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For some reason or another, people roll their eyes at the term self-care. But really, we should all be talking about self-care and bragging about how we prioritize our wellbeing rather than feeling ashamed or embarrassed. Because without implementing the proper self-care techniques, we are nowhere close to becoming our best selves or living our best lives.

Hypnotherapist Jacqui Blue explains the worker bee mindset many of us maintain: “It’s so easy to get wrapped up in our careers, families, social activities, and the drama attached to all of it, that we easily burnout, feel overwhelmed, stressed, and exhausted. rarely do we take a moment to slow down and take a deep breath when we really need to. Our modern busy-body society has led us to believe that there’s no time to rest; we must be ‘good little worker bees that just work-work-work’ all day long, from dusk till dawn, until the day we die.” Ultimately, however, we’ve got to listen to our worn out bodies and minds and take good care of them.

So, how might one do that? There are a ton of effective self-care strategies out there—such as journaling and practicing positive affirmations—but there are two main practices vital to your wellbeing: exercising and eating well. Prioritize these and you’ll quickly find yourself a few steps closer to a happier, healthier you.

Treat Your Body Like a Temple

First, make it your goal to treat your body like the temple that it is. Of course it’s okay to splurge on those potato chips and that tub of cookie dough ice cream every now and again, but it’s super important you nourish your body with the proper nutrients. “A healthy body is a body better able to combat stress,” Rob Cole, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, explains. In addition, eating well can help to boost cognitive functioning and reduce harmful symptoms of depression, anxiety, and many other mental illnesses. So, what does a healthy diet look like? Here are a few guidelines Cole says you should follow:

  • Limit your intake of sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.
  • Avoid processed foods with a lot of artificial ingredients and preservatives.
  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water daily. A dehydrated body is a low-energy body.
  • Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables with the proper combination of carbs, protein, and healthy fats.

My guess is that your relationship with food is constantly evolving. And that’s okay! While the above tips are certainly great rules of thumb, a diet that works for one person might not be best for someone else. There are so many factors that cause this variation, such as one’s height weight, lifestyle, and goals. For example, my friend found that she just couldn’t function on a low-carb diet. She needed more carbs (the good ones of course), while I felt a million times better without a lot of carbs. This probably had a lot to do with our differing lifestyles, not to mention that our bodies just aren’t the same. So, while it might take some experimenting, there is an optimal diet for you and your goals. But Cole’s tips above are sure to put you on the fast path to health and success.

Get Moving: Benefits and Tips

Now onto the second tier of prioritizing and improving your health: exercising. “Physical exercise promotes overall fitness, as well as manages emotional stress and tension,” says Cole. “A combination of cardio exercises (activities that increase the heart rate such as running, spinning, swimming, or walking) and strength training (working the muscles using resistance such as weights or using your own body weight as resistance as in yoga and Pilates) has been found to be the most effective for both the body and mind. You can…

  • Join a gym
  • Walk your dog
  • Play tennis or another sport
  • Go on a hike
  • Do yoga
  • Run with a friend
  • Take a dance class

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you genuinely like what you’re doing. “Choose an activity you enjoy, not one that you dread,” Cole says. “And remember: if you have any existing medical conditions, consult your doctor before starting any new and rigorous exercise.” As with finding the right diet for you, it might take some time for you to find the best exercise program for you. Lucky for you, the opportunities are endless. So get out there and take them for a test run! Soon enough, you’ll have a newfound love for going to the gym, playing basketball, or maybe even salsa dancing!

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