This is a sponsored post on behalf of Prevention.com. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make it possible for Root + Revel to provide free content and healthy living inspiration.
Welp, it’s February… how are your New Year’s resolution looking? If you’re like most people, they’re probably nothing more than a mere memory. Or, if you’re lucky, maybe something you did in January, but promptly gave up as soon as the second month of the year hit.
Don’t worry—I get it. Most of us adopt an all-or-nothing attitude, making extreme resolutions to totally change our lives in ways that aren’t realistic or sustainable.
The good news? There’s a better way! Research shows that focusing on one small change at a time is the best way to create healthy habits that stick long past 1/31. I’ve absolutely found the same to be true in my life.
Rather than resolving to completely overhaul my diet or run a marathon, I’ve found that taking little steps can really add up, that small changes (when done daily) equal BIG results. And results that are real and lasting.
That’s why I couldn’t be more excited to join Prevention in their #SpreadTheHealth Healthy Habits Challenge—the mag is asking readers to commit to short, simple, one-week challenges focused on simple health tweaks in key areas: Nourish, Connect, Move, Grow, Relax.
While you can absolutely chose a new healthy habit in whatever category feels best to you, I personally chose the relax category, with an emphasis on self care.
What is Self Care?
Put simply, self care is like it sounds—it’s taking care of yourself by identifying your needs and taking steps to meet them. At its core, self care is about nurturing yourself, being kind to yourself, treating yourself.
Why Does Self Care Matter?
Now I know that might sound a little woo woo, but self care is extremely important, and not just for yourself. In fact, though there’s a common misconception that self care is inherently selfish, the truth is self care influences all those around you (just think about all of the people in your life who are affected by your stress!).
It’s the reason why when you fly on an airplane, the flight attendant instructs you to put your oxygen mask on first, before helping others. Self care is embracing the idiom that you can’t pour from an empty cup.
So practice self care without guilt, shame or remorse. Practice self care proudly!
Not only is self care super important for managing your mental, emotional and spiritual state, but it’s also incredibly important for hormone balance. This is a huge one for me.
I’ve spent the past two years working tirelessly to not only reverse my PCOS and Leaky Gut (IBS) naturally, but also in my career, maintaining my home and in my relationships. It’s exhausting and at the end of December 2016, I near had a mental breakdown.
I couldn’t do it anymore, I couldn’t handle all of the pressure I was putting on myself, all of the harsh criticism that came from the voice in my head telling me I wasn’t good enough, all of the guilt and shame I felt from taking a break when things got to be too much.
I knew this wasn’t good for me, I knew that kind of stress and perfectionism would lead to way worse problems than the guilt I felt over watching an episode of Gilmore Girls over my lunch break. And more than that, I knew that stress was the final piece in fully balancing my hormones.
My adrenals were exhausted, burnt out, and it was keeping my hormones in this out-of-whack state that left me feeling wired-but-tired, physically worn out and with mood swings that would make Charlie Sheen look stable.
Yeah, it was that bad. And I knew better. Chronic stress can lead to a slew of health issues, from fatigue and digestion troubles to irregular periods and infertility, inflammatory auto-immune conditions, Type 2 diabetes and even cancer.
So, all this to say, thanks to Prevention’s #SpreadTheHealth Healthy Habits Challenge, I decided to take on a daily self care challenge to see if I couldn’t manage my anxiety, reduce my stress and balance my hormones without having to pop some expensive anti-depressant that comes with a slew of scary side effects (not to mention the fact that medication only masks your symptoms, rather than healing the root cause).
And guess what? I FEEL AMAZING! I honestly can’t even believe how one simple habit could result in such an enormous shift.
I feel happier, calmer, more secure. I’m learning to let go of the guilt and embrace self care as a valuable and necessary part of modern life. My skin is clearer, my mind is clearer, and at the end of the day, instead of feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and behind, I’m starting to feel satisfied, fulfilled and grateful.
How to Practice Self Care
At this point you might be wondering where to start when it comes to self care. I know that, at first, I wasn’t sure how to do self care either. But after doing some research and testing out a few different self care activities, I found a handful that worked best for me.
So here’s how I did it.
To continue reading this story and learning about how you can practice self care, click here. You'll find a how-to guide, plus a list of my favorite self care activities and advice on when to practice self care.
Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser