By Scharmaine Lawson, FNP-BC, PMHNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN
If you’ve read any magazines lately or had the pleasure of hearing a podcast, you know self-care is all the rage these days. From fitness enthusiasts to life coaches — and even your nurse practitioner (NP) — everyone stresses the importance of putting yourself first.
You might ask, what is self-care really? Can it help someone already dealing with a health condition?
Research shows that self-care, when translated into effective self-management, can help people with chronic conditions avoid behaviors that could be potentially harmful to their long-term well-being and speed up recovery.
In short, when you’re tempted to have that third serving of pecan pie with the gooey filling, but you fight the urge and stick to your dietary plan, you’re taking the rewarding route of self-care and are on your way to better health management.
In addition to exercising very impressive self-control, here are some other effective self-care practices your NP would be very happy to see you incorporate into your daily life:
Take Care of Your Body (as much as you can)
Your body has a very strong connection to your mind; when you take care of it, chances are that you’ll think and feel better.
Remember to listen to and respond to your body’s needs; get adequate sleep, eat healthily, exercise as much as possible, attend health care appointments and, as advised by your health care provider, take prescribed medications on time. These are all very important parts of good physical self-care.
Build a Team
Health care providers and dietitians are the experts you’d need on your team to help you feel better, but it’s your close connections who make the real impact when it comes to ensuring your emotional well-being.
Invest time and effort into building a strong connection with your family, friends and loved ones, and make sure to nurture your relationship with them.
Check in With Yourself
When your inner dialogue is one of self-criticism and negativity, it can be very hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Mental self-care is a crucial part of staying mentally healthy and happy. Practice self-compassion and acceptance by carving out time each day to ask yourself how you’re doing. Get involved in activities that are mentally stimulating and fascinating.
This could involve reading books, watching movies, solving puzzles — and anything that your health care provider says is safe and beneficial for you. Additionally, this can be accomplished by writing positive affirmations to yourself every day. Try placing tiny notes of encouragement around your home, so everywhere you turn, you will see positive thoughts that will begin to train your mind to be happy.
When you make an effort to incorporate the effective self-care practices mentioned above, you’re more likely to see reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety, improved happiness and stronger interpersonal relationships! If you need more guidance on speeding up your recovery and feeling better, reach out to your NP or other health care provider. They’d be very happy to help!