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Caring for our bodies

Guide to self-development (Part 9)

Photographs: Unsplash

Text: Aina Masood

There is an intrinsic link between physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Your mind reaps the benefits of you nourishing your physical self. In other words, our state of mind affects our body; likewise, any problems with our physical bodies impact our mental health. This guide to self-development would not be complete if we missed out on talking about how we should take care of our physical selves.

Why should you take care of your body?

To answer this simple question, let me ask you to take a moment and list some things your body helps you achieve throughout the day. This little exercise is potent in reminding us that our bodies are wonderful; nourishing them is of utmost importance. Conversely, the adverse effects of poor physical health include an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and some forms of cancer. These adverse effects are far-reaching and can poorly impact our emotional and mental well-being.

How can we take care of your physical health?

When deciding how to take care of your body, you might sometimes be faced with situations where you are used to doing things a certain way, and now, it is not working out nicely for you. You can refer to the following three questions when faced with a similar situation.

What do I want to do?

This relates to how you feel about doing something and helps you identify what you are comfortable with. This might not be the best choice, but you resort to it because of familiarity, ease, or because it helps you feel safe or brings comfort. For example, what time you sleep, how much time you spend on social media, what exercises you do etc.

"There is an intrinsic link between physical, mental, and emotional well-being."

What is best for me?

Here, we are trying to bring in reason and ask what our thoughts are. This is also when we would consider facts and what we know is good/bad for us. For example, wanting to scroll for hours because we feel like it is helping us relax but knowing that it is better to limit this activity and not help you relax.

What am I going to do?

This is the final step in deciding what we will do in each situation. Here, we are trying to bridge a gap between what we want to do and what we think is best for us. Try to balance what you want with what you think you should do. For example, wanting to scroll for hours and knowing it is not the best decision, you can make a timed decision where you do this activity for 15 minutes and set an intention as to why it is helpful and what you want to achieve out of it.

I would highly recommend you use this decision-making technique in your everyday life. First, try focusing on the following three significant areas of self-care as you ask yourself the questions mentioned above.

Rest, sleep, and play: Giving your body ample sleep every night and moments of rest and play during the day is scientifically proven to be good for us. Different people need different hours of night sleep, and the quality of your sleep also matters. Generally, we need 7-9 hours of night sleep to feel fully rested. This helps us feel fresh and better at dealing with everyday stressors. During the day, relaxing and engaging in play help us rejuvenate. Research has shown that it helps us feel more energetic, stimulates creativity and brain activity, and releases endorphins. You can refer to this article to learn more about how to add ‘play’ to your life.

Nutrition: Small steps matter. If you don’t already, try to add fruits and vegetables to your diet. Add supplements and multivitamins, depending on what your physician recommends. Changes in what you eat result in an increase in your energy levels and boost your immunity. It is also essential that you enjoy what you are eating, so learn recipes that you want to make and are fulfilling in taste and nutrients. It is also recommended to eat in smaller portions and to maintain a balanced diet which means having enough proteins, fibre, carbohydrates, and fats in your meals.

Movement: Build a habit of moving your body every day. It could be a 20-minute walk or half an hour of low-intensity workouts. It could be an hour of yoga or going for a run. You can do longer or shorter sessions if you move your body and have fun. Find what works best for you and ease yourself into it.

Conclusively, it is a long journey you can set on by doing little things daily. Remember to be patient because it has many short- and long-term benefits. Don’t be too hard on yourself and continue working towards taking care of your body to the best of your ability, and I can assure you it will benefit your physical and mental well-being.

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