The clock has begun and with just a few days until Christmas, people are on a journey to find the perfect gifts for their loved ones. It can be quite time consuming and even stressful figuring out which gift to buy for your kids, parents or siblings. People can be so busy finding the perfect gifts for others that they’ve probably forgotten one name on their gift list, their own.
The act of generosity has been shown to have several health benefits, but it’s also important to be generous to yourself. This is especially true during the holiday season when anxiety, tension, and added pressure are common.
Self-sacrifice is exactly what it sounds like. It literally means giving yourself a gift and can be an important form of self-care. It can be extremely difficult to give to others when you have neglected your own needs and health.
“Mental health includes emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, act, make choices, and interact with others,” the National Institute of Mental Health website states.
It’s the time of year when it seems like the to-do list is incredibly long and the hours of a day just aren’t enough. In addition to holiday activities, people often have busy work schedules as it becomes necessary to complete certain tasks before the New Year. According to the World Health Organization, exhaustion is one of the signs of fatigue. ‘burnout.
Self-care can help people avoid burnout and make their own health a priority.
“Self-care means taking the time to do things that help you live well and improve both your physical and mental health. When it comes to your mental health, self-care can help you manage stress, reduce your risk of illness, and increase your energy,” states the National Institute of Mental Health website.
Below are three ideas on how you can afford this vacation with self-care and health in mind.
Get yourself a pet
Pets are wonderful companions and are known to lift the spirits of their owners. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dogs are four-legged friends who can help people relieve stress and anxiety.
“They influence the social, emotional and cognitive development of children, promote an active lifestyle, provide companionship and have even been able to detect impending epileptic seizures or the presence of certain cancers,” states the website of the CDC.
There is also research on how cats can provide emotional support and build confidence in their owners.
“Cats are also known to aid socialization in older adults and those with physical or mental disabilities,” the CDC’s website states.
According to the CDC, bonding with a pet can help reduce blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and feelings of loneliness. For more information on the health benefits of owning a pet and tips on how to select the right pet for you, visit www.cdc.gov/healthypets/keeping-pets-and-people- healthy/how.html.
Treat yourself to fitness
It’s no secret that regular physical activity and fitness are necessary for a healthy lifestyle. Exercise can help with weight management and reduce the risk of serious diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. There are even immediate benefits from physical activity, which means you can see positive results right away.
“Regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning and judgment skills sharp as you age. It can also reduce your risk of depression and anxiety and help you sleep better,” the site says. CDC website.
You don’t have to wait for New Year’s resolutions to start a fitness program. Make taking care of yourself a priority by buying a gym membership or purchasing fitness equipment to use at home. If you don’t have the funds for a membership or equipment, just make a plan and commit to start moving more. You can increase your physical activity by walking around the neighborhood, choosing to take the steps whenever possible, or finding a free online fitness class.
For more information on physical activity and its benefits, visit www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health.
Give yourself time
Taking time for yourself is a very important aspect of self-care. According to the Mental Health America website, self-care has proven health and social benefits, but most people “only spend 15 minutes a day on health-related self-care.”
Time for me is very important when it comes to being the best version of yourself. Taking time for yourself can be done in different ways. It could simply mean that you get enough sleep every night or that you practice mindfulness every day so you can sort out your emotions.
Your free time can be doing an activity that brings you joy like dancing or learning a new skill like cooking. There’s no exact science to how to take time for yourself, but it’s important to understand what works for you and then do it. For more tips and information on how to take time for yourself, visit mhanational.org/taking-time-yourself.