There are lots of reasons to care for your health as you age. Whether you are 19 or 60, what you do the next 10-20 years of your life with the health choices that you make will matter more than what you did the last 10. And I am not just speaking about your physical health. How you care for your emotional, mental, and spiritual health will also matter. There is more and more research listing the importance of self-care in today’s world of stress and unhealthy temptation around every corner. The pressures of career, family, and education can be overwhelming at times. I work with many clients that have high pressure 60 hour a week jobs, others who are working on their PhD’s., and many others who combine work, school, and family commitments into a weekly calendar. We all know of the consequence of stress on the body. High blood pressure, heart issues, and other unhealthy outcomes are the result of stress not handled in a healthy manner. Depression also causes us physical problems if not addressed in a healthy way. The outcome is similar to stress on the body and will eventually lead to coronary artery disease, stroke, diabetes, and some forms of cancer. Stress, depression, and anxiety can even increase some people’s chances of developing dementia and other mental disorders prematurely. Thankfully there are healthy options to help those who are suffering from too much stress, depression, and anxiety.
Not Being Judgmental
With my background in mental health, I fully understand that people have different issues in life. I watch people with “great jobs” that are under a tremendous amount of stress who know the importance of self-care but fall short on caring for themselves and live unhappy lives. On the other side of the coin I work with people who have experienced tremendous trauma or loss in life that are happy in all areas of life. I have also studied extensively self-care practices and have found that people who respond in the healthiest ways are similar in many of their daily practices. I have compiled a short list of what I have discovered.
- They all exercise. You do not have to work out with the latest insanity program to practice self-care with exercise. Moderate strength training, walking, hiking, yoga, bicycling, swimming or any other form of healthy exercise can have benefits for the brain, the body, and the physical impacts of stress, anxiety, and depression on the body. Try to get 20-50 minutes of exercise daily and see it as beneficial and you will have a healthier physical response and quality of life as you get older.
- They all do things unrelated to food, drink, or television that bring pleasure. Reading, playing with pets, gardening, helping others, creating something and spending quality time with friends and loved ones will lead to better health in response to life’s stress. Be proactive about doing things that bring you pleasure and you will be healthier in the long run of life.
- They all continue to move forward. Ruminating on past negative life events will serve only negative health consequences. I am not trying to downplay past traumas. There is research where as many as 85% of us have suffered from some sort of trauma. That is almost all of us. Whether you need professional help or are able to accept those portions of your life that have been difficult to go through, it is healthier to move past the things that have happened to you and “give energy” to the present and how you can be successful with good health and happiness for the future.
- They all are resilient. Everyone that I have witnessed respond to life in healthy ways all understand that things happen in life that we would not like to happen. People who are the best with self-care continue to “get back on” no matter how many times they have fallen off. And you can too.
If you continue to struggle in areas of your life that you wish to change for the sake of happiness and health then I beg you to do so beginning today. What you do today can affect you in a positive or negative manner when it comes to your health. Your health impacts those who love you and how happy you will be as you age. Treat yourself with care and your physical health will respond with the quality of life you deserve. And you do deserve to BE YOUR OWN MIRACLE!