Practicing Self-Care

By none on July 25, 2008

Deep breathing, nutrition, and exercise are key to physical and emotional well being. Keywords: self-care, balance, holistic, holistic health, emotional mental spiritual, feelings, thoughts, attitudes, breathing, nutrition, exercise, deep belly breathing, food, health, endorphins, feel-good hormones, healthy mealsThe better we feel about ourselves, the better care we take of ourselves. We practice self-care by assuming responsibility for our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well being. Let’s scratch the surface with the physical self and delve into the other dimensions of health in the near future.

The body has many ways to maintain and restore balance when it is lost. An important principle of holistic health is we cannot separate our physical health from our emotional, mental, and spiritual states of being. All levels are interconnected. This means, when we have a physical imbalance, it helps to tune in to our feelings, thoughts, and attitudes to see what is going on. Our physical body is very wise and is always communicating with us through feelings like happiness, pain, anxiety, and sadness.

Our physical well-being is enhanced by proper breathing, nutrition, and exercise. Breathing is necessary for life. Every time we breathe, we inhale oxygen. When insufficient fresh air reaches our lungs, our blood is not properly purified or oxygenated. Digestion is affected, and our organs and tissues become under-nourished and begin to deteriorate. Poorly oxygenated blood contributes to high anxiety states, depression and fatigue. Breathing exercises are effective in reducing anxiety, depression, irritability, muscular tension and fatigue. I will describe a breathing technique known as deep belly, or diaphragmatic, breathing. This is how we breathed when we were babies.

Deep Belly Breathing

This technique can be practiced either lying down or sitting up in a chair with your spine straight. If lying down, bend your knees and move your feet about eight inches apart.

  1. Begin by scanning your body for tension and make a mental note of where the tension is. Start at the head area and make your way down to your feet.

  2. Place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest.

  3. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose and into your stomach, inflating it like a balloon. Allow your breath to rise up to your shoulders like a wave, filling in your entire chest area. Exhale through your mouth, allowing your breath to fall out of your body with a sigh. Breathing out through the mouth releases tensions and emotions.

  4. Continue to take long, slow, deep breaths that raise and lower your abdomen and chest. Focus on the sound and feeling of breathing, as you become more and more relaxed.

  5. Continue deep breathing for about five or ten minutes at a time, once or twice a day, for a couple of weeks. Then, if you like, you can extend this period to 20 minutes a day.

Nutrition

Nutrition plays a key role in our health. Research has shown certain diseases like cancer, heart disease, and blood pressure are linked to the foods we eat. When we value our body, we pay attention to how we treat it.

Sometimes women neglect their diets when they are single, after their children have moved out, or after their partner has left or died. Often I hear comments such as "I am only one person, it doesn't pay to bother." Many of these women prepared nutritional meals when they had someone living at home to cook for. Now that they live alone, they do not want to bother. The message they project is: "I am not important enough to fuss over." Where does this message come from, and why is it there?

Women have been conditioned to take care of others, often to the detriment of ourselves. Nurturing and honoring ourselves means we consider ourselves important individuals. We deserve to take care of ourselves, the same as we did for our children, spouses/partners, and parents. And we are the only ones who can do so. Consider food preparation for yourself as an aspect of self-love. What are your favorite foods? Allow yourself to use more than one pot to prepare it. Set the table with your favorite dishes. Have a banquet for yourself where you are the special guest of honor. Every time you do this, you internalize the message: “I am deserving of such treatment.”

A healthy meal plan is very simple. It consists of eating a variety of vitamin rich foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, small amounts of lean meat and fish, beans and nuts. In addition, decrease your sugar and salt intake and drink enough water daily to stay hydrated.

Exercise

The benefits of exercise have been well documented. Physical exercise improves heart function and reduces diseases like arthritis, rheumatism, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Exercise helps maintain intellectual functioning by increasing oxygen to the brain. It strengthens bones, reduces stress and anxiety, and improves sleep. Active individuals are less likely to be depressed. Exercise also releases chemicals in the brain called endorphins which are considered the body's natural pain relievers and feel-good hormones. Research shows that exercise slows, and can reverse, the effects of aging. It is important the type of exercise you do is right for you.

People who feel worthy and deserving treat their bodies like a "temple." Their temple needs to be honored, respected, cared for, and not taken for granted. In so doing, they give themselves an important message of self-love.

More on Mind & Mental Health from Naturally Savvy


By none| July 25, 2008
Categories:  Restore

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