Self-Care Improves Health

Surprisingly Simple Self-Care Strategies Improve Health and Happiness

How much time do you dedicate to taking care of yourself these days?  In a world where we are constantly on the go, how difficult or time-consuming something is can make a big difference in whether or not we make it a priority.  If self-care seems like a luxury your schedule can’t afford, there are some simple strategies for ensuring better health and happiness, no matter how busy or tired you are. 

Something to smile about

Brushing our teeth and flossing are things we do to make ourselves presentable, but you might be surprised to learn dental health and mental well-being are closely intertwined.  In fact, some studies indicate that about 60 percent of adults with poor oral hygiene also suffer from mental illnesses, such as depression, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and anxiety.  It seems not keeping up with dental care can contribute to mental health concerns, so it makes sense to ensure you stay on track. If you’re a senior, you may want to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan if you haven’t already because MA plans (such as those from Aetna) often cover dental care.

Shut down stress

Rushed, stressed, busy, and frazzled are all words we use to describe our lives pretty frequently these days.  Unfortunately, our hectic lifestyle can contribute to reduced mental well-being.  Psych Central explains stress is associated with mood disorders like anxiety and depression, and chronic stress can even alter brain function. 

Thankfully, there are some amazingly simple ways to lower stress levels.  For instance, laughing helps shut down stress hormones, and it naturally encourages feel-good chemistry.  Try watching a favorite sitcom, or streaming a movie that makes you literally laugh out loud.  There are always funny videos to watch on social media, too, so indulge in some things that make you chuckle, and you can be well on your way to better health.

A surprising way to manage your mood and stress levels is to care for your gut. Serotonin, which boosts our mood, is produced in the gut. If your gut isn’t healthy and serotonin levels are low, it can affect how you feel, and your mood may dip. If you’re not eating foods with probiotics (e.g, yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir), it’s a good idea to take a daily probiotic. 

Promote rest and relaxation

It can’t be stressed enough that plenty of sleep and relaxation are vital for your mental health. When you don’t get enough sleep, you become less focused the next day. If you’re struggling in this department, avoid eating right before bed, and focus on relaxing tasks to help prepare your mind and body for sleep. You can try yoga and meditation, or even add lavender oil to a diffuser or bath to help relieve stress.

Somewhat surprisingly, you can use technology to aid your relaxation efforts. There are all sorts of apps that you can download that can help you meditate and practice yoga. There are sleep apps available as well, and some of these apps are free. If you’re going to run and download these apps properly, you’ll need a smartphone that’s up to the task. Many of the latest models offer super-fast performance with a crystal-clear display. If you currently have an aging iPhone, consider the iPhone 11 Pro Max which features high-quality video, lengthy battery life and high-end performance. If you’re an Android fan, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus has a gorgeous screen and a long-lasting battery.

Embrace healthy boundaries

Do you have trouble saying “no” when you’re asked to do something, regardless of whether you want to do it?  An active social life is one thing, but if you are overbooked, or in danger of burning out, it might be time to examine your personal boundaries.  Defending time, energy, space, and ideas can contribute to positive self-value, whereas taking on commitments that drain you, or not setting limits, can lead to exhaustion and dissatisfaction.  If you aren’t sure where you stand, you can take a quiz to better determine whether it’s time to reinforce your boundaries. 

 Even in our busy, complicated world, there are easy ways to be happier and healthier.  Maintain a healthy smile, reduce inflammation, laugh, relax and sleep well, and set better boundaries.  Self-care doesn’t have to be complicated!

Brad Krause

Tina Joyce