I’m a firm believer that when you take good care of your body, it takes good care of you. I’ll admit I haven’t always treated my body kindly; but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate the benefits of being not just well-nourished, but well cared for, inside and out. When my body is healthy, I feel good. No, I feel fantastic. My attitude is positive. I feel better about myself, more confident, more attractive. I feel sexy. And, feeling this way makes me want to take better care of myself. It’s a powerful, self-sustaining cycle, not to mention an excellent place to be!
You might be tempted to think that self-care is selfish, overly indulgent, or that there is something inherently ‘wrong’ about pampering yourself. I would like to assure you this is not the case. The time you take to engage in self-care allows you the inherent physical benefits of the activity and provides you the opportunity to relax and recharge. If you’re a busy person (who isn’t?), then you need relaxation as part of your regular routine to avoid burnout.
If you’re not certain self-care is a reasonable investment, think about this: How much good can you do for others when you’re always running on fumes? Or, if you were to encounter a significant life stressor (illness, injury, or personal loss of any kind), what internal reserves – stamina, resilience, focus – would you have to cope? Many of us wouldn’t have enough.
The greatest benefits of self-care come when it is done consistently. Moderate exercise and healthy eating are prime examples of self-care; they need regular practice to be their most effective. Hopefully, you’ll find adding one or more of the following suggestions to your routine to be no harder than choosing a salad over pizza.
I’ve listed these in no particular order and noted a reasonable frequency for each.
Facial – (Once a month): Skin is the largest and fastest-growing organ of the human body, and our first line of defense against illness and infection. A regular, professional care regimen helps you keep your skin healthy and youthful. Deep cleansing, exfoliation, extraction of clogged pores, and focused treatment of specific concerns, like dryness or acne, fall within the scope of a typical session. In addition to the benefits of these treatments, you also profit from the advice of your aesthetician; they can make recommendations about the best products and routines for home.
This Huffington Post article provides more information about reasons for, and benefits of, caring for our skin.
Massage (or Myofascial Release) – (Once every 3 – 6 weeks) Massage is ‘the scientific manipulation of the soft tissues of the body for the purpose of normalizing those tissues…‘ (thefreedictionary.com). Which is just a fancy way of saying, touch (using pressure and motion) that alleviates pain. There are so many benefits to therapeutic massage, but also a few cautions, so rather than trying to list them all in this post, I’ll share some links.
From one of the most respected medical institutions in the country: Mayo Clinic – Benefits of Massage. For even more detailed information, check out the expanded definition of Massage Therapy from thefreedictionary.com.
Pedicure – (Once every 6 – 8 weeks) Most of us spend a lot of time on our feet; and for women especially, that time can be pretty brutal. Fashionable shoes that pinch toes or cause callouses; reason enough to treat your tootsies to a little extra TLC. One precaution to note (and it’s fairly common sense), revolves around equipment sanitization, so be sure to find a reputable spa or salon. Here’s an article that highlights the pros of pedicures: FootVitals – Health Benefits of Pedicures
Stretch (or basic yoga) – (Daily) This is probably the simplest, easiest way to treat your body well. Ever. You don’t need to spend a lot of time doing it. With only five minutes twice a day (e.g., on waking and before bed), you can reap many health benefits; improved immune function, relaxation, and flexibility, just to name a few. Take a look at the following articles that note the importance of stretching to overall health, and provide good examples of stretches to incorporate into your daily routine.
Sensible Sun Exposure (Or, Take Vitamin D) – (Daily) Perhaps you’ve heard of Vitamin D’s other name: the Sunshine Vitamin. This is because our bodies produce Vitamin D in response to exposure to our sun’s UV rays. With skin cancer emerging as a significant risk of sun exposure, prompting increased use of sunscreens and sunblocks, people nowadays do not derive as much natural vitamin D from outdoor activity as they have in the past. Vitamin D deficiencies have, thus, been on the rise.
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for overall health: it affects our ability to absorb calcium for healthy bones and teeth and can improve immune function and insulin regulation. It also plays a significant role in testosterone production. Men over the age of 40 can experience “manopause”; weight gain (especially in the abdomen), depression, loss of libido, and thinning of hair…all signs of decreased testosterone levels. As with all supplements and OTC medications, talk with your doctor first to see if it is right for you. In the meantime, here are a few good articles on Vitamin D supplementation.
I hope I’ve given you enough food for thought. If self-care is something you’ve not paid attention to before, I hope you can see its importance, and build a self-care routine that’s right for you. You are worth taking care of.
Stay sexy, my friends!