Self-care can encompass so many facets of our life. Self-care can refer to physical self-care like healthy eating, exercise, and sleep. It can also refer to mental self-care, which is equally if not more important than physical self-care. Mental self-care incorporates many different aspects from being kind to yourself, to seeking the help of a counselor or caring for yourself by practicing daily writing.
Why is self-care one of the most important parts of banishing burnout? Because physical and mental health are at the crux of our ability to thrive, to do our work, and to have valuable personal relationships. For this article I have selected three of the most important, yet forgotten parts of self-care: sun, morning writing and a practice I call find your happy with sparkle moments.
GET OUT IN THE SUN
Did you know that the moment the sun hits your skin, Vitamin D is activated? As a matter of fact Vitamin D is commonly referred to as the Sunshine Vitamin.
There are several very powerful impacts of spending time outdoors and natural daylight impacts a variety of physical, mental, and emotional functions.
Vitamin D has some powerful benefits to our body:
- Strengthened immune system
- Supported cardiovascular system
- Enhanced growth of muscles, brain, etc.
There are also mental and emotional benefits:
- Enhanced mental function and memory recall
- Increased happiness through the release of serotonin, a happiness hormone
- Reduced effects of depression, and Seasonal Affective Disorder, a condition which occurs in the northern region during winter months, when many days pass without direct sunlight and much lower levels of serotonin. SAD is estimated to affect 10 million Americans every year.
The sun and its light also directly affect sleep. Melatonin is released at night and cortisol, during the day. That is why we are sleepy at night and alert during the day. You can help balance your circadian rhythm by going to bed on time and getting enough sleep. Having a balanced circadian rhythm impacts energy, mood, alertness, and other mind-body functions.
In terms of stress and anxiety, light improves the communication between various parts of the brain to help us handle emotions. Furthermore, studies have shown that the more time you spend outdoors, the more serotonin you get and the happier you feel. Also you get a boost of endorphins, another feel-good hormone.
Morning writing is something that Julia Cameron describes in her book, The Artist’s Way. She calls it Morning Pages. Cameron suggests committing to writing only three pages. Usually you don’t know what is bothering you deep down until you start writing.
Research suggests that writing with a pen and paper has a dramatic impact on the brain. [https://thriveglobal.com/stories/the-health-importance-of-pen-and-paper-journaling/]
Daily writing helps to let go of any residual negativity from the previous day and to let go of worry over the day to come. Writing down your feelings helps to clear the worry out of your consciousness and bring up issues you didn’t even know were there lying dormant.
Ridding yourself of all the little worries is a critical form of self-care. Letting go is one of the keys to banishing burnout.
Find Your Happy with Sparkle Moments
Sparkle moments are little moments throughout your day in which you can stop to feel happy about something you have accomplished or to acknowledge a positive action you have taken.
When you take a moment to celebrate the little joyful moments throughout the day, you will engage the happiness chemicals in your brain and you will feel happy. Unless you are afflicted with clinical depression, happiness is a choice.
One important way to find your happy midday is to acknowledge an accomplishment or finishing your power list. The brain really loves completions and rewards you with dopamine, a happiness chemical. Stop and acknowledge these moments and pat yourself on the back.
Any little thing that makes you feel better, like laughing or talking to a good friend, can be a sparkle moment. It only takes a moment to infuse your day with sparkle moments.
Self-care is an important part of banishing burnout. Getting out in the sun impacts a number of physiological functions including mental clarity and mood. Morning writing helps you let go of the stress from the day before and calm yourself for the day to come. And Finding Your Happy with Sparkle Moments helps you focus on the happy parts of your life like spending time with good friends and rewarding yourself for completions. The next time you are feeling frustrated with the Covid situation or angry with a work situation, remember these simple self-care strategies.