Although the month of August signals the end of summer, it's the perfect time for self-care.
In between the busy days of carpooling and long hours at the office, caring for yourself tends to drop to the bottom of your priority list. But taking a few moments every day for self-care may help relieve stress and make you more productive.
"Self-care is important because we are creating an awareness of self," said Kellie Petrou, a local mental health counselor with a private practice in Metairie called Inspiring the Individual. "Everyone should take time to refuel and recharge so you can continue to take care of others."
As a certified care support and addiction specialist, Petrou, focuses on the emotional self. "We look inside and teach the individuals to love themselves. My motto is 'we feel and deal together so that individuals can heal.' That is part of developing a relationship with yourself."
A daily self-care practice can reduce or eliminate stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as improve energy, mood, and physical health. When focusing on building your self-care plan, consider these recommendations.
#1 Pamper yourself
Whether you indulge yourself with an hour of massage, a facial, or a "float," be sure to recharge yourself back to health. "Floating is 90 minutes of deep relaxation and healing," said Cecil Roebuck, co-owner of Float NOLA, a local state-of-the-art floatation spa and wellness center located in the Central Business District. "Individuals decompress on all levels. Floating is good for everyone from athletes to chemo patients, pregnant women, students, etc. It takes all the secrets of time away from your mind."
Roebuck explained, the Epsom salt solution is clean and sulfur-free, which helps to keep the thermal temperatures warm for a heavenly floatation session. "I add magnesium to the solution and heat it to 94 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes the solution hyper-buoyant. The magnesium, which is absorbed in your skin, helps to get rid of inflammation. "Whether you take a weekly bubble bath or enjoy a session of floatation therapy, taking care of yourself is necessary.
#2 Exercise regularly
In our ever-changing, fast-paced world, adopting an exercise routine can improve your heart health, lower your blood pressure, and protect against chronic diseases. Also, exercise is good for weight loss. It also helps brain function and memory. Recent research suggests that adults who increase their exercise to at least 15 minutes per day can cut their risk of stroke by a whopping 40%.
#3 Clear out the clutter and get organized
Do you let things pile up and collect around your house? Although you may not admit that you are messy, eliminating clutter in your life is crucial for your health.
"Cluttered surroundings mean a cluttered mind," said Kay Morrison, owner of the Occasional Wife, a local professional organizer in New Orleans. "When a person's space is cluttered, they feel weighed down and stuck. But when they get organized, it is beneficial for their mental health, enhances their social life, and can even save them money."
According to Morrison, the first step in the organization process is a commitment to purge. "The client must be ready to let things go," added Morrison. "They have to be ready to make a change and purge. Then, we can help them with their goals, getting their home organized and decluttered."
Morrison's business of organization is a "personal matter" because everything has a place and there is a place for everything. "It's important to be organized for your mental health and happiness."
#4 Seek the recommended sleep
"Sleep is an integral part of our lives," said Mohammad Cheema, MD, who's treated the adult and pediatric population since 2015 at his private practice, the Sleep Center of New Orleans. "On the average, the National Institute of Health recommends that adults get between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Any deviations from that create health concerns and cause a person not to perform at their optimal capacity."
Without the recommended hours of sleep, a person can wake up groggy, agitated, and feel less productive. "Sleep is built into our system," said Dr. Cheema, who is also President of the Louisiana Academy of Sleep Medicine. "Sleep provides the opportunity for our bodies to heal and to grow."
Dr. Cheema said, good sleep hygiene is imperative as is keeping the same nightly routine. He suggested these tips:
• Relax in a comfortable environment before going to sleep.
"Temperature is a big factor. The recommended temperature is between 69 and 70 degrees. If it is too hot or too cold, you'll wake up during the night and disturb your sleep."
• Avoid screen time.
"This is a tough one for people to put down their cell phones," he added. "Limit cell phone usage before bed as well as avoid watching television one half hour before bed. Read a book or do some relaxation or breathing techniques."
• Keep your wake up time consistent.
"Going to sleep is not in our control," Dr. Cheema emphasized. "What we do control is the time we wake up. Consistent waking times are important. We advise a sleeping pattern of going to bed at 10:00 p.m. and waking up at 6:00 a.m. or 7:00 a.m. These are the things we can do for self care."
#5 Practice Positivity
Making positive strides in your life like nature walks, daily affirmations, and social interaction with friends can help fulfill the entire spectrum of self-care needs. Schedule a playdate with friends or write down daily affirmations. These simple acts of self-care can improve your mental and physical health. Performing daily chores like making your bed in the morning can be a labor of self-care, as well as a sense of accomplishment to start your day on a positive note. As Andre Gide, French author and Nobel Prize winner, said, "Loving yourself isn't vanity—it's sanity."