Any gardener can confirm that fresh seeds need water, fertilizer and daily attention to bloom. Your personal SEEDS — that is, sleep, eating, exercise, doctor's orders and self-care — are no exception. They need to be attended to each day if you want to stay well and live your healthiest life.
After all, self-care is a necessity, not a luxury. Follow these five strategies to give your SEEDS some daily TLC.
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Just like you may have a go-to morning routine or workout protocol, your sleep merits some attention. Sleep needs vary, depending on age, activity level and personal preference, according to the National Sleep Foundation. But you'll probably want to aim for around 7 to 9 hours per night.
To find an ideal sleep time, consider some day-to-day factors, the National Sleep Foundation recommends. Do you feel groggy while driving? Do you feel unproductive during the day? Do you depend on caffeine? If you're nodding your head, you may need to up your hours.
The best way to get enough sleep each night is to create a consistent sleep schedule, Milica Popovic, a trauma therapist at Compass Health Center in Chicago, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
Pick a bedtime that works even on the weekends, Popovic suggests. Waking up and going to sleep at roughly the same time each day will help your body make restful sleep a habit rather than an occasional treat.
Then, create a sleep-friendly atmosphere in your bedroom, Popovic says:
- Reserve your bed for catching zzzs and intimacy only.
- Avoid watching TV or working in bed.
- Keep the lights in your home dim an hour or two before bedtime.
- Limit your electronic use in the hours before sleep, too.
Make rest and recovery a priority by creating a daily sleep routine you stick to each night.
After a long day at the office, takeout is particularly tempting and convenient. But fueling your body with plenty of healthy food is a big part of watering your SEEDS each day.
No two people will have the same diet, but once you find something that works for you, stick with it. Find healthy foods you enjoy eating and incorporate them in various recipes, Popovic says. Or, consult a dietitian if you struggle to stick to a generally consistent plan.
"Meal prepping is also helpful, especially for busy days," Popovic says. "You can take something with you on the go and have a delicious dinner waiting at home."
If you're guilty of skipping meals during busy days, schedule specific times just for eating, Popovic suggests. Just like a meeting or appointment, schedule a 20- or 30-minute meal break in your day. If you really have no minutes to spare, plan your easiest task of the day during your meal window.
Plan your meals in advance to ensure you're getting healthy food that you enjoy eating.
As with your sleep, your ideal exercise schedule will vary depending on factors like your free time, age and current fitness level, among others. Bottom line: There's no one way to exercise.
"It might be helpful to consider this section as movement, instead of exercise," Popovic says. "With social media it might feel like there is only one particular way to do exercise right, but that couldn't be farther from the truth."
Experiment with exercise and find forms of movement that you genuinely enjoy, whether it's walking, swimming, boxing or Pilates. Fill your weekly workout routine with modalities you prefer to help you stay on track. In other words, if you don't love running, don't force yourself to run.
"Meet yourself where you are," Popovic says. "There is no shame in beginning to water this SEED simply by walking around your block or engaging in low-impact yoga or stretching."
If you need a little extra motivation or aren't sure where to start, consider recruiting an "accountability buddy," she suggests. Ask a friend to meet for a walk or attend a group class once a week and branch out as you grow more comfortable with exercise. If you're social distancing, you can still work out with friends virtually from your respective homes.
Find exercise modalities you enjoy and create a weekly routine that's realistic for your schedule and fitness level.
4. Doctor's Orders
While it's crucial that you water your SEEDS each day, it's especially important that you don't neglect this one. Follow your doctor's orders as closely as possible, whether that means taking prescribed medications, attending scheduled visits, making lifestyle changes and everything in between, Popovic says.
To get the most out of your current health care experience, Popovic suggests writing a list of questions before you visit your doctor. Getting stage fright at the doctor's office is common and having a list can help ground you. "This can be helpful if you often feel rushed by your doctor's busy schedule or experience anxiety in the setting."
Once you have your doctor's recommendations, be as mindful as possible about following them, Popovic says:
- If you start on a new medication, for example, keep a pill box, set a notification on your phone that reminds you to take it and jot down any side effects you experience.
- Consider keeping relevant phone numbers for your health care providers on your fridge or any easily accessible area.
- Familiarize yourself with local emergency services and locations, too.
Follow your doctor's orders each day as closely as possible.
5. The Wild Card 'S'
This fifth SEED can mean whatever is most valuable to you. For some it may be self-care, sobriety, spirituality or socialization, Popovic explains. Consider what your values are and how you can move toward goals that will help you lead a more balanced, healthy lifestyle.
Perhaps that involves researching Alcoholic's Anonymous meetings in your area or finding a virtual support group. Or, maybe you have a busy work schedule and need to prioritize self-care with some TV time. For others, the final SEED might be experimenting with breathing exercises or starting a meditation practice.
"Just like with grounding, personalizing this SEED can allow you to create a routine that you'll want to do, not feel like you have to do," Popovic says. "This can be helpful in making this a daily habit."
This SEED is can vary from person-to-person or day-to-day. Find something that resonates with you and can help you work toward healthy, positive goals.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.