Most health advice focuses on what you should not do. Avoid smoking, eat less fat, don’t eat sugar. There aren’t as many health tips about what to do. But self-care actually covers a wide range of activities, from obvious things like eating well and sleeping well to less-obvious ones like taking a walk or enjoying a hobby.
The best self-care habits are those that improve your immune system, protect you from disease, and keep you healthy. These habits include sleep, physical activity, good nutrition, relaxation, stress management, and social support. Regular sleep, for example, boosts your immune system and promotes fat loss. It also helps you control your weight. Sleep deprivation, erratic sleep schedules, and oversleeping all contribute to weight gain, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
Sleep deprivation also impairs memory and makes you more irritable. Lack of sleep has also been linked to chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease. Lack of sleep also makes you more susceptible to infection, especially flu and the common cold.
Physical activity is another form of self-care that promotes health. Regular physical activity enhances blood flow, strengthens your heart, reduces your risk of stroke, and increases your endurance.
Good nutrition also promotes good health. Good nutrition helps you maintain a healthy weight, supports your immune system, and boosts your energy. It also helps you control your appetite, which can help prevent overeating.
Relaxation helps you restore energy. It restores your body’s equilibrium, relieves muscle tension, and relieves stress. Relaxation also prevents illness. Stress management involves learning to control and relieve stress. Stress management includes avoiding situations or activities that increase stress, and learning new ways to cope with stress. Social support enhances your self-esteem and makes you feel less isolated. It can also promote healthy friendships, positive interactions between parents and children, and cooperation among coworkers.