Practicing self-care doesn’t have to be intimidating.
What if self-care isn’t a luxury at all but the only way to get anything done with truly lasting value? What if all of our excuses that we are “too busy” and “spread too thin” are actually just self-sabotage?
As everyone who begins to practice self-care realizes, the result is often an uncomfortable closeness to our real selves. For example, meditating often silences the chatter and allows us to hear our own inner voice, which is something we might not be used to. But self-care also leads to wholeness, better decision-making, clarity of mind, and more kindness toward others.
So, for the sake of kindness and wholeness, here are 10 ways to practice self-care this fall.
We can’t say enough about regular exercise. Cardio reduces both inflammation and blood pressure. Dentists are, of course, not huge fans of inflammation, as it can cause increased issues with periodontitis when it occurs elsewhere in your body. The reverse is also true. Strength-training reduces blood sugar swings, protects your spine from injury, and burns calories while you sleep. Stretching does things we’re only beginning to understand, including increasing the ability to strength train more efficiently.
You don’t have to commit to twenty or even fifteen minutes a day. As little as ten minutes a day boosts your metabolism, fights inflammation, and gives your brain a much-needed clarity boost.
Rest is underrated. This generation of “work hard for your dreams” and “be your own boss” solopreneurs, while inspiring, is also stressed out and exhausted. It’s much worse when we choose to power through sickness with over-the-counter medicines and coffee.
Get a full eight hours of sleep at night as much as possible. In addition, find one way to rest during the day. Even if you are completely indispensable every minute of the day, choose to take a walk, turn out your office lights, rest your head, or meditate. Many people swear by power naps.
3. Cut back on your sugar intake.
Dentists are no fan of sugar. Sugar causes periodontitis and cavities. And yes, we actually do prefer keeping people’s teeth healthy over performing root canals and placing crowns. Restoration may be a beautiful art and science, but preservation is key.
With that being said, cutting back on sugar is no easy task. Not only is sugar hidden in everything, but many people find the withdrawal symptoms so uncomfortable that they give in. Thankfully, awareness surrounding sugar is growing, and there are multiple communities online offering support for one kind or another of sugar detox. While we don’t endorse one particular kind of diet, we do believe all the good diets have one thing in common: They cut down on processed sugars and simple carbs, and they emphasize proteins, vegetables, and a healthy dose of fruits.
Reading is a form of self-care. Get away from things that flicker and buzz and make you feel like you’re missing out, and get lost in a world that is bigger than your own. It does amazing things for your memory, brain function, and imagination. What to read, you ask? Read whatever you enjoy reading. You can also listen to audiobooks if that’s your thing.
5. Go for a walk.
Walking is one of the easiest and most therapeutic forms of exercise, meditation, and self-care. You are doing so much when you take a walk. You are taking a break from social media (we hope) and your phone (leave it at home), you are getting in touch with nature, you are aligning your spine, you are exercising, and you are giving your thinking mind a break.
Walking burns 80 to 160 calories per mile of walking. That’s not bad, considering how effortless it is for most of us who possess basic health.
6. Express gratitude.
Express gratitude to others. It is good for your soul and theirs. You get a burst of dopamine when you express gratitude or practice kindness, which makes it addictive. Think of a world of people addicted to kindness and gratitude, and you’ll get why this is such an important habit to jumpstart in your life. It doesn’t have to be big. You don’t have to spend a weekend writing thank you notes. Just start giving sincere and non-hurried thanks to your barista, babysitter, spouse, kids, parents, and anyone else who does as little as hold a door for you.
Seriously, though, thank you notes will never go out of style, and they are a great, simple way to show someone you care and appreciate them. So consider writing one today.
It feels so good to clear out the closet, attic, or garage. And if you struggle with nagging self-doubt that “nobody’s going to appreciate my old stuff,” keep in mind that it’s new to them. You might be giving somebody the chance to own something they’ve always wanted but could never afford. You’re doing a few good things when you donate: cleaning your dwelling, cleansing your mind, giving yourself the blessing of giving, and helping someone else.
8. Catch up on doctor and dental appointments.
Knowing you’re preventing cavities and periodontal disease feels good. Having sparkling teeth with no plaque also feels good. Addressing any health concerns early on and getting on a plan to reverse or prevent damage also feels really good, and is one of the best things you can do for your health.
We now know that oral care is far more important to overall health than most people once thought. Inflammation and many infections begin in the mouth. Studies show that these problems negatively affect more than a handful of common maladies to the heart and immune system.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Regular dental visits will help you keep your teeth for life and prevent all kinds of diseases.
While you’re at it, make sure you are also seeing your primary care doctor regularly. Dentists and primary care physicians can work together to diagnose problems before they become more serious. Often, dentists are the first line of defense to recognize suspicious signs and can send a note to your doctor or let you know what to mention in a checkup.
9. Give someone a genuine compliment.
Whether to a friend, stranger, or someone you do business with, kind words help boost serotonin levels, both in those who hear them and those who say them.
One way to do this is to give a positive review to the last business that you had a good experience with. Of course, every review should be honest, but we’re talking about kindness and positivity today, so for this exercise, pick a business that makes you happy.
You’re helping future customers and the business when you leave an honest review. But you’re also helping yourself! Google has recently introduced recommendations, which means that the site pays attention to the businesses and products you give five stars and tries to suggest more of the same. Your favorite coffee shop, massage parlor, or beauty salon discovery is pending.
Also, keep in mind that local businesses work hard to compete with big chains. Be kind in your reviews and always remember to talk to the business first if you have a complaint. It’s good to give them a chance to make it right. If they won’t, leave an honest but calm review (rants are usually thrown out by the discerning reader).
10. Consider a night guard.
Over 40 million Americans grind their teeth. But since this usually occurs during sleep, many sufferers are unaware of their condition. At Great Miami Dental, we can diagnose bruxism (night-time tooth-grinding) and prescribe a custom mouth guard.
According to ShareCare.com, teeth grinding can be caused not just by stress and anxiety but by sleep disorders, an abnormal bite or teeth that are missing or crooked.
If you have headaches or jaw soreness, tell your dentist. They will be able to see if your teeth have tell-tale signs of bruxism because they will show unusual looseness, a chip, or signs of wear. In some cases, bruxism can even cause cracked teeth.
We could list a hundred more ways to practice good self-care. The important thing is to introduce a few new things to your routine that make you feel more human and less like a machine. Our modern society does a lot that’s counter to sound health. As healthcare professionals with a holistic view of the body, we want to help you turn the tide.