When you think about self-care, it’s likely that a candlelit bubble bath comes to mind. Maybe a face mask, or a mani/pedi. These are the images we typically see in the media and advertising, but self-care is actually about so much more.
Self-care isn’t just for beauty and relaxation, it’s about making healthy choices in our daily lives. It’s about setting ourselves up for success.
As part of our #TakeCare campaign, we challenge you to change how you think about self-care. Stay hydrated, get enough sleep, and eat a healthy diet not because it will change how you look, but because it is good for your body. Here’s proof:
Hydration affects mood and cognition.
Sure, drinking enough water does great things for your skin and weight, but it also impacts your stress level and ability to think clearly. Studies show that even mild dehydration increases tension and anxiety. At the same time, dehydration negatively affects memory, attention, and motor skills. This happens because even small amounts of dehydration (just half a liter!) cause the adrenal glands to produce more cortisol, the stress hormone. It’s actually a vicious cycle. When the body is under stress, we become dehydrated quicker as we lose fluids from a faster heart rate and heavy breathing. Dehydration causes stress, and stress causes dehydration. Skip the stress by staying hydrated.
Sleep deprivation hinders creativity and problem solving.
Most people know that sleep is important, it directly influences our ability to be alert and attentive, but that doesn’t make it any easier to prioritize. In our busy and over-extended lives, a good night’s sleep often feels like a fantasy. Besides, who needs sleep when we have caffeine? Unfortunately, caffeine can’t do it all. Research suggests that while caffeine can improve our ability to perform routine and menial tasks while sleep deprived, creativity and divergent thinking still suffer. For some things there are no shortcuts, you just need sleep.
Food affects the brain on a cellular level.
Nourishing your brain is the ultimate self-care. Eating foods that contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants protects the brain from something called “oxidative stress,” which occurs when the body is polluted with too much waste (otherwise known as free radicals). If the body doesn’t have the fuel it needs to detoxify, oxidative stress can damage cells in the brain. Simply put, healthy foods keep your brain healthy.
Challenging ourselves to reframe how we think about self-care can radically change the way we care for our bodies. It’s about more than just appearances, it’s about being kind to ourselves by making the effort to drink enough water, get enough sleep, and eat well. The goal is a healthy body and mind, looking good is just a bonus.