Somehow we’ve gotten the idea that caring for ourselves is an act of selfishness. That not giving our all to our loved ones until we simply fall into bed each night, exhausted, makes us bad people.

When, in fact, you are really not doing anyone any favors by not taking care of yourself first. Yes, we just said that. Put yourself first. Gasp.

Putting yourself first does not mean neglecting your loved ones or your responsibilities. It means showing up for all the things that you love in life in a more connected, giving and peaceful manner.

You will be a better parent, spouse, friend, family member, co-worker, entrepreneur, etc. if you begin to make self-care a priority. Everyone around you will notice it and thank you for it!

You will also set an example for those around you to do the same. The ripple effect will occur and the world will be a better place.

What does self-care even look like? Many of us translate this into what might be considered indulgences like a weekly pedicure or an extravagant purchase for ourselves. Not to disappoint, but this is not what we are talking about.

Here are the Top Five foundational basics of self-care and a simple routine you can implement today:

Sleep

Americans wear the “I only need 4 hours of sleep” title like a badge of honor. It’s not and you are doing your mind and body great harm by following a routine where sleep is expendable. Sleeping does not make you lazy. It makes you smart.

Sleep is the absolute foundation of all we do. It is SO important to put getting 8 hours of sleep a night at the top of your list. And here’s why…

Even one night without enough sleep weakens your immune system, affecting your body’s ability to ward off illness. Short sleep duration predicts your risks for developing numerous forms of cancer.

Lack of sleep adversely affects your brain functions, including memory, decision-making, reasoning, and problem-solving.

Beta amyloid, a toxic protein in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease, is increased because it’s during sleep that your brain’s “sewage system” gets to work to wash away beta amyloid. Continual lack of sleep allows beta amyloid to build up, putting you at greater risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s.

You are at increased risk for heart attack and stroke.

Lack of sleep greatly impacts your ability to learn and remember what you’ve learned.

Proper amounts of sleep are necessary to lock in new information and commit it to memory.

Weight gain and increased risk for diabetes are associated with sleep loss.

They don’t call it beauty rest for nothing! Less sleep means more fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin.

Consider sleep your body and brain’s system reboot.

No reboot = poor health and performance. Mental and physical deterioration in the body begins once you’ve been awake for more than 16 hours. 24-16=8. The evidence is clear—take care to make getting 8 hours every night your top priority.

Even if you don’t do anything else on this list, this alone will make a huge difference for you!

Nutrition

This is anything you put into your body/mind.

It’s the news you consume, whether or not you participate in gossip, how much social media hype you are exposed to etc. This kind of “social nutrition” has a real effect on how you perceive yourself and the world around you. Take control of it.

Do a digital detox for a week and watch the difference unfold in your mindset and your attitude.

Nutrition is also, of course, everything you take in to fuel your precious body.

Healthy foods create a healthy outlook, happier mood, more energy, better focus and, believe it or not, good, brain-recovering sleep.

It’s also key for weight-loss—you don’t lose weight to get healthy, you get healthy to lose weight!

Better nutrition will also help you avoid that 3 pm crash and sail right through to the 5 o’clock whistle without missing a beat.

To improve your nutrition, try to eat 5+ servings of non-starchy organic vegetables daily, your recommended protein intake (plant/animal/fish), and at least 35 grams of fiber (aiming for 50+).

Hydration

Here’s the thing: a lot of what we drink is not actually hydrating.

Soft drinks? Nope. In fact, they are the opposite of hydrating (and chock full of nasty chemicals that cancer cells love to feed on.

Coffee? Again, no. One cup a day is fine, any more than that you move from the healthy benefits of coffee straight into all the drawbacks of too much coffee.

You need simple, filtered water. And plenty of it. Why?

Because the effects of dehydration include:
Memory loss
Confusion
Lack of focus
Crankiness
Headaches

You’ll have a much better day if you focus on staying hydrated.

Yoga/Meditation

You had to know this was coming. 😉

And since yoga is moving meditation it’s a great way to get both mental and physical exercise done in 1 hour at TYS.

You can sweat some stress out, focus your mind and give it a break from the monkey chatter, get a great workout in and float out on a peaceful cloud ready to love everyone around you.

Here’s a bit of inspiration to get you moving and meditating:

A yoga practice will help to:
Prevent cartilage and joint breakdown
Protect your spine
Strengthen your bones
Increase your flexibility
Improve your posture
Boost immunity
Increase blood flow
Regulate your adrenal glands
Make you happier
Increase your focus
Improve your balance

Meditation will increase your:
Immune function
Positive emotion
Social connection
Grey matter (brain)
Productivity
Creativity
Your ability to introspect and focus
Social connection and emotional intelligence

Meditation will decrease your:
Pain
Depression
Anxiety
Stress

ALL of this from one little yoga class? Youbetcha. It’s true. And believe it or not we’ve only listed about half of the benefits. There’s more. So much more! Come try it out for yourself.

Socialization

This one is a biggie. It’s almost as important as sleep.

The brain is hard-wired for social connection. Without it we wither away.

Socialization is the single most determining factor in how long you will live—more so than diet, exercise, smoking, alcohol intake, and even marital status.

How many people do you talk to in a day? This includes any and all human interaction. The more, the merrier. Join a book club, find a cool Meetup, get on Nextdoor and host a coffee hour in your neighborhood, or join a yoga studio with a strong community. But close the computer, set the phone aside, and focus on social interaction every single day.

The more you socialize, the more you connect with other human beings (outside of your technology devices), the longer you will live. It’s as simple as that.

You can do it.

This may all seem like a dream but it’s absolutely doable. It’s not just doable, it’s necessary for your quality of life and the quality of life of those around you.

Put yourself first. It’s not selfish, it’s smart.

THE YOGA STAND'S BLOG

THE YOGA STAND'S BLOG