daily gratitude. Research shows that gratitude is strongly associated with increased happiness because it helps people to feel positive emotions and to relish good experiences. This mindful practice helps people to see the goodness in their lives and connect to something larger than themselves such as nature, other people, or spirituality. The result is improved health and ability to deal with stress.
6. CLEAN OUT YOUR CLOSET. YOUR MENTAL ONE, THAT IS.
Get rid of mental clutter by writing a to-do list. Writing a to-do list is scientifically proven to be effective at providing structure, reducing anxiety, and motivating action. So if there are a few household things or random to-dos you’ve had lurking in your mind for a while, write them down, do them, and check them off your list.
7. DO THAT THING YOU’VE REALLY BEEN WANTING TO DO.
Treat yourself! There’s something so satisfying about taking time for yourself to enjoy a little pampering. This could mean a massage, a trip to the salon or spa, or getting a professional whitening treatment. As you’ve already read here and as studies show, treating yourself can be a form of relaxation that has huge benefits.
8. INVEST IN YOUR HEALTH.
Invest in your oral health. We’re not just saying this because we’re dentists; this is one of the most important things you can do for your body. Science has shown there is an oral–systemic link, which means dental problems like periodontal disease cause or contribute to whole-body illness such as cardiovascular disease, bacterial pneumonia, diabetes, and low birth weight. Taking care of your teeth and oral health isn’t just about looking good—it affects your entire body and arguably your mind too since dental disorders negatively affect self-esteem.
To make sure your oral health is in optimal condition, visit Bela Family Dentistry of White Knoll twice a year for professional cleanings and exams. If you’re interested in a smile makeover to treat yourself, we have the treatments for you!