Life is full of twists, turns, ups, downs-like a roller coaster. Except unlike a roller coaster, you can’t ride multiple times: it’s a one-time experience. So it’s in your best interest to make sure that experience is a good one.

How do we roll with each up and down without letting it all make us start to feel queasy? We are more resilient to the ups and downs of life when we are feeling our best physically and emotionally, which is why investing in self-care is a necessity for your health and stress management.

What is self-care?

Self-care is the marriage of body, mind, soul and appreciating how each works individually and as part of the whole. When one of the three is suffering or neglected, the others feel it, too. When they are all in harmony, it creates an energy that is magnetic. A garden will be overtaken by weeds if left unattended. A home with fall into disarray if left uncleaned. It takes work to maintain harmony.

What does that harmony look like in your life?

We live in a society that idolizes busyness. We are so consumed with keeping ourselves busy we run ourselves ragged—as if that raggedness is some sort of trophy or badge of honor. Being sleep deprived, malnourished, and chronically stressed has long-term effects. This isn’t harmony.

Like anything left untreated, stress can become a serious health issue if ignored. Stress can cause insomnia, which exhausts your central nervous system—your body’s information highway—and can disrupt how your brain and body work. Sleep deprivation can change your cognitive abilities, moods, and behavior. Over time, cortisol levels rise (a stress hormone) and this causes your body to be totally out of sync which basically forces your immune system, digestive system, and the cardiovascular and endocrine systems to not work properly. Eventually, this can lead to serious health issues like high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

To give you an idea of what that means financially, the American Diabetes Association states that people diagnosed with diabetes have an average medical expenditure of $16,752 per year.

High blood pressure is one of the key risk factors for heart disease and stroke, both of which are in the top five leading causes of death in the United States.

Gum disease is a preventable problem that, left untreated, can lead to tooth loss, heart disease and increased risk of cancer. New research shows that the bacteria that causes gum disease contributes to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

We’ve known for a while that your oral health is tied to and reflective of your total body health. This oral-systemic link is now widely discussed in the dental world. In fact, we are so focused on this that it is a common topic of continuing education courses.

Creating Harmony

If we want to stay on the ride of life longer, we need to take care of the vessel that is allowing us to ride in the first place. Being in good health allows you to enjoy life more. More quiet cups of coffee on the front porch, more relaxing vacations, more time with the kids or grandkids. It’s being able to chase your kids around and ride bikes for hours or go camping. Taking care of yourself allows you to do more and get more out of the ride of life, and you are worth investing in!

We often get stuck in the busyness trap. We’re too busy to take that yoga class twice a week. We’re too busy to cook healthier. We’re too busy to find an active hobby to move our bodies. Or maybe we view that gym membership or personal trainer as an expense we just can’t take on, and those regular doctor check-ups just don’t fit the budget or timeline we have set for ourselves. But if you can transform the way you approach and view these things, you can find a way to make them happen. It may not look the way you thought it would, you may need to be creative, but you can do it.

Prioritizing Self-Care

Instead of thinking of all of the obstacles, keep your focus on the goal and then figure out ways to move the obstacles around so they become launching pads. It’s so much easier and less expensive, if that’s your hold up, to focus on preventive care than sick care. So if time and money are keeping you from investing in yourself, think again. Invest upfront and reap the rewards for the rest of your life.

If you keep making withdrawals and no deposits, you’ll be left with an angry collections agency (hint: it’s your body!). The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that preventive care can help you live longer and healthier lives, prevent disease or keep disease from progressing, and save money. In fact, increasing the use of preventive services as a society can mean greater workplace productivity because of reduced sick days.

If you struggle to stay motivated with healthy eating, exercise and mindfulness habits change how you look at it. Make small, daily changes until a new habit is formed. It can be like brushing your teeth. You do it twice a day without even thinking about it because that’s just what you do to keep your teeth healthy. Apply this to everything else—your body, your mind, your emotions. Instead of viewing self-care as a chore—something you have to do that you hate—switch your thinking to take a long-term approach.

Making a Commitment

Once you’ve committed to living a healthy lifestyle, start to schedule your days around the non-negotiables. For example, if you want to exercise for 45 minutes, four times a week, make time and get it done. If you want to try new healthy recipes, find ones that are easy to make and prepare a few days of meals at a time so you can save both time and money. You could use that extra time to work out or go to yoga, get a massage, read a book or even visit the dentist (we love seeing you!).

The National Sleep Foundation recommends eight hours of sleep a night, and we know what lack of sleep can do (see above, or just ask any new parent) to your mind and body. If you need more sleep, make sure you’re making space to get close to a solid eight hours so your body and mind can function at its best. Relaxing nighttime routines and exercise can promote restful sleep.

Consider the time and money that sick care requires. Think about the toll being sick often takes on you emotionally, mentally, and physically as well. What if instead of putting out fires, you invest your time and money upfront for self-care activities which will contribute to your overall harmony of mind, body, and spirit. Commit to yourself. Cultivate harmony. You’ll be better for it in the long run on all fronts.

You know that tooth you avoid chewing food with? It’s time to invest in yourself and get it looked at. You know how you try your best to smile with your mouth closed because you don’t like your teeth? It’s time to invest in yourself and have it fixed.

Make an appointment with Dr. Tomasik or Dr. Clor now.

 

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